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Debt Defense in 20-20 Vision

Introducing the 20-20 Memberships

We are introducing two new types of membership, the 20-20 and 20-20 plus. Right now, the difference is just how long they last, but it is likely that there will be some special content or materials for 2020+ before too long.

If you have watched the videos at the Overview of Litigation page, you know why we’re offering these products and why I think they’re a great deal. I will outline the new memberships briefly below.

First and mainly, the 20-20 membership will be a “pay-once” program. For a flat price you will receive all membership benefits for 12 months. This should get you all the way through to the end of any litigation you are involved in now. You won’t buy anything else from us or be charged again. Here’s what the 20-20 membership includes:

Teleconferences – currently we have them twice per week. Depending on need, that number could increase so that people regularly have an opportunity to ask questions in real time.

Access to member-only materials, including what used to be called the document bank. This gives you access to materials that have been created for a variety of different real-life situations as well as a large number of articles addressing the situations most debt litigants encounter. In other words, the 20-20 is a full membership, and you get everything members ever get.

Free access to all of our products. You won’t have to buy anything anymore. If you need a motion to compel pack, for example, you can download it for free. And that’s true of all of our materials that are currently for sale.

Specifically, that includes the Debt Defense Litigation Manual, the Three Weaknesses Almost every Debt Collector Has and how to Use them, materials on assignment contracts (not yet, but soon, a product), the Legal Research and Analysis report, and much more.

Comparison to Other Memberships

You can check the prices, but you’ll find that, added up, these materials and benefits would cost at least $1,000, so this is by far the lowest price we’ve ever offered. The 20-20 (regular) will cost $250 for 12 months, and the 20-20+ will cost $300 for 18 months. These prices will stay good at least through February 15.

Our other memberships are designed more on a pay-as-you-go basis. They all include at least two teleconferences per week, with the possibility of increasing as necessary to allow you to get questions asked and answered. Beyond that, they offer general access to most documents in what used to be called the document bank. And they have a graduated discount on specific products you might need. Our goal was to let people get and pay for what they need but not other stuff.

That turns out not to be ideal for some, since it involves repeated billing (monthly) and occasional extra expense when they need a new product. If you prefer, though, this membership remains available.

Our 20-20 memberships eliminate the repeated and occasional costs. Pay once up front and get it all for a year (20-20) or year and a half (20-20+). The overall price will be much lower than one of the other memberships if you end up needing one or more products, as most members will. I say that because if you need a discovery pack and any one motion pack you’re already saving money, and it is likely that you will need those things. Many members need much more.

Overview of Debt Litigation

The new 20:20 project –

New Year, New Kind of Membership

There are three videos in this series. Together, they describe the debt litigation process and almost everything you will encounter as you go through it. We have products for every situation, but these videos are more about the process than our products. Below the videos you will see more about a new product that brings all of our other materials together. If you prefer what we have previously offered, those things will still be available.

Part One

The debt and debt litigation industry.

Part 2

Debt Defense and why it can be so difficult

Part 3

Why Pro se works and how you can do it.

Here is the 20-20 Membership

We are introducing two new types of membership, the 20-20 and 20-20 plus. Right now, the difference is just how long they last, but it is likely that there will be some special content or materials for 2020+ before too long.

If you have watched the videos above, you know why we’re offering these products and why I think they’re a great deal. I will outline the new memberships briefly below.

First and mainly, the 20-20 membership will be a “pay-once” program. For a flat price you will receive all membership benefits for 12 months. This should get you all the way through to the end of any litigation you are involved in now. You won’t buy anything else from us or be charged again. Here’s what the 20-20 membership includes:

Teleconferences – currently we have them twice per week. Depending on need, that number could increase so that people regularly have an opportunity to ask questions in real time.

Access to member-only materials, including what used to be called the document bank. This gives you access to materials that have been created for a variety of different real-life situations as well as a large number of articles addressing the situations most debt litigants encounter. In other words, the 20-20 is a full membership, and you get everything members ever get.

Free access to all of our products. You won’t have to buy anything anymore. If you need a motion to compel pack, for example, you can download it for free. And that’s true of all of our materials that are currently for sale.

Specifically, that includes the Debt Defense Litigation Manual, the Three Weaknesses Almost every Debt Collector Has and how to Use them, materials on assignment contracts (not yet, but soon, a product), the Legal Research and Analysis report, and much more.

You can check the prices, but you’ll find that, added up, these materials and benefits would cost at least $1,000, so this is by far the lowest price we’ve ever offered. The 20-20 (regular) will cost $250 for 12 months, and the 20-20+ will cost $300 for 18 months. This membership should be available for sale as soon as December 27, and the prices will stay good through February 15.

Click here for a more detailed description and comparison of these new memberships to the other memberships.

Why It’s Hard to Find a Good Debt Lawyer you can Afford

Why it’s so Hard to Find a Good Debt Lawyer you Can Afford

For a copy of this article in pdf form, click here: hiring debt lawyers

What Lawyers Need to Charge for Debt Defense Work

In this article we talk about what lawyers need to get in debt cases and why you probably can do better by defending yourself.

I hear lots of different numbers from members who have tried to get a lawyer to represent them in debt cases – there’s no telling exactly what number you’ll hear if you talk to a lawyer regarding your specific case. Probably big. That isn’t necessarily wrong or a rip off in any way – it just reflects some underlying financial realities.

Law is a Business

Most debt lawyers who represent defendants are in it for ideological reasons – this is a type of law where the lawyers choose sides and pretty much stay on them. And as you should know, it pays much, much better to be on the side of big rich corporations than it does to represent the people they’re after. There may be some firms that have managed to automate and mechanize the defense process to such an extent that they can do a good job and make a bundle, but I haven’t seen or heard of them.

As far as I’ve ever seen, representing debt defendants is a very tough business. How does that translate into daily reality?

Daily Realities

First, an established lawyer needs to bill about $150 – $200 per hour. I know that seems like a lot,
and it is a lot, but you don’t just get a lawyer for that money – you get an office and a staff. Or to put it slightly differently, the lawyer has to hire those people and pay for those things out of what she charges you.

When a lawyer takes a case, and “appears” on your behalf in court, it often isn’t easy to “withdraw” from it later if, for example, you don’t pay your bills or if the case goes in unexpected or disastrous ways.

That means the lawyer, as a practical matter, has to charge you up front at least enough to make the case pay, taking his best guess where that case may go. And then hope for the best regarding whatever else you may come to owe. Hence a high retainer – often particularly high in debt cases because… let’s face it… you’re being sued because someone says you didn’t pay your bills.

Uncertainty

Then there’s the uncertainty regarding how much time the case will take – good lawyers often have lots to do, and lots of choices. Taking one case can mean NOT taking another one. A debt case, with relatively low amounts at stake, can be low on the totem pole of priorities.

The Duty to Make Fees Reasonable

The amount at stake – no matter how much you think your case is big – is small for most lawyers, and that raises an ethical issue. Lawyers are supposed to keep their fees somewhat in line with the results obtained.

Does saving you from a $25,000 debt justify a $10,000 bill? Maybe – although if you could afford the $10,000 you probably wouldn’t be being sued. What about a $7,500 debt though? How much fee is justified there?

The average lawyer is caught between a rock and a hard spot in debt cases, because doing a good job takes time. If it’s a big debt, it might allow more time, but getting the fee could get tough. If it’s a small debt, it won’t justify the fee.

And then there’s the learning curve. Most lawyers don’t know debt law, and they don’t know how much they don’t know. The good ones know it could take some time to catch up, but how do they charge you for that? That’s easy to do in a corporate merger involving millions of dollars, not so easy in a debt case where you’re sweating bullets over ten thousand in possible liability.

The bad ones don’t worry about catching up. But you’ll obviously pay for it one way or another, right?

Leverage

We just came out with a product – the First Response Kit – that includes an Answer and a first set of discovery – interrogatories, requests for documents, and requests for admissions. That took about ten hours to create.

Your Lawyer Works One Case at a Time

A lawyer working on your case would probably charge, or want to charge, around $1,500 – $2,000 for doing that. Or would have to do a less thorough job. And that’s just one small example of the way the business works. Every time someone has to show up for your case or do any work on it, someone has to pay.

Or Maybe a Little More

If the lawyer can take a large number of cases, he or she can achieve some economy of scale – that is, can divide the cost of showing up among all the clients who need it on a given day. But it’s tough, and very rare, for anyone to manage this.

The Debt Collector’s Lawyer Works a Hundred Cases at a Time

The lawyer suing you shows up on a hundred cases at a time. That’s because he filed those suits, and it doesn’t matter whether the people being sued want to show up or not – they’re in the case because he put them there. The debt defense lawyer, on the other hand, is representing only voluntary clients. When I was practicing law, I’d send people letters suggesting, more or less, that they hire me. I got a 3–5% call-back rate. That is, only 3-5% of the people I sent letters to even discussed the suit with me.

A union-paid lawyer I knew offered all union employees being sued for debt free representation. And under his circumstances, he could tell them he’d get them off every time. He got a 1% return on his letters.

That meant the debt collector’s lawyer could work 100 times more efficiently at the early stage of a lawsuit.  As the suit wore on, some of that advantage went away, but they never lost it all. And that advantage translated into every document created, every argument made, and every appearance at court throughout the lawsuit.

And that’s why it’s so hard for you to get a good debt lawyer at a price you can afford. Your lawyer is always fighting against a lawyer who can charge less to do more for his or her clients.

There Is a Happy Ending

As uneven as the process is in terms of hiring a lawyer, there is another way. You can represent yourself.

Sure, you have challenges, from scheduling for hearings to learning a bunch of new stuff. But you don’t have to make $200 per hour or worry about cutting corners to justify what you charge. You get the full value of your work, and it is often worth much more than $200 per hour.

And when you make the other side work, you know you’re making them worry because someone is paying their lawyer that $200 per hour.

Of course you want to do a good job, but because the case is worth the full value to you, you can take the time to do a good job. If the time comes when you decide it isn’t worth fighting anymore, you can stop. You’ll lose the case if you do, mind you, but it’s your choice, while a lawyer representing you wouldn’t have that choice and thus must charge you to prepare for the possibility of being stuck in a case.

All you need is a little help doing some of the new stuff that you don’t understand, and you can get that help from us.

Your Legal Leg Up

Your Legal Leg Up is a website and business dedicated to helping people defend themselves from debt lawsuits without having to hire a lawyer. As you can see below, we have a number of products as well as memberships that should help you wherever you are in the process. In addition to that, our website is a resource for all. Many of the articles and materials are reserved for members, but many are available to everyone.

Finding Resources

Our website is both a business and a public resource, and you can use it to find information on a wide variety of debt law-related topics. While many of our resources are restricted to members, of course, many more are free to the public. Please feel free to use it. Every page has a site search button in both the header and footer. It’s a little magnifying glass icon that looks like this:

Click on the magnifying glass icon, and a small window opens. Put in a key word – a word you think relates to what you’re looking for – and enter. You will get a page of results.

Why Defend Yourself from Debt Collectors

Why you Should Defend against Debt Collectors, and Why you Can Do it Yourself

Get a copy of this article in PDF format by clicking here: why defend yourself

When you are sued by a debt collector, you are presented with two questions that often merge into one because of money.

  • Should you defend yourself (at all) from the lawsuit?
  • And if you do defend, do you have to have a lawyer?

A lot of people answer the second question first. They decide they need to have a lawyer in order to get anything done, and then they decide they cannot afford a lawyer, so they fail to defend themselves at all. This is a mistake.

First: Should you defend yourself?

Our answer to this question is absolutely “Yes.”

There is a tendency for people to think that lawsuits (filed against them) are only filed because the lawsuit is “good,” and that the plaintiff will or should win. That isn’t really true of any kind of lawsuit. In most kinds of law, however, the plaintiff’s lawyer will have done some research into the law and facts and will have some confidence that it’s a winner. After all, in most kinds of lawsuit, one expects a defense – the lawyer anticipates spending a considerable amount of time and money on the case before collecting anything significant.

And most plaintiffs are at least somewhat reluctant to start a lawsuit because of time and expense; often they are extremely reluctant, and with good reason.

Debt Law is Different

These things are simply not true of debt cases. In debt cases, a debt purchaser buys hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of supposed debt and files suit without ever doing ANY research into the validity of the debt at all. When they file suit, very few debt collectors have any idea at all of whether they have a right to the money, and they have little, if any, evidence of the debt. They think they might be able to get some if they have to, but they file suit expecting not to need any evidence at all. And they’re usually right.

They Expect you to Give Up

They design their cases to cause people to give up without fighting. Since most people, in fact, do give up one way or another, the whole debt collection business is based on not spending money or time on a case.  As soon as you do anything at all to defend, you cause the company to diverge from its business model. Of course, they know some people won’t just give up – they know people hate them, after all. So even though you have stepped out of their business model by resisting, you haven’t really challenged them yet. To challenge them, you must make them spend time and money on your case alone. We’ll discuss that below.

What if you Don’t Want to Fight?

Actually, NO ONE really wants to fight. It takes time and involves various uncomfortable feelings, from insecurity to anger, to frustration. You will at some point need to weigh these lifestyle questions, but the appropriate place to start is with the legal questions. And our answer to those is that it makes sense, always, to fight the debt collector.

Regarding the more practical questions, it is also usually true that fighting the debt collector will pay off very well. For example, if they’re suing you for $5,000, it’s a fair bet that they have already damaged your credit, and they are obviously trying to get at least $5,000 from you. If you defend yourself, you can save the $5,000 and repair your credit: what hourly rate would that be if it took you 50 hours of your time? $100/hour.

And the amount at stake is often much more than $5,000, and the time required to defend often much less than 50 hours, but you will have to make your own estimates of these things.

What if you Really Think you Owe the Money?

We get this question a lot because for most people, debt lawsuits are not “lightning from a clear blue sky,” as the saying goes. They know they haven’t been paying some bill, and people have often been bugging them about it. So should you still fight?

Yes, absolutely.

And this is because although you think you owe money, you might not owe the person suing you the money, and you might not owe what they’re suing you for. On top of that, and behind our legal system, is that you only “owe” what they can prove you owe – and most debt collectors cannot prove you owe anything. So even if you think you owe, you should fight to make sure you’re dealing with the right person for the right amount – and that they can prove it.

What if you Want to Settle?

If you hope to settle, you still need to start out by fighting – people only settle lawsuits when they think doing so is the best outcome for them. In other words, they’ll settle if you persuade them that they’ll make more money by settling than by not settling. You do that by fighting – nothing makes them think the case is going to take money to win than by making them spend money. That’s just common sense, right?

Do You Need a Lawyer to Defend You?

The answer to the question of whether to fight or not is almost always “yes.” And if you doubt that, consider how many times corporations simply roll over when people sue them – it almost never, ever happens. You know that, right? But even if you decide you should fight, you have to decide HOW to fight. Do you need a lawyer? or can you do this by yourself?

Remember what we said about “most” lawsuits – the lawyers do back up work and have a pretty good idea they deserve to win. Additionally, they typically expect to, and do, spend quite a bit of time and money to make sure they do win. For these reasons, and others, you might not want to handle a typical lawsuit pro se.

Debt law is not like that at all.

Debt Law is Different

We discuss this question in great detail in a lot of places, and therefore we will only touch on it lightly here, but debt law is not like other forms of litigation. It will almost always come down to a dispute about whether certain records should be allowed as evidence. And of course you need not to admit or do things that will hurt you. You almost certainly will not need witnesses, and they probably won’t have any, either. Thus debt law is relatively simple, and people can defend themselves without a lawyer.

We can help you do that in a lot of ways.

You will find a lot of help on many topics related to debt law on this site by using our search button at the top of the page or in the footer. And you can sign up for free information by going to this link and signing up. Sign up for Free Information.

 

 

 

 

Motions in Limine – to Exclude Evidence

What Pro Se Debt Defendants Need to Know about Motions in Limine

You can get a copy of this article in PDF form by clicking here: motions in limine article

In this article we discuss a sort of motion that we think pro se parties underuse – motions in limine to exclude evidence at trial. They give you a chance to explain how the rule against hearsay prevents documents created out of court from being used as evidence unless there’s an exception. And they give you a chance to show how the plaintiff’s evidence does not meet the exception it’s planning to invoke, the business records exception. On a motion in limine, you can make your arguments before the trial begins, when things are likely to be overlooked in the heat and action of the trial.

What are Motions in Limine?

Motions in Limine are motions filed before trial. “Limine” is Latin for “threshold,” so these motions are usually brought right before trial, when it’s pretty clear what the other side plans to do.

They are usually directed at evidence, but they could also be directed at legal theories or arguments.

Why Use Them?

Like other parts of litigation, they are directed at the legal merits of the case but could have their most powerful impact on negotiations. Thus you bring your motion and attempt to win it for legal reasons, but if you do manage to win it, you will be able to keep the debt collector from putting on the most important parts of its evidence. And if that happens, it may give up without your needing to go to the trial at all.

Thus motions in limine can be very significant turning points. Or they can simplify matters for you at trial if that happens.

There’s another reason for pro se parties to use motions in limine. As a pro se party in a system run by lawyers and judges, it can be hard to get listened to. Judges may or may not mean to pay more attention to lawyers, but they themselves WERE lawyers, their friends are lawyers, and lawyers are the ones they see day in and day out.

They naturally pay more attention to them for just those reasons.

And then there’s the fact that lawyers understand the system and are trained in it. They can do dumb things, of course, but usually they don’t. Judges know that, and they know that pro se parties lack this training, so they naturally take what you say with a grain of salt.

And then there’s the fact that trials move very quickly, and the judge will be watching the clock very carefully. Will everything you say get heard? Not at trial.

You have a much better chance to get heard at a hearing on a motion to exclude. That will give you a chance to make an impression on the judge, explain some of the legal concepts behind the case, and make your arguments regarding evidence at a time when the court is freer to give what you say some thought. And it helps the judge get to know you a little bit and to be reminded of certain rules of evidence.

All of these things are absolutely vital to your chances of success.

What Motions in Limine are NOT

Motions in limine are not motions for summary judgment. That is, you could argue in a motion in limine that the other side should not be able to introduce certain evidence or make certain arguments, but a motion in limine is not the place to ask for a ruling on the entire case in your favor. For that you need a motion for summary judgment, and this comes much earlier in the process.

What Happens after a Motion in Limine?

What you’re hoping for is a ruling on the spot that the debt collector will not be able to use certain evidence or arguments, and that does happen sometimes. More often, perhaps, the court will withhold its ruling until the debt collector tries to use the evidence. The theory behind this is that the court wants to judge from the context of the case whether the evidence is necessary and fair.

In reality, courts should not wait on most of the issues you’re likely to move on. That’s because your arguments will likely be addressed to the legal admissibility and sufficiency of the evidence, and no amount of case context can substitute for presenting the necessary bases for the business records exception, for example. But courts can be reluctant to rule on a motion that destroys one party’s chances of winning before trial.

Timing

While you could bring a motion in limine fairly early in a case, the court will likely not rule on it before the eve of trial. And either the court will order, or your local rules may provide, a date before which motions in limine must be brought.

In other words, there’s going to be a deadline for filing your motion. You need to know that deadline and abide by it. Most typically what happens is the court wants lists of witnesses and exhibits a week or two before trial, followed by a (final) pretrial conference. You would write your motions in limine in time to be heard at that final pretrial conference.

Work on Motion in Limine

In a debt case everything about their case is predictable, even if you don’t know for sure what they’ve got.

Where the person suing you is a debt collector, you know that the debt collector’s case depends on getting some bills that it did not create into evidence. You should know (from discovery) exactly what those bills are and where they came from long before trial. And you also need to know how they plan to get them into evidence. You find these things out through the discovery process.

Rulings on Motions in Limine are not Permanent

Rulings on motions in limine are subject to change. The court could grant your motion before trial and then change its mind, or vice-versa. That means you will still need to object at trial – or be prepared to argue even if you won – in order to protect your rights. And if you lost, you should take another shot at it. Don’t be intimidated – the court will tell you if it is willing to hear your arguments or not.

What makes motions in limine useful is that they give you a chance to make your arguments in the cool light of reason rather than the heat of trial. That might be your best chance to get heard for the pro se.

For Help

You can find help on this site by just looking around, or by doing a site search using the search bar in the header or footer of every page, and of course we have many products that will simplify whatever you’re trying to do in debt defense. You can find those in the products and membership pages. Sign up here for free information.

What to Do if Sued

Sued for Debt

So You’re Being Sued for Debt

You have learned, one way or another, that you are being sued for a debt. If so, you are in a club containing many millions of people, but you probably feel all alone. What do you do? And how do you do it? Where do you turn, and who can help?

Since you’re here, you know that WE can help. We help people beat the debt collectors and protect what’s theirs.

Fight

We don’t make any bones about it – we think that if you’re sued by a debt collector you have a great chance of winning. And if you lose, it hardly ever costs you anything more than not fighting would have done. If you want to settle, you always start by fighting because debt collectors never settle to make YOUR life easier, they only settle make themselves more profit, and if you fight you instantly drive the value of the suit down in their eyes. Thus you have everything to gain and little to lose in most situations. You should fight.

Lawyer or Not?

We’ve addressed this question many times in various posts, and we do in our First Response Kit, too. But for this article we’re just going to talk about the cost of a lawyer. For most of our members, the cost of a lawyer is the most important thing, and they are expensive.

The average lawyer in a city tries to make $200 per hour these days. They’re running a business, have a staff, and need to make a profit. In debt defense, they also know that not everyone is able to pay. Thus, those who do pay, have to pay more.

With $200 per hour as a target, the lawyer either has to charge you that as an hourly rate or create a flat fee that will, she hopes, bring that average return. Through it all, most people discussing legal fees with us say that lawyers are trying to get them to pay at least $2,500 for their cases. For most people, this is simply too much, and the lawyer will want much of that up-front. So lawyers are simply out of reach for most people in debt trouble.

But here’s the thing: debt law, unlike most kinds of law, is well-suited to pro se (self-representation) defense. And with a little help from us, you’ll know more than most lawyers you talk to will know about this kind of law anyway.

Debt Law is Good for Pro Se Defense

There are a few reasons debt law is good for pro se defense. First, debt law is mostly about rules of evidence. They’re going to want to get some records into evidence, and you’re going to want to stop them from doing that. If you can keep those records out and avoid a few basic mistakes, you should win. This is not the kind of law that involves extensive testimony or cross-examination – you won’t need to be brilliant. You will need to do basic things that you can learn – we can teach you.

The other main reason debt law is good for self-representation is economic. They want to make $200 per hour, but you don’t have to get that much. And the debt collector/lawyer is trying to get that from half of what he can collect from you (the debt buyer gets the other half), while you’re saving 100 percent of what you can save. Thus you can spend more time on the case. It’s your life, and it matters more to you than anyone else. Every time you do something to defend yourself the lawyer on the other side will be worried about whether she’ll get paid for working on your case – this is a big, big advantage.

What to Do?

Your defense will start with an answer or a motion. Our First Response Kit will guide you through that. We also suggest that you get right onto the process of discovery, and the First Response Kit will do as much to help make that easy for you as possible. It includes samples of all the documents you’ll probably need. You’ll have to do SOME work for sure, but it doesn’t get any easier for you than this.

Our First Response Kit

A great place to start your defense is our First Response Kit. It helps you consider your chances of winning (vs. not fighting at all) and whether to fight, whether to get a lawyer, and if you’re going to represent yourself, how to do that. We get you started with a sample Answer and sample discovery that you can modify to fit your situation. This is as easy a way to get started with your defense as is possible. Read about it here.

They Laughed at Me but Then

The Debt Collectors Laughed at Me

When I Said “Here!” in Court

But When I Gave Them My Answer …

It looked like a typical day at court – – the debt collection lawyers were circling the table in front of the judge like vultures flying around some unfortunate animal on its last legs. There must have been ten –maybe fifteen—of them, and each time the judge called out a defendant’s name – – “Smith!… Jones!… Williams!… Thompson!…”- – there was silence, and then one of the lawyers would say in a bored voice, “Call for default.” And the judge said, “Default.”

– – Just like that, the debt collectors had their judgments, and as soon as that court session was over, they were going down to start the garnishment process. Start taking some poor guy’s paycheck.

The judge must have given the debt collectors fifty defaults before they reached my name, and it looked like there were more than a hundred more to go after me.

“Westmore!” the judge called out.

“Here!” I said.

In the shocked silence that followed I heard someone laugh. And I could see people nudging each other with their elbows. “What’s he doing?” one woman whispered, just loud enough for me to hear. I heard someone snicker. “Just a regular guy,” someone else said. “They’ll eat his lunch!” The debt collection lawyers smirked among themselves. That’s what they thought, too. No one EVER fights back.

Then I handed the Court My Answer

I walked up to the court clerk and handed her my Answer to the Petition.

It looked good.

Sharp and professional.

And it had a counterclaim. She raised her eyebrow with a new respect as she took the document and entered it onto the record. The vultures got strangely quiet and looked away when I dropped off a copy of my Answer and Counterclaim with the debt collection lawyer (I’ll call him “Mr. Nice Guy”) who had raised his hand on my way back to my seat.

The people who had been laughing at me could feel the change that had come over the court room. They got quiet, and I could sense their new respect.

They smiled and moved over to make room for me when I wanted to sit back down. Mr. Nice Guy was still smirking when he took the documents I handed him, but the smile started to fade when he noticed the counterclaim. And it was ancient history by the time he noticed I’d attached interrogatories, requests for admissions, and requests for documents to my Answer and Counterclaim.

He knew he was in for a fight. He knew it was going to cost him. He knew he was going to lose money if he kept after me. And he knew he might lose the case. He had come expecting a patsy—all those vultures had, you could see that just by looking at their smooth, scornful faces. I doubt if a single one of those lawyers ever did a day’s worth of real work in their lives!

Well, he’d run into a buzz saw this time.

A Complete Success!

Two days later I received a letter that said:

Dear Mr. James Westmore, My client has agreed to offer to settle our cases against each other as a mutual dismissal with prejudice. If that is acceptable to you, please sign the attached stipulation for dismissal of the lawsuits the parties have against each other and return them to me for filing.

Sincerely,
Mr. Nice Guy

I decided to let the debt collector go. I could have said “no” and tried to make him pay me something to get out of it (I think I had him cold), but… who wants to spend the rest of his life in court if you don’t have to?

It was as easy as that, although I know it isn’t always that easy – not by a long shot. Still, when you start fighting everything is leaning your way. It’s just that no one knows it.

I suddenly had a whole new life in front of me. So I made a quick call to the lawyer and said his offer was acceptable to me…if they would cancel the debt I supposedly owed and revoke any damage they had done to my credit report.

After a pause, Mr. Nice Guy gave in. So I wrote that right into the stipulation of dismissal, signed and sent it back to “Mr. Nice Guy & Associates.”

It was over. Just like that, a $7,000 credit card bill that debt collectors had harassed me about for three years was gone. And all the reports they had made to the credit agencies were gone with them.

How I Learned to Protect Myself in Court

Just by chance, I bumped into one of the “bystanders” who had seen me say “Here!” on that fateful day in court. He wanted to know how it had turned out for me.

When I told him, he asked me if I was a lawyer or “knew” somebody!

He was shocked when I told him that the only thing I knew about the law was stuff I had learned from YourLegalLegUp – a business that gives regular people everything they need to defeat the debt collectors. I told him how I’d learned all about the debt collectors and how they usually didn’t have what they needed to win their lawsuits. I told him I’d even gotten the forms I needed, too – “just a few easy changes was all I needed to make!”

“Wow,” he said. “It cost me over $1500 to hire a lawyer. And he didn’t even get my credit report changed!”

I was almost embarrassed to say how little it cost me to defend myself.

Look in the Mirror – What Do You See?

These days, when I look in a mirror I see a winner looking back. You won’t believe how much that is worth.

Before the debt collector sued me, back when they were just calling me every day, I got so that I hated to hear the phone ring. To tell the truth, there were many times I just couldn’t answer the phone at all. If an old high school friend tried to reach me, and I didn’t recognize his phone number, well, that was too bad. I missed the call. I wouldn’t answer the doorbell, either, unless I was expecting someone.

It’s hard to be a good friend or neighbor if you dread answering the phone, you know? It’s also hard to be a good neighbor if you’re afraid to answer the door when the doorbell rings or walk outside on the porch on a nice night when other people are out there.

And after a while it can be hard to look yourself in the mirror.

That’s all changed for me now, though. Now I like what I see, and you can too.

Why’d I Do It?

I won’t kid you – – it was scary to stand up and say “Here!” that first time. It was a little embarrassing to have all those people looking at me – – even though I’d never met them before and didn’t expect to meet them again. So why would I care what they thought? I cared because I’m like most people. We do care. I didn’t want to be the center of attention and didn’t want to be laughed at or pitied or scorned by strangers. That’s human nature.

I did it, though, because I was fed up. I was sick and tired of those debt collectors and their nasty voices. Sick of their contemptuous looks. Tired of being bullied and threatened by some anonymous punk on the phone. Plus I didn’t have the money to hire a lawyer –or to lose the case, either.

And I was fed up with feeling hopeless and pushed around.

It Changed My Life

And now that I’ve done it, it’s changed my point of view completely. The whole world looks and feels different to me in ways I never would have believed. I look in the mirror and like what I see again because I know I’m the guy – – yeah, that guy right there in the mirror!- – that’s the only one who stood up in court and said “Here!” that day.

I’m the one who fought back.

And I’m the one who won’t have to hear from the debt collectors any more or try to scrounge every cent I possibly can to keep the wolves away from the door. That’s me! It feels great to know I was brave enough to do what it took. No one will ever take that feeling away from me again.

To tell you the truth, the whole thing was absurdly easy. (The work was all in my head.) I spent a few hours reading the Manual, a few hours watching videos, and an hour or two putting together the documents I gave the court. The lawsuit was for about $7,000, so I figure I “made” about $1,000 per hour defending myself. It’s better than what I usually get at my job, let me tell you!

Other people sometimes have to do much more, but once you start fighting things should go your way. That’s because they really usually don’t have what they need and everything you do makes them spend $200 per hour fighting you. That’s money they know they might never get back even if they win because they don’t know if they’ll ever be able to collect it. It’s sweet.

I like what I see when I look in the mirror now, and I feel good about answering the phone or the door.

It’s the little things in life that are so big, isn’t it? Now I’m a good friend and neighbor again. I hold my head up when I’m out in public. Little things that are so huge.

I’m a new man!

My wife has certainly noticed the difference. Not only do we both have a sense of security we’d been missing for so long, but she also says she’d about lost the man she fell in love with. And she lets me know she’s glad I’m back every night! It’s like a second honeymoon.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Defend Yourself from the Debt Collectors

– Protect What’s Yours

You too can defend yourself from the debt collectors. You can have the good feelings “Jim Westmore” has. The above is a fictitious letter, but it’s drawn from the things real people have written to me many times. The results are not fictional.

Let me share just a few of the things some real people have said in their own words –and I’ve never paid, or even asked, for any of these testimonials. Notice the confidence and joy in every word they say.

Thanks for your work, Kenneth, I believe you have done a great job creating yourlegallegup.com. It helps in many ways, not only I fought against unfair debt collectors, but also I was educating myself.

I went through your work and crafted it to fit my case circumstances. Your “legal bundle” gave me ideas and the direction I should follow and, together with research skills, it made great power in defending the case.

One more thing. I’ve got the letter from the lawyers last night. The letter is addressed to the court and it says it is plaintiff’s “voluntary dismissal…”

Yes, it works. Yes, it wins. I appreciate you sharing your great knowledge.

Thanks, Andrew, Georgia

Hi Ken,

You have GREAT videos!! There’s something about seeing the videos and hearing your voice that makes the material all the more easy to absorb!
Thanks again for your continued support and help!! 🙂 Christine, Michigan

Ken, Just a quick email to say THANK YOU for your well-written manual! I was scared to death when I got a summons and complaint served on me by a debt collection attorney. I did exactly what you said, though, and basically let them know I wasn’t going away….and that was pretty much it. The attorney folded like a cheap suit, and I have to say it almost felt better than sex!

Thanks again,

Gary, Ohio

I settled and it was a victory on my terms! Thank you for the manual and working with me thru my emotions and getting me to the end….I waited to respond to until I saw for myself….It works to fightback! THANK YOU …THANK YOU…Ken.

I saved several thousand dollars….money well spent on the manual….

Olivia, California

Again Thank you very much for all your great advice-hints. I wont keep messaging you because I know you have a life over there too! But again Thank you so very much. If you make it out to Seattle let me know. Star bucks is definitely on me as well as dinner.

And I’m serious.

Kevin, Seattle

Today I received in the mail an offer “Stipulation For Dismissal With Prejudice”,which basically states the Plaintiff will dismiss their Complaint if I dismiss my counterclaim.

Its a done deal. Over five thousand dollars just like that!

Your litigation materials were clear, vital and necessary tools for me to win. All the examples,logic and powerful arguments presented in your materials helped me beyond belief! I am eternally grateful,and right now quite ecstatic!

Your materials are simply the best and finest of its type anywhere for pro se defendants facing debt lawsuits!

Thanks Ken,

Frank, Arizona

The great thing about your materials is that they take away the fear of going to court. I can never thank you enough for that!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Barbara, Maine

The Secret of Their Success

As anybody who knows me or has visited our site (Your Legal Leg Up) can see, we have devoted a great deal of blood, sweat and tears to helping ordinary people stand up to the debt collectors. As a former attorney who represented hundreds of people being sued by debt collectors, I know what it’s like to be harassed and sued, and I know what it takes to fight back. We have written dozens of articles, several full length books, and created over a hundred videos on defending yourself from debt collectors.

What makes it work, though, is actually very simple. Here’s the “secret.”

Debt collectors usually don’t have what they need to win a lawsuit from you when they file suit against you… And they usually can’t get what they need without spending more than the lawsuit is worth… if you fight back with knowledge and determination.

It isn’t hard! The main battle is in your head. Once you get used to the idea of speaking to the lawyers and the judge, once you see that they’re just people who don’t usually have to work very hard and who really don’t like to work hard, you’ll have all the advantages in your case.

The debt collectors win about 80 to 90 percent of their cases without a fight. If you convince them that you know how to fight and that you will fight – – to the bitter end if need be – – they’d rather leave you alone. That’s the secret.

Our materials tell you what you need to know so that you can fight back. And we’re there to encourage you to do it when things seem a little scary so that you will fight back.

You’ll Deserve the Credit!

We offer our help. Our materials will inform you and give you the tools… but in the end the victory is yours. And you will deserve the pride you feel when you look in the mirror. And the peace of mind that comes from knowing that debt collectors will never push you around again. Because you are part of that very exclusive club of people who will actually stand up and fight.

You’ll deserve all the credit and peace of mind you earn for yourself.

And you will see the world differently – we guarantee it.

Our Materials are Guaranteed

If you’re being sued (or being pursued) by a debt collector and get our materials… we like your chances of winning –they’re great!– but we can’t guarantee you will win or that they’ll take the settlement you offer. Sometimes the debt collectors can get what they need and are willing to spend what it takes to get you even though it means they will lose money. That’s just life. What we can and do guarantee, though, is that you will be satisfied with the materials and the service you get, or you can have your money back. We wouldn’t want it. We also guarantee that if you decide to settle your case (instead of going all the way to trial), you will save at least twice what the materials cost you. Probably much much more.

One customer decided to pay the debt collector $500 rather than fight to the very end. But he had been sued for $12,000. And he made them clear his credit report.

We thought he would win the case –maybe make them pay him something—but he decided he had better things to do. If you ever feel the same way—that you’ll do better in your life if you settle for a small fraction of what they claim you owe—you’ll get a settlement offer that saves you at least twice what you paid for the materialsor you get your money back from us.

We’ll take that risk. Gladly. That way you don’t risk anything on the materials.

Now you just need to move quickly. And that’s mainly because if they’re suing you – or about to sue you – you don’t have time to waste.

 

The Most Dangerous Myth for Consumers in Debt

The Most Dangerous Myth for Consumers in Debt

For a free copy of this article in PDF format, click here: the Most Dangerous Myth

Consumers who owe money – debtors – often believe a lot of myths that are bad for them. Debtors can be desperate and will look for what seems the easiest, fastest way out of trouble. That makes sense – if you’re being sued you do need immediate action. But you must be on guard for myths that will hurt you by luring you into the wrong action, or no action.

And the worst myth being played to people being sued is the idea that somehow someone else will take care of them. It shows up in many ways and is always bad news. It isn’t necessarily your fault if you have believed this destructive myth – there are a lot of people peddling it. But your chances to beat the debt collectors and protect your money depend on your taking charge.

The Myth – where does it show up and how does it do so much damage?

Let’s look at some of the biggest examples of the myth that someone ELSE will take care of you.

People Think the Debt Collectors will Try to be Fair

Everybody KNOWS this: Debt collectors make very little effort to be fair once a lawsuit is filed – and they don’t try much before that, either.

Once you’re in a debt collector’s sights, the only thing they really care about is getting your money.  At the “harassment stage,” the debt collectors are paid depending on how much they can get you to pay, and not many people think they trust them to tell the truth. And yet so many people tell me they have offered information or money to the debt collectors or asked them to give them a break in some way. They SAY they don’t trust them, but then they depend on them to make a fair or helpful offer. And when they’re talking to them about “how much they owe,” they believe the debt collector instead of demanding proof.

You’ve learned to tell the truth, so you trust and believe the debt collector on the phone will tell you the truth. And you do that even while you, yourself, might feel free to lie to them at any given point.

The debt collectors know all that, and you can’t trust a word they say. You must take care of yourself, and with debt collectors, that means checking every fact they claim and making them write down every promise they make. Anything short of those things is trusting someone you don’t know, who doesn’t care about you, and has strong financial incentive to rip you off, to do the right thing. That’s naïve and foolish – and it happens all the time.

People Think the Lawyers Will be Fair

I know, you’ve probably heard the joke: “How do you know if a lawyer is lying?” – “His lips are moving.” It’s fashionable to say bad things about lawyers, and everybody knows, in the abstract, not to trust them. But there are two major forces going against you in a debt case. First, lawyers are not all untrustworthy, and most of them don’t sound like they are. They make their living by getting people to believe and trust them, after all. The second reason is more insidious: it is power. Lawyers in debt cases have the power to make your life very difficult. They can embarrass you, put you to enormous stress and expense, and they often treat you like dirt. In addition to that, they represent large, rich companies, while you are a financially stressed individual.

Faced with such a difficult situation, it’s easy to hope for the best. And if you can hope it, you can believe it, right?

Legal Ethics

The lawyers are supposed to be careful, at least, before filing suit. They have an ethical obligation not to bring meritless suits.

Do you believe they make that effort when suing debtors?  Probably not – and you would be right. The courts wink at the collection process, allowing lawyers to “rely” on the statements of the creditors that you owe the money. In the case of debt buyers, ironically, the very agreements by which they buy debt say that the records cannot be trusted and are not guaranteed. But the lawyers forge ahead usually without the slightest idea of what’s in the case, let alone whether it’s right or not.

And the courts let them.

On a more fundamental level, a lawyer’s main and almost exclusive duty is to the advantage of his or her client. It isn’t ethical for a lawyer to “cut you a break” at the expense of his or her client. They won’t ever do it.

And yet debtors share information and throw themselves on the mercy of these sharks by the thousands per DAY. That’s trusting the myth.

Trusting the Courts

Most people trust the courts. They know that a lot of judges are bozos in black gowns, and they know that most judges come from the plaintiff’s side of the law. They know the legal system is skewed in favor of the rich even as the laws are skewed in favor of the rich. They know, theoretically, that trusting judges to take care of them is a big mistake.

And yet you would not believe how many people tell me the judge should have seen through something or not allowed the debt collector to do something – often without even having asked the judge for what they wanted.

Know this: it is not the courts’s job to take care of you. They give only the briefest look, if any at all, at the outcomes of debt cases – they don’t have time, they don’t care, and they aren’t even supposed to care. The legal system is designed as an “adversary” system. That is, it is a fight, and in any fight people could use various strategies. The court will let you use almost any strategy you choose, and if that causes you to lose it isn’t their fault or concern.

The courts will not require the debt collectors to put on admissible evidence. If they did, most debt collectors would never win their cases. Instead, it is up to you to object to evidence you don’t like and make the court keep it out. If you don’t do that, the court lets it in.

And yet people expect the court to try to make the outcome of cases fair. They do not. Believing they will is believing the myth that someone else will take care of you.

In daily life, people do look out for each other quite a bit. In legal life, NEVER.

You wouldn’t believe how many people do not even show up in court “because they don’t owe the money.” They somehow trust someone to see that and care, but this is just foolish.

The Myth, outside of Court

People in debt frequently look to other people for help in the belief that those people will, in fact, help them. On the internet, there are people earnestly telling you that no one owes anybody anything (the “Accept for Value” idea), yet they’d be outraged if you didn’t pay them – just as you would be outraged if you went to work and your boss told you that. To believe the A4V theory is to believe that someone is taking care of you. More than that, to believe the people hawking that, or any other program, is also to believe the myth.

Even Me

Everything I’m saying here applies to me, too.  You might be surprised how often I get emails or messages asking me what they should do and presenting pages of facts or laws. They want me to take care of them – they are trusting me to take care of them.

Representing yourself pro se means developing your OWN judgment. It requires carefully weighing facts and motivations and coming to your own conclusions. It means figuring out the facts and how to get them.

It takes work, and it takes time.

When debt collectors sue you for debt, you have a very good chance to win. But it is up to you to make that happen. Our materials and memberships exist to help you know what you need to do and to help you do it. We want to teach you how to defend yourself. Once you learn that, it changes your whole view of the world. It frees you from the myth that someone else will do it for you and lets you soar on your own wings.

Your Legal Leg Up

Your Legal Leg Up is dedicated to helping people defend themselves from debt lawsuits without having to hire a lawyer. Lawsuits have a number of points where specific action is called or, and we have products to help you deal with most of these situations. We also have memberships that give you access to more materials and better training, and also provide a regular opportunity to ask questions and get answers in real-time. You can use this time to find out what the debt collectors are trying to do and what you might do in response, and you can get guidance on the issues that matter and how to think about and address them.

In addition to that, our website is a resource for all. Many of the articles and materials are reserved for members, but many others are available to everyone. Every page has a site search button in both the header and footer. Put in a key word – a word you think relates to what you’re looking for – and enter. You will get a page of results.

Products Related to this Article

Because this is a general article, there are not any products specifically related to this post. I do suggest asserting your rights early and often, and you might find our Take Control of your Life product helpful in that. I also suggest great care in researching and analyzing facts and law. You might find our Guide to Legal Research and Analysis product helpful for that.

Beyond that, if you are facing significant debt problems, I’d suggest our memberships.

Memberships

Members get discounts on all products as well as unlimited opportunities to join our regularly scheduled teleconferences. This gives invaluable real-time assistance, answers to questions, help with strategies, and encouragement. You also get the Litigation Manual and the Three Weaknesses Report for free with membership. Find out about memberships by clicking the “About Memberships” link in the menu at the top of the page.

Sign Up for Free Information

You can sign up to receive information from us by clicking on this link and following the instructions: https://yourlegallegup.com/blog/sign-up-for-free-information/

What you’ll receive if you sign up is a series of several videos and articles spread out over several days, and then you will occasionally hear from us as we add information to the site. We don’t always announce that information, though.

What you will not receive is any marketing from other people – or much from us, either. Our goal is to make the site more useful to members and visitors, not to swamp anyone with sales materials. The information we send will have links to information or products that we think may be helpful.

 

 

Being Sued for Debt

Being Sued for Debt

If you’re already being sued for debt – that is, they’ve filed suit against you and served you (or you have found out in some other way) – you have an immediate decision to make. You could give up and let them get a judgment and take your money if they can find it. Or you could defend yourself.

It makes all the sense in the world to defend yourself.

You may think that lawyers wouldn’t file a law suit if they didn’t have the evidence to prove it, and in most kinds of cases that would be correct. Lawyers don’t want to waste their time on bad lawsuits. But in debt law it’s different. In debt law, the debt collectors take hundreds of alleged debts and file suit in all of them (if they want to) without ever looking to see whether they have any evidence that’s any good. They do that – and you might even say the HAVE to do that – because they know that almost all of the people they manage to get served with the lawsuit will give up. When you never have to fight to win, making sure you could win the suit is a waste of time. So they don’t.

As a matter of fact, you have an excellent chance of winning if you fight the debt collectors, and you can do that in one of two ways. You can either hire a lawyer or represent yourself (this is called “pro se” representation).

Going “Pro Se”

While I have always considered hiring a lawyer who understands debt law and will be aggressively on your side as the best way to defend yourself if you can afford it, there are two problems with it. First, it is almost always pretty expensive, and it can be very expensive sometimes, And secondly, it can be difficult to find the right lawyer – and it isn’t always easy to tell who is the wrong lawyer.

It can make sense to represent yourself. This type of law is not extremely complicated, and the debt collectors are often lazy or simply do not have and cannot get what they need, to beat you. If you want to take this route, then I suggest that you get one of our memberships. That will give you information and backing you can use all the way through your defense.

Hiring a Lawyer

I have always considered hiring a lawyer who knows debt law as the best option when you’re sued for debt if you can afford it. As I mention above, the challenge can be finding a lawyer who is experienced in debt law defense and who is not too expensive. I believe I have found a good option for that – a prepaid legal plan specializing in debt defense. If you think you would like to hear about this plan, check out our information on prepaid law.

Discovery – Starting to Win your Case

It is not necessary to begin discovery at the time you file your Answer and Counterclaim, but if it is at all possible for you to do, it gives you a big advantage.

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Push or Be Pushed – Get that Discovery Started

In the law, it is push or be pushed. That is, if you aren’t already pushing the debt collector to give you discovery or respond to motions, chances are good that they will be giving you things to do. When you’re pushing them, your chances of winning go way up. When they’re pushing you, they go down.

You might not think it would have to be that way. There’s usually plenty of time given to do everything that needs to be done and that the law expects both sides to do things at basically the same time. But theory aside, the reality is that people – lawyers included – will usually do what is pressing them first. And then they may – or may not – do the rest of what they should do.

People in general, and lawyers especially, make sure they’re pretty close to being as busy as they can be. And this inevitably means that choices will have to be made when and if things get tighter. If you push the debt collectors to answer your discovery, in other words, they very well may choose to skip discovery on you. If you skip discovery on them, you will soon discovery they have plenty enough time to keep you busy. That’s just the way things work.

So if you’re in a case where they’ve already served discovery on you, you’re going to have to do double duty – make sure you serve your discovery on them before you give them your answers. If you don’t, the next thing you know they’ll be filing a motion for summary judgment against you.

Better yet, make sure you are first out the discovery gate – and then keep tightening the screws. Serve discovery on them along with your Answer. This requires you to be prepared for your case pretty quickly, but it will pay off in a big way down the line.