Do you need an attorney to enforce your judgment?
The real challenge begins after you have a judgment because most judgment debtors are unwilling to voluntarily pay or simply cannot pay. You do not have to hire an attorney to enforce your judgment. (Most attorneys do not know how to enforce a judgment.) But if you plan to enforce the judgment yourself, how will you get paid? What rules and laws must you follow to enforce the judgment? How will you locate the judgment debtor? How will you locate employment information to file a garnishment or assets that can be seized and sold to pay the judgment? What forms or documents must you complete and submit to the court for post- judgment orders? Who will serve the orders? What additional documents must be served with the orders? What will you do if the judgment debtor challenges a garnishment and requests a hearing? How will you enforce the orders if they are not complied with? With no guarantee that you will receive a single penny, do you really want to spend the time and money necessary to figure out how to enforce the judgment?
Why Kirk Law?
Enforcing judgments is an art that very few attorneys and collection agencies have truly mastered. Attorney Jonathan Kirk started enforcing judgments in 2005. With hundreds of clients, thousands of judgments, and millions of dollars collected, our record supports our motto: “If we can’t collect it, no one can.” Unlike other attorneys, nearly 95% of my focus is enforcing judgments. You probably cannot find another attorney or collection agency that has invested in and subscribes to as many tools as I have to identify where a judgment debtor works, where they bank, and what assets they have (like cars, boats, homes, etc.). And you probably cannot find another attorney or collection agency that has the know-how, experience, tenacity, and creative drive as I have to pursue leads and clues to find hidden or unknown assets. Judgments are valid for 8 years. I don’t stop trying to enforce a judgment until I collect the judgment or the judgment debtor dies or files bankruptcy. I will maximize your chance of getting paid.
How much does Kirk Law charge for judgment enforcement?
Kirk Law offers three options:
- Pure Contingency: This option will cost you nothing out of pocket. More than 90% of our clients choose this option. Regardless of what happens, I will never invoice you for the costs of enforcing the judgment. I pay for all post-judgment costs of collection, including garnishment filing fees, garnishment serve fees, etc. And if a judgment debtor quits their job or files bankruptcy after I have paid the costs, I takes the loss—not you. To offset my risk, I keep 40% of the collected judgment principal and post-judgment interest, and then I send you the remaining 60%. For example, if I collect $250 this month, next month you will receive a check for $150. If I collect $1,000, you will receive $600.
- Hourly Retainer: This option requires you to pay all enforcement costs, including post-judgment court filing fees, constable service fees, and attorney’s fees. My regular hourly rate is $250.00. Each judgment placed with me under this option requires a prepaid $2,500 refundable retainer from which I will deduct the above costs, regardless of the results. I will send you 100% of what I collect. Once the deposit is gone, you must replenish the refundable retainer before I will resume collection efforts.
- Hybrid Contingency / Hourly Retainer: This option is often selected by clients with judgments over $100,000. Under this option, you pay all enforcement costs, including post-judgment court filing fees, constable service fees, and 50% of my attorney’s fees (or $125 per hour, instead of $250). Each judgment placed with Kirk Law under this option requires a prepaid $2,500 refundable retainer from which I will deduct the above costs, regardless of the results. Once the deposit is gone, you must replenish the refundable retainer before I will resume collection efforts. Any monies collected are first applied to costs, then I will send you 80% of what I collect.
What is the likelihood that you will get paid?
This is the most often asked question. There is no guarantee that you will be paid. You probably obtained a judgment against the debtor because they couldn’t pay you. It is difficult or even impossible to accurately predict whether you will be paid. If a judgment debtor has the ability to pay, they could file bankruptcy, pass away, become disabled, or permanently move out of the country. A debtor may have a good-paying job, but may be subject to an on-going garnishment for child support, which takes priority over all other
garnishments and can last several years, preventing you from garnishing their wages.
Under federal and state laws, some assets are off limits. For example, you cannot garnish social security or veteran’s payments or federal tax returns. And part-time wages that fall below a certain amount cannot be garnished. Under state law, a judgment debtor can claim a $3,500 exemption on a vehicle and a $30,000 exemption on a home. Perhaps a judgment debtor may be on welfare or even homeless, with no job, no car, no bank account, and no conceivable way to pay. This is often the case with consumers and owners of failed businesses. This is the perfect scenario to select the pure contingency judgment enforcement option. Remember that judgments are valid for 8 years, and they are renewable. Usually, a debtor’s circumstances change for the better in 8 years. For example, they may go back to school and re-enter the workforce. They may get a new job, marry into money, receive an inheritance, or win the lottery. You just never know.