Access to Consumer Bankruptcy

24 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2018 Last revised: 8 Nov 2018

See all articles by Pamela Foohey

Pamela Foohey

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: June 14, 2018


This essay examines the state of access to justice in the context of consumer bankruptcy from two vantage points: (1) how people decide that their money problems are legal problems addressable by filing bankruptcy; and (2) the barriers people face in using the consumer bankruptcy system. To shed new light on how people decide to use bankruptcy to address their financial troubles, I analyze a sample of narratives accompanying consumers' complaints about financial products and services submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I also chronicle the evolution of research regarding consumer bankruptcy’s “local legal culture,” systemic racial bias, and the link between attorneys’ fees and bankruptcy chapter choice. The essay ends by outlining key questions for future research about how individuals translate their financial problems to legal problems addressable by filing bankruptcy, and by calling on bankruptcy attorneys, judges, and trustees to ensure that the system itself does not compound the financial problems people face outside of bankruptcy.

Keywords: Consumer Bankruptcy, Access To Justice, Consumer Credit, Debt, CFPB, Consumer Complaints, Attorneys' Fees, Debt Collection, Consumer Law, Consumer Protection

JEL Classification: D10, K35, K36

Suggested Citation

Foohey, Pamela, Access to Consumer Bankruptcy (June 14, 2018). 34 Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal 341 (2018), Available at SSRN:

Pamela Foohey (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
812-855-1257 (Phone)

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