5 Topics in 5 Minutes


Updated: Friday, February 21, 2020

by Mark Groves, President

NCBA members help consumers understand and work toward a fair resolution to resolve debt.

1. How was your firm’s 2019 – poor, fair, good, great?

In interviews with a large number of you over the past few months, 91% answered that 2019 was a great year for your firm. Why was the year great? The leading reasons cited were a) the economy and full employment; b) steady new client and business referrals; and c) moderating regulatory uncertainty. The leading reasons cited by the 9% of respondents who reported a good year were: a) fewer foreclosure and bankruptcy referrals; b) meritless FDCPA litigation; and c) higher costs of compliance, insurance, technology, and staff.

2. NCBA means business

75% of NCBA members report having received new business referrals from a fellow NCBA member. If you want to maximize your firm’s visibility with your peers, make sure your firm’s listing(s) is/are up to date in the member directory. Make plans to attend the Spring 2020 Atlanta conference. Join a committee or task force and volunteer for NCBA. These small action steps will help you increase business opportunities in 2020 and beyond.

3. February’s topic and poll – Bench Warrants, Civil Capias, Body Attachments

You probably have seen stories on “Debtors' Prisons” that report on the practice of bench warrants aka capias. Even though debtor prisons were abolished in the United States in 1833, modern media accounts about the practice rarely examine how and when they arise (and how rare such proceedings are used). Many of these stories reflect a misunderstanding of the law and our role as creditor attorneys in the process. In fact:

  • Not a single consumer today is jailed for failure to pay a debt.
  • Creditors have no ability or authority to request or issue an arrest warrant because a debt is unpaid.
  • Only a judge can order bench warrants and that will only occur in response to a complete and utter disregard for a court’s prior orders, summonses, or subpoenas.
  • A great number of clients specifically and expressly direct NCBA attorneys to avoid taking action that would risk arrest as an outcome.


1. In the last year, have your firm’s attorneys used statutory remedies or court rules that have resulted in a bench warrant?

2. Would you support a NCBA resolution that NCBA members will not request a court to issue a bench warrant, capias, or body attachment in a consumer debt action that would result in a consumer being arrested?

Take the poll

Note: The results will be announced in my March column. All responses are anonymous.

4. Why I love being a consumer debt resolution attorney?

Like many of you, each month, our firm’s collections department holds a floor meeting at our office attended by attorneys, managers, and staff. We go over key points and reward excellence (and eat!). Invariably, the highlight of our meeting is our reading and recognition of the compliments we have received the prior month from consumers, attorneys, court clerks, judges, and clients. The most rewarding of these are always those from consumer debtors that tell a story of how we listened to and empathized with them, and how we arrived at a solution that brought relief and satisfaction to the consumer.

Here are two “debtor declarations” from recent meetings at our office:

“I wanted to thank the entire call center for your understanding and willingness to help. I feel as though every representative I've spoken with has been generous and I really appreciate you working with me. After losing my husband during active duty last year and battling breast cancer myself, I went through a hard time and appreciate you all for your compassion and eagerness to help.”

“I appreciate all you did to help me resolve this situation that would leave me in a better financial position. You had no incentive or reason to help me and you did anyway; you have no idea how appreciative I am of that. We often forget that we are all humans and that a turn of events could easily change our entire life, so I very much appreciate all that you have done taking this into account while still representing the best interest of your client. I wish all the best to you and I am certain this will come back to you, even the simplest of good deeds do.”

As Dr. Seuss famously said, “[t]o the world you may be one person. But to one person you may be the world.” I am confident that your firms are also receiving, logging, and rewarding similar shout outs.

Please share your firm’s story and how you incentivize and reward 5-star service by sending a short email to me at [email protected].

5. First impressions – powerful introductions fuel favorable feelings

Researchers have concluded that we only have 7 seconds to make a first impression. As creditors rights attorneys, how do we introduce ourselves (including what we do for a living) to our friends, neighbors, and local legislators? Is it interesting? Is it relevant? What problems do we solve and what value do we add? How do we make a difference?

Here are three possibilities:

  1. Hello, my name is __.  I am an attorney in consumer debt resolution and my passion is to facilitate fair and transparent processes to enable consumers to understand and resolve debt.
  2. Hello my name is __.  I am an attorney engaged in creditor rights law and I have committed my practice to helping consumers get through the stress of past due debts through compliant, professional, and courteous methods.
  3. Hello my name is __.   I am an attorney practicing debtor-creditor relations and I believe in helping consumers work through past-due debt issues while helping lenders do the right thing even when a customer has failed to repay money loaned.

Which, if any, do you like?  Please vote here. Do you have a suggestion on making a great introduction?  Please email me at [email protected].