What Should You Wear to Your Bankruptcy Hearing?

Guest post by Charleston, South Carolina Bankruptcy Lawyer, Russell A. DeMott

Follow a few simple rules, and you’ll be dressed for success at your bankruptcy hearing.

I don’t know about you, but I never seem to know what to wear.  I wear suits to court, of course, but that’s expected of a bankruptcy lawyer.  But when I go to other functions, it seems I’m either overdressed–usually in a suit I’d wear to court–or underdressed in what I call my “casual homeless” attire.  (That is, unless my wife intervenes before I walk out the door!)

There’s No Judge at Your Hearing

Your bankruptcy hearing is called  “341 hearing” (after Bankruptcy Code section 341) or the “First Meeting of Creditors.”  (Note, this does not mean there’s a second or third meeing.  It’s just what the hearing’s called.)

A trustee–usually another bankruptcy lawyer in your area–will preside over the hearing.  It’s a rather informal, administrative affair that’s usually over in a few minutes unless you’ve got a complicated case.  So the hearing isn’t like a trial in court; it’s far less formal.

“You Blend!”

What you really want to do is blend.  I can’t help but remember that scene from the movie, “My Cousin Vinny:”

Mona Lisa Vito: [Vinny looks at her funny] What?
Vinny Gambini: Nothing. You stick out like a sore thumb around here.
Mona Lisa Vito: Me? What about you?
Vinny Gambini: I fit in better than you. At least I’m wearing cowboy boots.
Mona Lisa Vito: Oh yeah, you blend.

I confess that I really don’t know what folks wear in New Mexico.  I’ve never been to your fair state–unfortunately.  But if you live in New Mexico, you know what the “average Joe” or the “average Jane” wears.  You should blend. The rule of thumb is what I call a “happy medium.”  Don’t dress up in your Sunday finest or like your going to a funeral.  But don’t like slob, either.  No “casual homeless!”  It might not be full-blown court, but it’s not a day at the lake, either.

And Another (Few) Things

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t wear flashy jewelry.
  • Take stock in the jewelry you do wear.  Was it listed in your bankruptcy schedules?  If not, make sure it is. Every trustee has stories about debtors who wore expensive jewelry to their hearing when it wasn’t listed in their property schedules.
  • Don’t wear anything that might distract or call attention to you.  Dress modestly.  Showing an inappropriate amount of skin isn’t a good idea; it will pique interest in your case and no good ever comes of that.

Your bankruptcy hearing is likely going to be an uneventful, quick hearing you’ll likely forget soon after you leave the hearing room.  And that’s a good thing.

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