Law Offices of J. Michael Combs

Firm Overview

I opened my office as a sole practitioner in 1989 after working several years as the bankruptcy attorney for Bart Durham. In 1990, I was appointed as a Chapter 7 Trustee and served as a Trustee for two years. I then resigned in order to concentrate on representing debtors in bankruptcy. I am board certified as a specialist in consumer bankruptcy law in August 1994, one of the first lawyers in Tennessee to achieve this certification.

The focus of this law firm is filing Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases on behalf of working people and small businesses in the middle Tennessee area.

Example cases

Received a call from a client one morning about 9:00 or 9:30. He indicated that a real estate agent just knocked on his door and indicated the house was to be sold at foreclosure sale at 2:00 that afternoon and she wanted to see the house prior to the sale. He had no notice of the sale and he panicked. He called me. "Can you stop the foreclosure", he asked? I said that I could if he could get enough information together and be in my office no later than noon. He and his wife were in at about 12:15. We had enough paperwork prepared by 1:00 to file with the bankruptcy court. It was filed, we called the foreclosure attorney, and the sale was stopped. As of, November 2010, these clients are still in Chapter 13 and their house is still theirs.

Main Office
700 Craighead Street
Suite 105
Nashville  TN  37204
  • (615) 255-7448
  • (615) 942-1895


Free Initial Consultation?
All initial consultations are free. There is no minimum length.
Services Offered For Fixed Fees?
Fees vary from case to case. Chapter 13 fees are established by a formula set by the court. Chapter 7 fees, for an average case, I charge between $700 and $900. Anyone reading this can mention Nolo and I will discount their fee by 10%.
Hourly Rates
Hourly rates are generally not relevant, but when charged are $300.

Office Information

Office Hours
Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Office Manager
Emergency After Hours

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

This is actually by accident. I was the employee of another lawyer. The attorney in the firm doing bankruptcy decided he did not want to do bankruptcy anymore. I was told on a Friday that I'd be the firm's new bankruptcy lawyer and I had to go to court the following Monday. I took the files home with me over the weekend, boned up on bankruptcy, and showed up in court that Monday. I discovered that I loved the practice of bankruptcy law and have been in it ever since.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

I think it is very important that clients be well informed. However, this can be dangerous. Information must come from reliable sources. I've posted a number of links to my website and have included a detailed FAQ on that website.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

Generally speaking, I'm willing to review documentation. I'm occasionally approached by clients that have prepared their own bankruptcy papers who wish me to review those papers. Sadly I cannot do this. This is because essentially the client is asking me to do the bankruptcy for them. That is what a review of such papers entails. Of course they don't want to pay for my services and I would typically have to charge for the services accordingly.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

Coaching clients to represent themselves is, once again, a dangerous thing. It is not unusual for the United States Trustee to appear at meetings of creditors where the client is representing themselves and ask the client specifically if he has any advice from any source or person. Thus I risk my name and reputation being dragged in to a situation of which I have no control.

J. Michael Combs

After graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Law, I worked for the law firm of Willis & Knight which represented plaintiffs in Civil Litigation and defendants in White Collar crime cases. After approximately a year with that firm, I moved to the firm (which, at that time had been the oldest law firm in Nashville) Goodpasture, Carpenter and Woods. My primary focus was insurance and defense work. After approximately a year with that firm, I then began work with the law office of Bar Durham and worked for Mr. Durham first in the field of domestic relations and then ultimately as the firm's Bankruptcy lawyer until 1989.

My clients for the most part are working class people. I come from that background. Neither of my parents were educated and they both worked at minimum wage their entire lives. While in college, I worked almost the entire time, including three summers working the graveyard shift at a local factory. After working for other lawyers, I decided to branch out and open my own law practice. While I was a good lawyer, I had a lot to learn about running a business. I have indeed learned a lot about running businesses and it allows me to advise those of my clients who run their own small businesses.

My primary strength is my experience. I've been doing bankruptcy law since 1982. I've been a Chapter 7 Trustee and I'm board certified. There is little that I have not seen. I rarely have to look up the answer to a question or consult with another attorney.

Personal interests:

My wife, Faye, and I love to travel. Sadly as a sole practitioner, I cannot get away from the office for lengthy periods of time. Our last big trip was in 1998 when we took a 12-day cruise around Italy to celebrate one of my wife's more important birthdays. I will not say which birthday. I also like to read, especially history and I am very fond of all animals but especially dogs. I have two dogs, a 13 year old cocker spaniel named Max and a 2 year old mixed breed rescue dog named Rocky.

  • Bar Number: 007075
    Tennessee , 1980
  • University of Tennessee Knoxville
    Doctor of Jurisprudence , 1979
    Knoxville, TN
  • University of Tennessee
    Bachelor of Arts , 1976
    Knoxville, TN

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