Law Offices of James Shepherd

Firm Overview

I opened my own firm in 2009, bringing more than 15 years of bankruptcy experience. I help consumers and small businesses resolve their financial problems through the bankruptcy process. I am attentive, caring, and responsive to my clients' needs and goals. I focus on Chapter 7 and 13 as well as Chapter 11 cases to resolve both personal and business debts, and I litigate student loan dischargeability and other contested bankruptcy matters.

Example cases

I work hard every day to help people keep their homes and other assets, stop garnishments and creditor harassment, and rebuild their financial lives.

Main Office
514 El Cerrito Plaza
El Cerrito  CA  94530
  • (510) 527-9600
  • (510) 722-2022


Free Initial Consultation?
I offer a free 30-60 minute consultation to Nolo clients.
Services Offered For Fixed Fees?
My flat fee for Chapter 7 cases averages $1,500-$2,200 plus the court filing fee. My fee varies, depending on the types of debts and assets at issue and the overall complexity of the case. For litigation such as student loan dischargeability cases and defending creditor lawsuits, I charge an hourly rate of $300 per hour.
Hourly Rates

Office Information

Office Hours
Early morning, evening, and weekend appointments are available. I can meet at the client's workplace or other location in the East Bay, North Bay, or San Francisco.
Emergency After Hours

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

My law school offered lots of bankruptcy courses and I took them all. Bankruptcy can help people in financial distress to resolve their problems and emerge with their dignity intact and a chance to start over. Ever since taking a bankruptcy course in 1993, I have been fortunate to be a part of that process.

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

I encourage clients to educate themselves about bankruptcy, foreclosure, and other areas of law. But with today's tougher and more complex bankruptcy laws, I would advise against filing for bankruptcy without an attorney. The stakes are too high and the penalties for legal missteps are too severe.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

If a client hires or intends to hire me, I am glad to review pre-prepared documents. After all, the client knows his or her situation best, and reviewing a client's documents helps me to learn the facts and understand the client's point of view.

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

I provide a free 30-minute consultation to Nolo clients, after which the client decides whether or not to hire me. For liability reasons, I cannot coach clients who choose to represent themselves.

James A. Shepherd

Among the jobs I had before becoming a lawyer was as a commercial fisherman on a factory trawler in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. After law school I clerked for a bankruptcy judge, practiced bankruptcy for nine years in a large law firm setting, and then litigated and administered bankruptcy matters for the U.S. Department of Justice in San Francisco for two years. I came to realize that my greatest strength as an attorney, and what I enjoy most, is advising people and small businesses on how to resolve their financial problems.

Being raised by loving, hard-working, parents who grew up during the Depression; delivering newspapers; mopping floors; washing dishes; waiting tables; cooking on the line in a 200+-plate-per-night restaurant kitchen; tutoring deaf students in college; managing a rent-a-car office; working 16-hour shifts on a Bering Sea fishing trawler; welding and pipe-fitting on a ship in dry-dock; editing law review articles; clerking for a bankruptcy judge; running the Boston Marathon; volunteering my services to inmates and others in need; being married and raising a seven year-old son; helping consumers and businesses to resolve their debts and protect their rights -- all these experiences shape who I am as a person and a lawyer.

I listen well, get to the heart of the matter quickly, and provide practical, compassionate, and results-driven advice.

Personal interests:

My family; hiking in Marin County, the East Bay, and the North Coast; and swimming.

  • Bar Number: 264400
    California , 2009
  • Bar Number:
    Virginia , 1995
  • Indiana University
    Juris Doctor , 1995
    Bloomington, IN
    Articles Editor, Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies.
  • McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland College)
    Bachelor of Arts , 1985
    Westminster, MD

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