Jim Shepherd knows the havoc that debt can wreak on the lives of consumers and entrepreneurs: For more than 15 years as a private practitioner, Michigan bankruptcy judge clerk and provider of pro bono legal advisement, he’s seen firsthand how debtor status impedes people’s opportunities and holds them back from their true potential. In 2006, he became a U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney with the San Francisco Office of the United States Trustee, and in 2009, he went into practice for himself to represent consumers and business leaders from his El Cerrito office.
Mr. Shepherd received a cum laude law school degree from Indiana University in 1995. As a one-time Alaskan commercial fisherman and current resident of the East Bay with a wife and three young children, he remains just as passionate about the great outdoors as he is about advocating for debtors.
If you find yourself dealing with the unfortunate circumstances that lead you to contemplate bankruptcy, call James Shepherd. Just do it. Don't even shop around.
Let me start out by saying that I had the painful experience of dealing with a slimy lawyer who was clearly just out to make a buck or two (more like several thousand). I should have trusted my instincts and run screaming...the fancy office and cufflinks should have been a big clue. So it was with trepidation that I made the call to consult with Jim, who's name I found on the Nolo Press website.
I called his office...he answered. No receptionist, no canned messages telling me of his ``winning`` (read overpriced) services. No partners. No billable hours.
He talked to me for over an hour, listening carefully and expressing true compassion without trying to talk me into hiring him. He expressed his philosophy (which it turns out he really practices) and suggested I meet him in person to further discuss my case. He gave the instructions to bring pertinent documents and then scheduled an appointment.
I arrived at his office on time...he was coming back from a lunch break and was a little late, so I was a little nervous. But considering that he was carrying a brown paper bag I figured that it wasn't a power lunch...just a regular ol' lunch. He was genuinely apologetic, so my anxiety was eased (as much as it could be under the circumstances which led me there).
The minute I stepped into his modest office above the Dress Barn (why do they still insist on calling it that?) I felt at ease. He has a very small waiting area just a step or two away from his desk, and his walls are lined with the requisite law books. Very cozy.
I brought the documents he requested to start the conversation, and boy, what a conversation! He spent TWO HOURS with me, delving into the details of my case and providing a clear and concise explanation of my options. This was free of charge. He stated his fees at the time, a low fixed rate of $1500 plus filing fees for straightforward Chapter 7 cases, an hourly rate of $250 for litigation outside of the basic filing, and a retainer of $2000 for Chapter 13 cases.
He did some initial calculations to help advise me of my options, and suggested I mull them over and get back to him with my decision to move forward with the filing (or not). He put no pressure on me to hire him.
Needless to say, I hired him. And I'm very glad that I did. Not only did he facilitate my case ethically and professionally, he made himself available for my every question and addressed all of my concerns with diplomacy and compassion along the way. He continues to help me, even to this day. Though my debts have been discharged, there are lingering issues relating to my divorce (a major factor in my decision to file bankruptcy) and Jim has kindly availed himself to me, offering his expertise with generosity and alacrity.
It's with genuine gratitude that I recommend James Shepherd to anyone facing bankruptcy. If only ALL lawyers operated the same way...