People often ask me why this phrase is heard so often when they watch law shows on TV or see movies focused on the law. They then ask me “What’s the difference between the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Aren’t they all the same?”
There are important differences, both in the law and in life, and for everyone who comes to see us at Steidl and Steinberg, we want to make certain they tell us all three. Why? It is because we are your attorneys, and we are telling the Court that the answers that you have given us are accurate. The Court expects nothing less from you, and we expect nothing less from you. The Court also expect nothing less from us, your attorneys.
If we put information in your papers or allow you to say things that we know are wrong, we can be disbarred.
Let’s look at an example of the differences between the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Suppose a bankruptcy client tells us that they own a house in Erie, and the house is worth $95,000 with a mortgage of $70,000. That is the truth, he says. But he doesn’t tell us he also owns a house in Sarasota, Florida, worth $250,000? In this case, he has told us the truth, but not the whole truth. Same client, same houses. He tells us about the Erie house and the Sarasota house, and falsely says that the Sarasota house is encumbered by a $275,000 mortgage. In this case, he has told us the truth and the whole truth, but he has lied about the mortgage, so he failed to tell us “nothing but the truth”.
There are important distinctions, and ones that can get our bankruptcy clients in trouble and us, your attorneys, as well. We are here to help and virtually everyone who files a bankruptcy petition with us keeps everything they have unless they choose to give up something voluntarily. Most importantly, we know before you file any bankruptcy papers if there is any risk at all to anything you own. We see ourselves as partners with our clients. Our clients have a goal, our job at Steidl and Steinberg is to get you there.
The best way for us to get you there is for you to tell us everything when preparing your bankruptcy case. What we don’t know can hurt you, and that’s the truth.