Debt Collection Firm Help

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Debt Collection Firm Help

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:55 pm

Looking into working for a debt collection firm in my area. They are creditor's rights but focus on debt collection. I have been licensed for about a few months now and have not found a lot of good work. Doing document review mostly and contractual work. Is this usually entry-level work (the debt collection practice) that one starts off with? The only experience I have is doing criminal law internships at the DA's office while in 2L and 3L on and off.

Does this practice of debt collection usually hire newly licensed attorneys, and is this a good practice to be in? Pretty much I don't know much about the work, but it does seem interesting. Seems like a large law firm, enforcing debt collection from large chains like banks and etc. I will enforce judgments I guess on debtors for creditors who have retained the firm... Would you advice against this kind of work as well? How easy will it be for me to learn the work, given I am entry-level with not much experience on this. The firm seems to have a large office in the Northeast somewhere with little offices regionally. I will work out of the regional office in my area. I do not want to go into the interview blind sighted and not knowing what to say.

Any general consensus on this type of work and insights, ideas, would be helpful, for I am a newbie. Will I gain any types of litigation/transferable skills? What are the exit opportunities, etc,? Also, any idea as to what kind of work I will be doing, FDCPA?

Thanks

albanach

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Re: Debt Collection Firm Help

Postby albanach » Sat Feb 02, 2019 2:13 pm

You're going to spend your days squeezing money out of people who have nothing, taking away the cars that they use to get to work or forcing folk from their homes. You need to decide if that's the sort of work that you could find satisfying.

If the judgments after already in place, enforcing them isn't going to involve any significant or complex litigation.

Exit opportunities aren't likely to be great. I imagine trying to get into a position where you're doing collections against corporations in business to business disputes would be a step up.

Honestly, I think you'd be better looking for insurance defense work - at least that works give substantive litigation experience.

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Re: Debt Collection Firm Help

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Feb 02, 2019 7:29 pm

OP here,


thank you. If anyone has any experience in this or would like to share any opinions on this, please feel free. I'm not sure yet if I will be enforcing just judgments although that will be part of the work. I guess it will be easy to get defaults and then enforcing them, and if there is any litigation involved I suppose, it will be trying to prove up the debt, which does not seem very complex , huh?


Thanks again

wons

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Re: Debt Collection Firm Help

Postby wons » Sat Feb 02, 2019 8:05 pm

If insurance defense is the armpit of the profession, debt collection is its bunghole.
Last edited by QContinuum on Sun Feb 03, 2019 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Outed for anon abuse.

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Re: Debt Collection Firm Help

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:59 am

care to share why you would call it the bunghole?

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Re: Debt Collection Firm Help

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:36 pm

I started out from law school at a similar firm. I don't do it anymore, but it had its pros and cons. I wouldn't take a lot of people's criticism too personal. It is absolutely laughable if a BigLaw attorney claims some moral high ground when they probably helped draft the contract you are enforcing for the same client.

It depends whether you are doing retail vs. commercial collections. Commercial claims were much better and usually more litigated. Retail claims were like credit card debts where the debtor is not going to show so anyone with a license can take a default. You will also learn the FDCPA. Even if you are doing commercial claims (where it is not applicable), you will probably be trained in it. If you get experience FDCPA defense, an exit option may be in financial services defense or with the state AG, although those will still be difficult to get. The other exit option is to start your own shop. You can get cases referred from either current clients or from several other organizations on a contingency basis.

Pros:
-Generally no billable hours as they are contingency fee cases
-Learning curve is quite easy
-If you are trained properly, partners may let you run your own cases, litigate and try them if necessary, particularly the smaller claims (especially with pro se debtors, which is common). I got to argue a few summary judgment motions - even with attorneys as opposing counsel - and it was kind of fun and there was not a whole lot of pressure.
-Mostly will work 9-5
-Will get experience & general knowledge in bankruptcy, FDCPA and general litigation process
-Eventually may be able to get a cut of the contingency fee.

Cons:
-Collecting. If the place is a mill and solely dependent upon collecting a bunch of money on a 15-20% fee, they won't care if you are a crap attorney if you can collect. There will be a lot of pressure to call and squeeze money out of debtors rather than running/litigating cases. Hopefully it is a firm that has collectors and you can focus on the paper pushing, unless you are good at collecting then you should try to later get a cut of the fee.
-High volume.
-Dealing with lots of pro se debtors. You will get cussed out, you might get sued, and you will probably feel bad for some of them. Some of them are scumbags that has never paid a creditor and some of them are honest folks that were duped or in a rough spot.
-Hot heads. There can be lots of hot heads in this practice from my experience, likely due to the stress of working solely on a contingency.
-Crap cases. Some of the debts are complete garbage bought by debt buyers (likely represented by BigLaw attorneys) who then send it to a firm like yours to go to town and collect what you can. The interest, attorney fees, and total debt have since sky-rocketed and most normal people can never pay it off.
-It can pigeon-hole you. You don't get a whole lot of litigation experience, especially if you are doing a lot of post-judgment collection stuff. That is a different breed not transferable to other forms of law, but it collects money, and collecting money is what the client is interested in--not your skills in discovery or pleadings.

We also had a lot of insurance subrogation cases, which is not debt collection per se. I enjoyed that practice because the facts are different in each case. If you do a good job for them you may eventually be able to move to in-house subrogation potentially. Pre-judgment, it is going to give you lots of good litigation experience transferable to either insurance subrogation, personal injury or insurance defense.

I would take it if it is the only job you can find, but try to find out beforehand about the types of claims, whether you have a certain expectation of amount of $ to collect, and the turnover. If there is a high turnover, I would maybe take it but look elsewhere immediately.

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Re: Debt Collection Firm Help

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:53 pm

They hire newly licensed attorneys in this field. As I mentioned above, it has a pretty easy learning curve. My recommendation would be first to find out if they are hiring you more to manage cases or collect money. If it is the former, you want to focus on your organization since it will be high volume. If it is the latter, you don't want to get bogged down in law minutiae but instead focus more on a sales aspect/dealing with people to make money.

Since it is a small satellite office, my guess is you will be responsible for managing a bunch of cases and the collecting is farmed out to collectors in the main office. In that case, you need to stress the importance of deadlines, efficiency, organization, etc. Think of some examples of doing this previously, either in law school, internships, or other work/life experience. You may be expected to manage 300+ cases in your city and surrounding towns, make court appearances across the surrounding 5-10 counties, etc. The client wants it all organized and most importantly, they want their judgment and not to be sued for an FDCPA violation.

The bad news is - and just speculating here, I could be wrong - there may not be a whole lot of room for advancement and your ceiling is probably kinda low in that environment.

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Re: Debt Collection Firm Help

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:54 pm

Is there a high turnover rate for these firms? It seems like nationwide firm, with regional offices. They hire attorneys on a salary. Also, I take it most of these firms are run like a mill, as in a sweatshop?

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Re: Debt Collection Firm Help

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:57 pm

I can't speak to the turnover rate. They run like a mill more based on volume of cases than a BigLaw sweatshop of churning out hours. You will handle hundreds, if not thousands, of files in a very short period of time.



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