Bankruptcy attorneys could lose e-filing privileges

Legal decision makes registration mandatory

Maura Mazurowski//September 14, 2020

Bankruptcy attorneys could lose e-filing privileges

Legal decision makes registration mandatory

Maura Mazurowski//September 14, 2020

Bankruptcy lawyers who practice in the Eastern District of Virginia could lose their ability to e-file if they fail to register with the bar of the U.S. District Court.

This decision follows new protocols by the Eastern District Bankruptcy Court requiring all bankruptcy court bar members to be members of the district court bar as well, according to the court’s website.

Previously, bankruptcy lawyers in the Eastern District were not required to be certified in district court to practice in bankruptcy court.

The new rules went into effect Sept. 1.

“It used to be that you could be admitted to the bar of the bankruptcy court and that alone would give you the right to practice before the court,” said Richmond attorney Jeremy Williams. “The way it operates now is the other way around: You need to get admitted to the district court and then you get admitted to the bankruptcy court.”

The deadline for attorneys to file that they were in “good standing” with both the bankruptcy and district courts was Aug. 21. According to William C. Redden, the clerk of the Eastern District U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the bankruptcy bar was notified of these upcoming changes in August 2019.

Originally, bankruptcy lawyers who had yet to apply to the district court bar by Aug. 21 were to lose their e-filing privileges when the rules went into effect on Sept. 1. However, many attorneys have yet to confirm their standing with both courts and apply to become a member of the district court bar.

The district court is therefore allowing these attorneys an extension to get this done.

“The process was to have been completed by the end of the day on Sept. 1. Most of the members of the bar have complied timely. However, some have not, and to ensure that many members of the bar are allowed to practice in our court and to have the ability to e-file in our court, their ability to do so, for the moment, has not yet been suspended,” Redden said.

According to Redden, attorneys who have yet to register with the district court bar will be required to complete additional “supplemental information” that will be provided to the bankruptcy bar “soon.”

If these attorneys fail to complete the supplemental information – and the affirmation forms that were initially required – their e-filing privileges and ability to practice in bankruptcy court then will be terminated.

“[The court] is allowing a transition period, notwithstanding a court-provided period of one year, to get this accomplished,” Redden said. “While there will be a review process request for reposition, e-filing ability will not be granted in matter of course.”

Williams, who completed his paperwork in the spring, said he assumed there would be an extension to the deadline following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s my understanding there were quite a few who probably did not make the certification,” Williams said, though the number of attorneys who still need to register with the district court bar is unknown.

Frank J. Santoro, chief judge for the Eastern District Bankruptcy Court, did not respond to a request for comment.


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