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Best Case Bankruptcy
Delving into the highly complex and strictly regulated field of bankruptcy law can be a formidable, exhausting and even frustrating experience, unless of course it happens to be your area of expertise. As primarily a civil litigation paralegal in personal injury practices, my exposure to bankruptcy law over the years has been minimal. That is, until recently when a case I was working on went to bankruptcy court and I was thrust full-bore into the mysterious realm of bankruptcy law.
Although I am pretty well-versed in federal court practices, the rules for bankruptcy law are something altogether different — exacting, complicated and foreign to me. For example, whereas the local bankruptcy court in Lafayette, La., accepts electronic filings only, the federal district court has yet to transition exclusively to electronic filing. What’s more, the bankruptcy laws, rules and procedural requirements are always changing, which makes it challenging for even a bankruptcy expert to stay current. A recent example is the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which imposed new eligibility requirements and has been all the buzz the past few years (see “Final Notice: Bankruptcy Under the New Law,” January/February 2007 LAT). Suffice it to say, complying with bankruptcy law is no small feat, making organization, automation and expedition of all documents not just lofty goals, but real necessities.
For legal professionals today, several worthy software programs offer solutions for handling the complex practice of bankruptcy law, such as Best Case Bankruptcy. Although I am not an expert in bankruptcy filings, procedure or software, my experience has been that components of solid, well-designed software are universal. Unless a software program is easy to use and navigate, it’s virtually useless.
Best Case simplifies the preparation and filing of debtor forms under Chapters 7, 11, 12 and 13. Upon first impression, Best Case scores big as a user-friendly and intuitive program. Without so much as reading a help file, I was able to work my way through the sample file and perform many tasks. After more in-depth study of the software, I was quickly and easily able to create a dummy bankruptcy filing with little reference to help materials. Along the way, I noted many time-saving and intuitive options: a checkbox allows you to exclude a party from the mailing matrix, and color-coded client files clearly distinguish three sets of official federal forms, such as 2006 cases, 2005 cases and pre-BAPCPA cases.
The interface of Best Case is clean and simple. All contextual functions are easily located and within reach. The remarkable attention to detail in the program’s design, which is among the best I have seen, was pleasantly surprising and likely an advantage of the software’s maturity. With a simple right mouse click on any form in the “Forms and Schedules” view, you can open and edit, add or view attachments, preview and print, or mark a form or document to print. Many of the forms actually are merge processes performed via the Best Case Attachment Editor (in RTF format), but this feature can be customized to use Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect instead. Because Best Case is a stand-alone program, word processing software is not required to print any of the official forms and schedules.
Features that not only are useful and expected, such as the ability to create a matrix on disk for submission to the court or save individual client files to a disk, are completed literally within seconds. Also impressive and (to me) vital is that Best Case uses typeset-quality replicas of the court’s official forms, which are attractive, familiar and clean.
OneTouch Electronic Filing and BestScan are stellar features that actually make me envious of those who practice bankruptcy law. My favorite feature is OneTouch Electronic Filing, which integrates with the court’s CM/ECF system, simplifying and making the e-filing process uniform — and perhaps even more accurate.
With BestScan and a TWAIN scanner, it’s simple to scan and generate PDFs in the proper format, size and resolution required by the court. This not only saves the added expense of purchasing a program such as Adobe Acrobat to create PDFs, but streamlines the entire e-filing process.
Of course, calculations are essential to any bankruptcy software, and again Best Case provides state-of-the-art solutions with its new means test and current monthly income calculators, last updated on Feb. 1, 2007, with the next update expected in early April. Best Case Bankruptcy also has partnered with CIN Legal Data Services and Suite Solutions online credit reporting corporation to allow integrated ordering of credit reporting and due diligence products and services, with the purchase of a separate subscription. The new credit report import feature optimizes integration with these services by instantly transferring listed liabilities to creditor schedules along with creditor contact and claim information. Canvassing the Best Case Web site yields a wealth of helpful information and provides assurances that the software is synchronized with current law while continually being updated and improved.
Whether your needs are something as little as generating the occasional bankruptcy filing and documents or something bigger like managing all aspects of a bankruptcy practice, I have no hesitation in recommending Best Case. As for me, I will try to stay out of bankruptcy court, but when necessary, I know I am ready with the best possible solution to prevent a worst-case scenario.
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