KEITH WELCH: I joined Simon, Fitzgerald, Cooke, Reed and Welch in 1977 and have practiced bankruptcy law for over 30 years now. One of my partners, Paul Cooke, was with the firm when I joined. Paul and I are the older attorneys now.

[GRAPHIC: Book and glasses]

KEITH WELCH: Our mentor and senior partner, Archie Simon, was one of the premiere bankruptcy attorneys in Louisiana.

[GRAPHIC: Simon, Fitzgerald, Cooke, Reed & Welch Attorneys at Law]

KEITH WELCH: Simon, Fitzgerald has been involved in the practice in bankruptcy law for well over 50 years ad we trace the original firm back to 1907.

Over the years we've handled all types of bankruptcy matters. We have represented debtors, creditors and trustees in bankruptcy. However, since 1999, we have primarily represented individuals and small businesses in Chapter 13 and Chapter 7.

A lot has changed over the last 50 years. Most households now rely on two incomes. Credit is a vital part of everyday life. Far too many of us are living payday to payday. Even the slightest disruption in income or an unexpected expense can result in major financial problems.

The most common type of bankruptcy in Louisiana is Chapter 13. It provides immediate relief to most people. A Chapter 13 may allow the individual to modify or lower payments on vehicles, catch up on house mortgage payments and pay only that portion of unsecured debts that the individual can afford. The remainder of the debt is usually discharged.

In Chapter 13, you are not required to pay the attorney fees upfront. The fees are included in the Chapter 13 plan. Court costs are normally paid prior to filing, but can be paid in installments if needed.

We now have offices in five major cities throughout Louisiana with eight experienced bankruptcy attorneys and more than 20 paralegals, plus additional support staff.

I know that I speak for all of the attorneys and staff when I tell you that we love what we do. There's a real sense of helping people. Almost without exception, the relief we bring to our clients is significant when we explain their options under Chapter 13 and Chapter 7.

We don't underestimate the difficulty people have in making the decision to call us. The initial consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys is free and confidential. It costs nothing to talk with us. You will be treated with respect. We will provide you with options to help solve your financial problems. Call us.

*We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.