Diane L. Drain, bankruptcy attorney, retired law professor, mentor and community spokesperson.

This should say it all – one day I received a call from my client’s adult daughter.  She wanted me to know that she feared her mother was close to suicide before she decided to file bankruptcy.  Now that the bankruptcy is filed her mother is happy and there to welcome her first grandchild.  WOW – what more can I say!!

We contribute to our client’s peace of mind when we can tell an aggressive collector they can never contact our client or try to collect the debt.  It is wonderful to hear from that same client who was able to start a new life, buy a better vehicle and find a new home.  I love the holiday pictures in their new home!!

This really is why I went to law school.

Many times people ask why I decided to concentrate on bankruptcy –

bankruptcyIt’s simple – it is the one area of law that allows me to help others in their time of need.  As a law professor I told my students that bankruptcy fascinates me because at times it seems to be magic.

When a bankruptcy is filed a “magical” umbrella (the automatic stay) protects the debtor, their family and their property.

This umbrella is so powerful that it stops almost everyone in their tracks – even the IRS.  Phone calls, lawsuits, demands for payment must stop. Of course, this does not mean the individual filing bankruptcy can keep their house or car without paying the secured creditor.  That would not make common sense.

Normally, the automatic stay is invoked immediately upon the filing of the bankruptcy petition. There are very few exceptions; one is repeated bankruptcy filings.

Warning: bankruptcy is complicated and must be treated with respect.

bad attorneyMany people file their own bankruptcy or hire inexperienced or unscrupulous attorneys.  This is the beginning of a nightmare that can last for years.  They lose their tax refunds, vehicles, inheritance and other property that was important to them.   Normally this can be avoided if a bankruptcy is planned properly and time allows.

The automatic stay also protects creditors from more aggressive creditors.

Many times assets are worth far more than the aggressive creditor is owed.  If that creditor seizes the valuable asset it results in losses to other creditors who want to work with the debtor.


awardChief Judge Daniel Collins, Arizona Bankruptcy Court, presented Diane with a Lifetime Achievement Pro Bono Award

Chief Judge Daniel Collins, of the Arizona Bankruptcy Court, presented Diane with a Lifetime Achievement Pro Bono Award, sponsored by the Arizona Bankruptcy Section, “(f)or a career of overwhelming and extraordinary pro bono services in establishing the Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center and leadership in the bankruptcy pro bono programs.”

To put icing on this cake, the judges in the Arizona Bankruptcy Court are dedicated to a fair and equitable result for the parties.

They are not shy to shame and financially punish a large national lender for abusing an individual borrower. Nor, are the judges willing to award attorney fees to over-reaching attorneys and their clients (whether debtors or creditors). These judges demand practical, efficient and appropriate lawyering on all matters. Our Arizona bankruptcy judges are invested in their cases and are dedicated to helping everyone, especially the debtors.


There may be a sigma because it reflects a perceived failure: a failure to protect the family; a failure to build a successful business or a failure to follow the steps of a parent who was not faced with similar challenges. Many assume that the debtor did not properly plan financially and/or they abused the use of credit cards. That, as a result of their poor judgment, they are choosing to file for bankruptcy protection. THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

The reality for most is that they were always able to pay their bills but life suddenly changed.

Their employer closed its doors, their marriage fell apart, their father needed money to pay for his cancer treatment or the market collapsed. These are the real situations that many of my clients have faced.

I say to these naysayers that they need to walk a few miles in my clients’ shoes.

I tell them to say their prayers, because there is no guarantee that tomorrow they will not be in the same position as the person they were wrinkling their nose at today.

This includes family, employers and creditors.

This may not sound like a big deal to some of you with deep-rooted negative feelings about bankruptcy, but it illustrates an important point. When a bankruptcy is filed lives can change dramatically for both creditors and debtors.  Families, friends and employers receive the direct benefit of the debtor’s fresh start – a happier person.

The basic principal behind bankruptcy is a fresh start for debtors (and their families).


Starting a new life of financial freedom.

The basic principal behind bankruptcy is to permit debtors an opportunity for a fresh start and the creditors are to receive equal distribution of available assets. What a magical theory! Before filing bankruptcy someone’s life is barely held together – they are terrified of answering their own phone; they are embarrassed at work by calls from collection companies and they may be in fear of losing their home or vehicles.

After a bankruptcy is filed many of my clients tell me that they can breath easier and sleep through the night. Their wage garnishment stop so they can pay the rent and buy food.  They go to work with their heads held high; they can answer their phones and open their mail without feeling sick.

– Diane L. Drain

Bankruptcy laws are very powerful and they are all encompassing.  Most other laws must bow to the bankruptcy laws.

A divorce, a lawsuit and a foreclosure of property are all put on hold until, and only if, the bankruptcy is no longer in force, or the Bankruptcy Court gives those creditors permission to continue with their actions.

To be a good bankruptcy attorney they must be  well versed in many areas of law: family law, estate, tax, corporate, community property, etc.

Unlike most areas of law, bankruptcy dictates that the lawyer be well versed in many areas of law, be a very good negotiator and sensitive to the differing needs of all those involved. It is the only area of law that does not normally pit one party against the other. Unlike most courts there is rarely a battle of copy machines, nor does the number of associates assigned to the case directly affect the outcome. In fact, rather than the outcome turning on the lawyer’s ability to write long, complicated legal briefs, it is measured by their knowledge of the law, understanding of the policies and procedures and their ability to find creative solutions.

A good bankruptcy lawyer must be tuned into the actual cost of continuing litigation versus the benefit to the parties (both creditor and debtor). Therefore, the more the bankruptcy lawyer knows about the practical issues facing the parties, the more practical the conclusion for all and the lower the financial losses (attorney fees).

– Diane L. Drain

The banking industry would argue that borrowers chose to accept and use credit cards or take out loans.

Borrowers also sometimes chose to obtain money from a loan shark yet the lender is prohibited by law from breaking any bones for late or non-payment. There also is free choice involved when an innocent person discloses personal information to an unscrupulous telemarketer, yet the consumer fraud division of the state attorney general’s office will still protect the individual. Banks, due in large part to their greed, sometimes make flimsy investments, yet they receive, at taxpayer expense, a bail out. Credit card users need a bail out – thus bankruptcy laws are developed.*

Perhaps now you begin to see why I say that bankruptcy law is very fascinating.


DianeOver the many years of helping clients, educating fellow lawyers, young law students, realtors, title companies and other professionals; plus volunteering to help our community I have been blessed to receive numerous awards, accolades and recognitions.  Here is link to a few: