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Attorneys Divided on Liability for Pro Bono Work Post-BAPCPA Say Most Respondents in Latest ABI Poll

Contact: John Hartgen
             (703) 739-0800 
             [email protected]



December 11, 2006, Alexandria, Va. — The results of a recent American Bankruptcy Institute online poll showed that respondents were nearly polarized over the question of whether an attorney performing work on a pro bono basis is exposed to liability under the new bankruptcy law. Twenty-six percent “agreed strongly,” while 33 percent “disagreed strongly” that pro bono work does not expose an attorney to liability under the new law because the new statute says that services must be performed for valuable consideration.

An additional 13 percent of respondents “disagreed somewhat” that an attorney’s pro bono work cannot expose them to liability under BAPCPA because the statute says that services must be performed for valuable consideration, while 18 percent “somewhat agreed.” Eleven percent of the respondents did not know or had no opinion on the issue.

At ABI’s recent program on the one-year anniversary of the new law, Donald F. Walton, Acting Deputy Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees (EOUST), said his office would not bring any actions against attorneys who are operating pro bono. EOUST interprets the “debt relief agency” provisions to apply to those who have accepted money or other valuable considerations.

ABI membership and members of the public were welcome to submit their response to the statement: “An attorney’s work performed pro bono cannot expose them to liability under BAPCPA because the statute says services must be performed for valuable consideration. The latest ABI Quick Poll was open to the public for voting from Nov. 30-Dec. 7.

ABI’s weekly Quick Poll is posted on ABI’s home page, ABI members and the public are invited to respond to a question on a timely bankruptcy or insolvency issue. Visit to access the results of previous ABI Quick Polls.


ABI is the largest multi-disciplinary, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency. ABI was founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues. The ABI membership includes more than 11,500 attorneys, accountants, bankers, judges, professors, lenders, turnaround specialists and other bankruptcy professionals, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. For additional information on ABI, visit For additional conference information, visit