Landmark Project: Simplifying Bankruptcy Forms to Clear the Fog

Bankruptcy is a federal court process to help consumers and businesses eliminate their debts or repay them under the protection of the court. Complex forms and notices are the backbone of the system. They help the court gather information from debtors and help debtors create a realistic picture of their financial status.

For this ground-breaking project, we revamped the entire network of forms for the entire federal system. Using a conversational approach, we collaborated with members of the judicial system to create drafts of new forms and instructions. We defined technical terms, gave information where people need it, simplified users’ tasks, and streamlined the flow of paperwork.

According to a recent comment from the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, “The NCBJ applauds and endorses the revisions to the forms. The revised forms are far more ’user friendly’ than their predecessors. They are readable, easy to fill out, and easy to understand. Considerable effort plainly went into the revisions, and the effort was successful. The revised forms represent a significant improvement.”

Now publicly available, these forms have changed the landscape of bankruptcy across the country.

Before

Before Bankruptcy Form

After

After Bankruptcy Form

Winner of the 2016 ABC/APCC Award for Excellence in Communication Consulting

2016 ClearMark Award Winner for Long Legal Documents from the Center for Plain Language