A large percentage of the clients that seek services from MLSA each year have some sort of consumer related issue. Of our clients with consumer issues, many of them are asking for assistance with filing for bankruptcy. What we experience at MLSA is similar to what Rural Dynamics Inc reported in their recent blog entry. MLSA clients who want assistance with filing for bankruptcy cannot be lumped into the category of those who buy lavish items and live outside their means. On the contrary, many of MLSA’s clients have experienced a life changing event that has propelled them into debt, making bankruptcy their only option to regain some security in their lives.Take Mary, for example. Mary held a job as a teacher until cuts were made to the school district where she worked. When she was laid off, Mary sought out other ways in which to earn an income. Within a few short months, Mary was working four jobs in an attempt to make ends meet. Even with income from four jobs, Mary was unable to pay all her bills. Like many of our clients, she was doing all she could to be responsible. She just happened to be a victim of the poor economic times. In the end, it was too much and she came to MLSA in desperate need of assistance. MLSA was successful in aiding Mary with filing for bankruptcy and gaining back some semblance of security within her life.Many similar stories can be found within MLSA. In fact, in 2010, MLSA closed over 630 bankruptcy cases, providing everything from advice and document reviews to full representation. The need for bankruptcy services has grown steadily in recent years. Despite valiant efforts, MLSA was unable to meet the increasing demand for bankruptcy services under its former service delivery model, and simply could not provide help to a large number of clients like Mary, who were in desperate need of assistance. Upon realizing the growing need for access to bankruptcy services, the MLSA Consumer Law Unit began exploring alternative ways in which MLSA could provide bankruptcy resources and increase the availability of services to a greater number of low-income Montanans. In an upcoming post, MLSA will unveil the new strategies and resources developed to increase access to bankruptcy resources for low-income Montanans.