On August 31 of last year venerable Raleigh bankruptcy attorney Trawick “Buzzy” Stubbs celebrated his 80th birthday, retired and began to wind down Stubbs & Perdue. The next day, alums Laurie Biggs and Dana Stott opened the Biggs Law Firm.
The timing may have been fortuitous. Biggs handles all bankruptcy chapters for businesses, farms and consumers. Stott’s practice includes family law and other civil law matters. If a recession comes to pass in 2023, Biggs said it would trigger more bankruptcies and new family law cases.
Biggs said she embraces the challenge of rescuing a business that has filed for Chapter 11. “I like to take the chaos of everything and put all the puzzle pieces together to figure out why it’s not working, and take it apart and put it back together. People are really good at things like sales or designing a product or building a house but have no idea what running a business entails.”
Biggs said some bankruptcy clients arrive in her office in full-scale panic, having identified problems they think will force their business to close.
“We get down into the weeds with them as opposed to just saying, ‘Here, fill this out,” Biggs explained. “I’m not going to take everything they say at face value and not do any of my own analysis. It’s always such an emotional and traumatic time. I break down the analysis with them and inform them where they’re at in their case, so they feel like they’re part of that process.”
To that end, Biggs sometimes views herself as a business consultant.
“I like to think that I am just a problem solver; whatever the problem is, we’ll figure it out,” said Biggs. “If a client doesn’t have a good accountant, we’ll recommend one. We’ll make sure they’re filing their tax forms. Then, I will go back to basics with them. Take their bank statements and analyze what’s coming in and going out.”
The surge in family law matters that began during the pandemic has continued unabated and spawned relatively new third-party custody cases, according to Stott. “We’re seeing more grandparents filing for custody of their grandchildren because their children are unfit as parents or trying to get visitation where they couldn’t before. This area of the law is still developing and hopefully we’ll get some clarity in this area in the next few years.”
Money continues to be the triggering factor in many divorce cases.
“What we’ve seen a lot lately is one partner doesn’t know what the other partner has done with the family’s money,” said Stott, adding this can be at the root of both family law and bankruptcy cases.
“I’m surprised at how many people still come in, and don’t have a good handle on how much they actually owe, either in their business or personal lives,” said Biggs. “Sometimes we have to talk through it all to unravel what is really out there to decide where to go next.”
Biggest & Best
Biggs Law is in the same building where Stubbs & Perdue was located. It also kept most of the former firm’s New Bern office staff intact and still maintains an office in New Bern. But while a lot of the work is now done virtually, “we do try and meet with our clients in person because I think first and foremost letting them know that we care about them and their families is priority No. 1,” said Stott.
“With the recession, as bankruptcy cases go up, I think we’re going to be looking to hire several bankruptcy lawyers. And if the domestic cases don’t decline, we may have to hire some more staff and maybe some more lawyers,” said Biggs. “I always say I want to be the biggest and the best bankruptcy firm in North Carolina, which means we need to grow and expand.”