Even in a booming economy, not every venture turns its promoters into Internet instantaires. There' s still a down side to capitalism. And smart bankruptcy lawyers looking to save their clients' assets, would do well to turn to the Web.
While the Dow Jones Industrial Average flirts with new records every month, it' s sobering to consider that according to statistics found at the American Bankruptcy Institute' s Web site (http://www.abiworld.org/stats/newstatsfront.html) there were 361,205 total bankruptcy filings in the United States for the first three quarters of 1998. This includes personal and business bankruptcy filings, and the bulk of the filings are personal (350,859 in fact). The state of California leads with more 50,000 bankruptcies per quarter in 1998. In the teeth of immense and seemingly unstoppable bull market, capitalism is still claiming some victims.
Of all of the courts in the federal judicial branch, the bankruptcy courts have some of the most accessible information and links. Many of these courts are making their decisions through their Web sites. Pleadings, notices of filings, statistics, directories, and dictionaries populate the Web sites for those who want to visit bankruptcy-ville.
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts' Federal Judiciary Home Page provides an overall link to information about the operation of the federal courts. The " Links" icon takes the researcher to a set of links to the active Web sites of the federal district courts and their bankruptcy units (http://www.uscourts.gov/allinks.html). The links spring from a colorful map of the federal circuits in the United States. As a general rule, bankruptcy courts offer local rules, forms, PACER Access information and address information. However, this should not be considered a complete list of resources by any means, as bankruptcy decisions are not yet widely available on the Web pages of the individual bankruptcy sites.
The Federal Judiciary Home Page maintains annotations about the bankruptcy courts and their procedures. There are also helpful documents written primarily for a non-professional audience such as " Understanding the U.S. Courts." Unfortunately, the otherwise helpful documents lack links to other bankruptcy sources in the home page. The general Web architecture is suspect as well. For instance, " Bankruptcy Basics" at http://www.uscourts.gov/bankbasic.pdf leads the researcher away from any links back into the Web page.