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Brooklyn Bar hosts free lecture on consumer debt and bankruptcy

January 12, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Bar Association has three events scheduled for January including one that is free and open to the public on consumer debt and bankruptcy hosted by Fern Finkel and Richard Klass. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese
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When the average person thinks of the Brooklyn Bar Association, they’re likely to think that it’s a place primarily for lawyers and judges. However, the BBA’s Foundation Law Committee wants to change that perception through a series of free lectures that are open to the public and designed to inform the people of their rights.

On Monday night, the BBA’s Foundation Law Committee hosted a lecture titled “Consumer Debt and Bankruptcy: The Process, Defenses and Options,” with attorneys Fern Finkel and Richard Klass. It’s one of six lectures that the committee hosts each year.

“It’s about community outreach,” said Finkel, who is chair of the Foundation Law Committee. “The Brooklyn Bar Association wanted to do something more for the public. We bring in attorneys and judges to present programs to the public designed to help them know their rights.”

There are a few topics that are repeated each year — elder law, consumer debt and bankruptcy and landlord-tenant programs happen annually — while the other programs are designed to be timely issues that apply to the Brooklyn community.

“We try to find out what people need help with,” Finkel said. “A lot of times people are having a problem and more knowledge is needed, but they don’t always have to go out and hire an attorney. This is our way of bringing more knowledge to the issues that are legal in nature.”

Monday night’s lecture focused on an area that Klass been practicing in for 23 years, and he’s done about six or seven of the exact programs before. He explained that he generally has an idea of what he wants to talk about, but keeps the lecture conversational and encourages people to ask questions.

“At this point, it’s sort of a stream of consciousness,” Klass explained of his lectures. “It helps when people ask questions because they’re usually coming in with a specific problem that they need help with. A lot of people don’t know the basic information, which makes this a good program for them.”

During Klass’ lecture, he also tries to dispel bad information that circulates. One tip he suggested Monday — stay away from debt consolidators.

“Debt consolidation is another farce,” Klass warned. “When they take the money from the people, they take fees first, then if you have a problem and can’t continue to send money to pay off your debts all you have done is paid their fees and gotten ripped off.”

Klass took questions from the nearly 30 people in the audience, tried to suggest solutions to their issues and offered up helpful advice to questions that hadn’t been asked yet. If someone ever has a serious issue that needs more attention, the Foundation Law Committee’s lectures are co-sponsored by the Volunteer Lawyers Project and the BBA’s Lawyer Referral Service.

This was the second lecture the Foundation Law Committee has presented this year. It had an elder law presentation in November and anticipates another lecture in February, although the topic and date are yet to be finalized. Anyone interested should visit for more details on future lectures.


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