Launching today is NextChapter, a cloud platform for bankruptcy attorneys designed to help them prepare, manage and electronically file bankruptcy cases. Its founder says it is like TurboTax for bankruptcy cases, in that it uses guided forms to help attorneys move through the preparation of bankruptcy documents.
It is the first true cloud-based bankruptcy platform for legal professionals that works on all desktop and mobile devices, the company’s founder says. Another bankruptcy platform, CINcompass, is accessed through the cloud, but because it is built using Microsoft Silverlight, it can be accessed only on Windows-based tablets, not on iOS or Android devices.
It is also offering a unique pricing model. Users pay only when they file a case. There is no charge to start using the site to create petitions or load client information. Only when you actually file the case do you pay a fee of $59.
More frequent users can opt for one of two monthly subscription plans. For $149 a month, you get up to 24 filings, and for $699 a month, you get unlimited filings.
Attorneys handling bankruptcy cases pro bono for low-income clients can use the service for free. It is part of the company’s “1-1-1 Promise” to donate one percent of its time, product and equity to needy causes.
Attorneys who sign up with NextChapter get a dashboard that gives an overview of their cases. From the dashboard, you can see all the cases you’ve recently worked on and upcoming tasks and deadlines. The dashboard provides a default task list and document checklist to help you monitor your progress in cases. The dashboard also tracks fees and payments.
The platform includes unlimited storage for client documents that you upload, such as pay stubs, tax forms, credit reports and the like. Uploaded documents can be previewed though the platform or downloaded.
Guided forms walk users through preparation of filings and eliminate double or triple data entry. The application is designed so that you input only the information that is necessary for the particular type of case. As you prepare a petition, you can preview it in PDF form at any time.
One important feature that is not yet operational is electronic CM/ECF filing. That will be in place within 60 days, by June 15, the company says. In the interim, attorneys can use the site to prepare petitions to file after June 15 or they can download the petitions they prepare and file them manually.
Also due to be added later this year is integrated management of CM/ECF notifications. That will allow users to receive and manage these notifications through the site.
Other enhancements planned for down the road include virtual paralegal support, data migration, and the ability for clients to scan documents directly to the platform.
NextChapter was founded by Janine Sickmeyer, who worked for 10 years as a paralegal handling bankruptcy cases for both creditors and debtors. The company’s chief technology officer, Matthew Boston, is a web developer who has built applications for healthcare, e-commerce, e-learning and business processes.
If the NextChapter name sounds familiar, that is because its prototype website had been up for some time and its founder, who some readers may also know by her maiden name of Janine Holsinger, has been working to develop the platform for some two years. Some attorneys have already been using the platform and providing helpful advice, Sickmeyer said, and several hundred have already signed up for the full launch.