Help In Filing For Bankruptcy

With pal Yoshi at the office. Amanda C. Gregg photos

Charley Foster
Attorney, Hempey & Meyers

Tell us about your work, and what you do.

I’m a lawyer. I help people pick their way through the minefield that is the American legal system. Specifically, I’m building a bankruptcy practice at Hempey & Meyers LLP, where I’ve worked as an associate since July.

How did you get started in this business and how long has it been going?

I started taking bankruptcy cases in 2004, the year before Congress passed the bankruptcy reform act, making it more difficult for people to file bankruptcy. Credit card company lobbyists and lawyers were largely behind the move to change the law, and everyone knew the point was to make it harder for people to get bankruptcy relief. So there was a huge surge in bankruptcy filings. I started working with an established bankruptcy firm (in Utah) and we cranked out bankruptcies for people who needed to file before the new act went into effect.

Where are you from originally, and what role does that play in your business?

I’m originally from Oklahoma. When I was growing up there, the economy was based mostly on the oil industry. It was very “boom or bust.” Economic life was riskier than normal.

Charley Foster practices bankruptcy law with Hempey & Meyers

Say you bought a house or opened up a store, if oil prices fell – and they often did – you could find yourself upside down in your mortgage or with a shop full of merchandise and no buyers. I learned growing up that there’s no shame in having a business fail or hitting on hard times. Personal economic setbacks were very much a part of life.

The role that plays in my business is I believe in bankruptcy as providing a fresh start for the honest-but-unfortunate debtor.

Many of us want people to be entrepreneurs, to start businesses, to create jobs for the economy, to buy homes and cars. But there’s a lot of risk in all that, and not just economic risk. People have medical emergencies. People divorce. Such things can be financially devastating. Without bankruptcy relief, a person might never recover financially from a blow like that.

I specialize in consumer bankruptcy. People might be familiar with the terms “chapter 7” and “chapter 13” bankruptcy. I help people get back on their feet after they find themselves under a mountain of debt.

What is your educational background?

I have a degree in business finance from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. I got my law degree at the University of Utah.

What sets your work apart?

My first work in bankruptcy was spent meeting this huge demand occasioned by the impending change in the law.

Now I spend a lot of time with people who come to me with financial problems to help them determine the best course of action and give them information so that they can make informed decisions about whether to file bankruptcy or not.

And, if not, to discuss other choices they have. Many times bankruptcy isn’t the answer, and I help people understand the ramifications of various choices they face in dealing with their financial situations.

Set apart from my earlier work with a bankruptcy firm, my work now is taking a lot more time understanding a client’s financial situation and giving them legal advice and helping them make hard choices.

Why do you do what you do?

I love law. Maybe this is sad, but when I’m not working I read court decisions and news about cases, and books with legal subjects. And when I’m not reading about law, I’m blogging about it on a couple of blogs (see Kauaibankruptcy.net). I’m sort of an addict in that respect.

What is your business plan for the future?

Hempey & Meyers LLP is widely recognized as top notch in the areas of civil rights, family law and criminal defense. My goal is to have the firm also be recognized and regarded as the go-to firm for excellent advice and service for people and small businesses facing financial difficulties.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

If I weren’t practicing law I would doubtless be writing about law, which I guess I do anyway on my blogs. I do what I love, and I wouldn’t do anything differently.

Where can people learn more?

We are located at: 3175 Elua St., Suite C, in Lihu’e. Our phone is 632-2444, and email is: charley@hempeymeyers.com.

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