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1. 800. 973.1177

PROFILE

Profile: Mary “Becky” Rolland, paralegal at Heller, Draper, Hayden, Patrick & Horn, LLC [Regan Morris] Mary “Becky” Rolland is one of the top bankruptcy paralegal experts in the country. LawCrossing speaks with Ms. Rolland about her strong opinions on new bankruptcy laws, which she believes will hurt small businesses but not corporate giants.

Mary “Becky” Rolland, who was recently

Massachusetts Paralegal Association. She

counseling. And most people will no longer

named one of the top paralegals in the nation

stayed with the Chapter 13 office for seven

qualify for Chapter 7 relief under the

by paralegal author Carole Bruno, is worried

years.

new laws, so Chapter 13s (Ms. Rolland’s specialty) will become more prevalent.

and excited about a tough new bankruptcy law which takes effect on Oct. 17.

In 1997, Ms. Rolland started her own business — Freelance Paralegal Services

“I’ve always been on the debtor’s side of the

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention &

— preparing Chapter 7 and 13 petitions,

game,” she said. “I’ve always worked for

Consumer Protection Act, signed by

motions and plans for various attorneys. She

debtor’s attorneys. So the creditor’s attorney

President George W. Bush in April, will make

loved running her own business and working

is going to try and make you feel sorry for

it more difficult for people to start fresh,

in Boston, but personal reasons brought her

the credit card companies. But I know as a

as bankruptcies have long intended. Most

back to Louisiana in 2002, where she initially

bankruptcy paralegal that my debtors, the

experts agree the law will be hardest on low-

worked for her brother, an environment

moment they got out of bankruptcy, were

income debtors and Ms. Rolland is gearing

attorney.

given credit cards again. So they don’t get

up for the changes.

my sympathy. Because if they’re whining “Bankruptcy law is unique because we have

because they didn’t get paid, then why are

In Chapter 7 bankruptcies, people are

to do all of our filing electronically. You can’t

they sending out credit cards?”

generally allowed to cancel some debt

just go into court any more, you have to know

and start fresh. Chapter 13 bankruptcies

electronic filing,” she said. “So I took my

Ms. Rolland said many politicians are

work out a payment plan for individuals

brother to the electronic filing class to try

painting the new bankruptcy law as a moral

and Chapter 11 bankruptcies are a more

and get him involved. And he said well I don’t

issue, arguing that people who file for

extensive and costly reorganization,

know if you can teach an old dog new tricks.”

bankruptcy are bad people seeking a free

generally used by businesses. Ms. Rolland,

ride.

a paralegal with at Heller, Draper, Hayden,

And Ms. Rolland had a passion for

Patrick & Horn, LLC in New Orleans focuses

bankruptcy law so she joined Heller Draper

“In my 15 years of being a paralegal I

on Chapter 11 bankruptcies at her office. But

in 2003, where she could complete her

have seen one percent of fraud,” she said.

she is an expert in Chapter 13 and Chapter 7s

expertise in the area by mastering Chapter

“It’s generally people that just made bad

from her past jobs in law firms and Trustee’s

11 bankruptcies. Now Ms. Rolland is

decisions. In Massachusetts, they had the

offices in Massachusetts.

considering opening her freelance business

real estate boom and then bust. So when

again, perhaps with employees to run it while

real estate was booming a lot of these

In 1990, Ms. Rolland was working in Boston

she remains working for the firm. Since her

families bought a second home so they could

for her family’s safe business when a

business would focus on Chapter 7s and 13s

rent it out and make extra income. So it was

customer from the Chapter 13 Trustee’s

and Heller Draper only does Chapter 11s,

the American dream. And what happened?

office came in to get a set of keys cut. He

they are supportive of her plans.

One of my bosses actually said the American dream became the American nightmare.”

asked Ms. Rolland if she ever considered becoming a paralegal and offered her a job.

She fears the new bankruptcy laws will make it too expensive for mom and pop

In the early 1990s, the real estate boom

She received a paralegal certificate from the

businesses to start again if they get into

busted and people were stuck with two

National Academy of Paralegal Studies in

trouble and she wants to help. Under the

mortgages and no renters. Many filed for

1992 and became an active member of the

new laws, many debtors will have to seek

bankruptcy.

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1.800. 973. 1177

PROFILE

Under the new law, attorneys could be held

“Even though I love them (Heller Draper)

liable if their client lies to them in a Chapter

and they love me, they know that I’m on the

13 bankruptcy, so many attorneys may shy

threshold of the world changing and the thing

away from representing people. And the

that I know the best is what bankruptcy law

terms of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can take

is going to be primarily,” she said. “Anybody

up to five years, so Ms. Rolland believes

who’s ever been self employed, you know

bankruptcies will no longer come under a

it’s hard to go back 9 to 5. So I’m looking at

flat fee and could soar to outrageous prices

a three to five year goal, I’m not looking at

— not exactly what a person in debt needs.

tomorrow.”

“The problem with Chapter 13s is that they call it a bad marriage,” she said. “Usually bankruptcies were a flat fee and now I don’t know what. They’re going to be outrageous. Because it’s a five year marriage between attorney and debtor.” If the bankrupt client loses their job, becomes ill or gets fired, their legal fees will continue to mount as their attorney has to show up in court explaining why they can’t make the payments on time. Ms. Rolland is an expert in claims reviews, scouring through documents from the debtor and creditor, making sure things add up and suggesting ways to save a case if things are falling apart and the numbers don’t add up. Ms. Rolland said Heller Draper has been the most supportive firm imaginable. They hired her even when she told them she needed to make caring for her sick mother a priority. The firm was flexible while Ms. Rolland went through a terrible year with her mom, who passed away in 2003. Although Ms. Rolland said she could not imagine working for a better firm, she misses working in Chapter 13s, which will become more common under the new law. “I know 13s like the back of my hand and I have talked to them about starting up my own business again,” she said. “But I have not done it yet. I’ve only set up a Website. www.writer-paralegal.com .” Her Website, for now, features many of the articles she has written on bankruptcy law. PAGE 


Profile: Mary ''Becky'' Rolland, paralegal at Heller, Draper, Hayden, Patrick & Horn, LLC