For Struggling Consumers, a Cheaper Way to File for Bankruptcy

A nonprofit has developed an online program designed to help people prepare a chapter 7 filing without a lawyer.

Feature (NATIONAL)

Katy Stech Ferek
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
September 10, 2017

Tags: Bankruptcy, Consumer Protection

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services Corporation (LSC), Upsolve


The founders of Upsolve have created a TurboTax equivalent for bankruptcy designed to help people with basic financial problems—such as mounting medical or credit-card debt—pull together information for a chapter 7 filing without having to pay for a lawyer. The idea, says Rohan Pavuluri, a Harvard University student and one of Upsolve’s founders, is to “make one of the biggest safety nets in America more accessible.”

The online project, which won $75,000 in funding in a Harvard-sponsored competition in May, has left some consumer advocates wondering whether this free software could disrupt this sleepy sector of the legal industry. Upsolve’s program turns a person’s answers to a questionnaire into court documents that can be used to file for chapter 7 protection, a process that almost 500,000 consumers used last year to sell valuables and cancel unpaid debts.