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Contribution to Bar Association High School Financial Literacy Program

Members of Updike, Kelly & Spellacy’s Creditor’s Rights Practice Group recently contributed to the Financial Literacy Program, organized and sponsored by the Connecticut Bar Association’s Commercial Law & Bankruptcy Section. The M. Ellen Carpenter Financial Literacy Program was originally designed and produced by the Boston Bar Association and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts and has now been “imported” to Connecticut.

Working through its Public Outreach Subcommittee, the Section organized programs within the three Connecticut Bankruptcy Court Divisions, Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport. The Program involved two major components: Multiple-session presentations on financial literacy within one of the local high schools in the Division locale, where the attorney-presenters, including UKS’s Evan Goldstein, helped students at Bulkeley High School identify and understand the consequences of making large purchases, budgeting, financial-credit decisions, including the severe downside that comes with misuse and abuse of easily available high-interest credit. Subjects like managing money, the benefit and necessity of making and following prudent budgets, proper use of bank accounts, debit cards, credit cards and the overall negative and potentially life-long consequences of bad credit decisions were covered in four separate presentations at the respective high schools. Working with school endorsement and teacher advisors, groups of 25 or more students learned life lessons on the consequences of good and bad credit decisions.

The four in-school lessons were followed by a unique in-court session, eagerly accommodated and participated in by the three Court Division Bankruptcy Judges. UKS’s Tom Gugliotti participated in the Hartford Division court room session, overseen by Hartford Bankruptcy Judge James Tancredi. This “culmination session” was held within the actual Courtroom, presided over by the Division Judge. At this session, several Section attorneys presented a mock “First Meeting of Creditors,” where the students of Bulkley High School observed how the so-called “341 Meeting of Creditors” typically takes place at the very beginning of a bankruptcy proceeding. That session was then followed by a mock hearing on a Motion for Relief from Stay, presided over by Judge Tancredi. From these two court room scenarios, students observed firsthand some of the “consequences” of bad financial decisions.

Attorneys Goldstein and Gugliotti look forward to next year’s offering on “Financial Literacy.”