My name is Thomas Ford. I’m writing this blog as a lawyer, but as I write it I realize I’m more than that. I’m also a husband, a father, and an Aggie. I’ve been a husband since 2005; Elise and I just celebrated our 10-year anniversary. I’ve been a father since 2008, when Will was born. We were blessed with Lainey in 2011 and Lyla in 2013.
I’ve been an Aggie since I was a young child. When I was five, my mom and dad left good stable jobs, sold their house, motorcycles, cars, and most of their possessions. They bought a Volkswagen Rabbit and we moved to College Station, Texas so my dad could get an electrical engineering degree at Texas A&M. He did it in three years. I took a lot longer than that to get my undergraduate degree from Texas A&M. I would have a law degree from there if such a thing had existed back in the day. We raise ’em right; even my two year old can sing the War Hymn.
But, that’s not why I’m writing this first blog post. I’m doing this because I’m a lawyer. I’ve made a career out of helping people fix their debt problems. Often that means bankruptcy. But that isn’t all it is. Sometimes it means defending a lawsuit, or getting a debt settled, or getting a mortgage modified, or helping someone with a money management system.
How did I get here? I had no intent to be a bankruptcy lawyer coming out of SMU law school in 2001. Back then, had you asked me “what kind of law do you want to practice?”, my standard answer was “I don’t know for sure, but I do know it won’t be criminal or bankruptcy law”.
That was the summer of 2001. I took the bar exam in the summer and waited for the results to come out in October. If you didn’t know, the “bar exam” is a test that you must pass to become a licensed attorney in Texas. You can’t be a lawyer without passing the bar exam. Between taking the test and getting the results, 9/11 happened. I passed the bar, but jobs were hard to come by after that, so I joined up with a friend-of-a-friend established lawyer to dabble in a few things.
One of those things turned out to be bankruptcy. And, I learned that bankruptcy wasn’t just people dodging responsibility. Bankruptcy changed lives. I’m talking about a positive impact on lives that could use some positive impact. Lives damaged by unemployment, divorce, or illness. Lives that need a second chance to get it right. When I began to realize that bankruptcy could help get lives back on track, I was hooked.
Bankruptcy is a tough business to learn one case at a time. Filing a bankruptcy is Dallas is a lot different than filing a bankruptcy in Fort Worth. Both are a lot different than filing a bankruptcy in Plano. So, I took jobs at large-volume bankruptcy law firms from 2004-2008. Although the pay is usually low, there is nothing like it for getting experience. You can learn a lot about bankruptcy filing 500+ bankruptcies a year.
You can also get a lot of burnout. I decided to slow it down and strike out on my own. I’ve been a solo practitioner since 2008. I started out with an office and a receptionist. I don’t want a call center. I don’t want an office with paralegals giving out bad legal advice and making mistakes. I don’t want an office with my name on the door, yet my clients never meet me. I don’t want you to reach a different person every time you contact the firm.
I started with the same basic principle I stick with today; don’t take more clients than I can personally handle. Who does the initial consultation? Me. Who gathers information from you and prepares the paperwork? Me. Who goes to the meetings with you? Me. I do it all.
Of course, there’s a limited number of me to go around. So, I limit the number of cases I take each month. Never more than 15; a lot less during Aggie Football season!
Through the miracle of technology, I’ve evolved to where I do most of my work out of my house in Trophy Club, Texas. I don’t even maintain a regular office anymore. I have office locations were we can meet, but technology allows us to do most of the work using the internet, a fax number, and an email address.
I try to keep things simple. I try to do things right. I try to give each and every client the respect they deserve, no matter what their situation.
That’s enough about me for now. We’ll talk more later.