In a Nutshell

During our first three years at Upsolve, we had to answer a hard question: who is Upsolve for?

Written by Rohan Pavuluri.  
Updated July 22, 2020


Dear Community,

During our first three years at Upsolve, we had to answer a hard question: Who is Upsolve for?

To answer this question, we received feedback from bankruptcy attorneys, judges, academics, and trustees across the United States. As the largest nonprofit for bankruptcy in the U.S., we also learned a great deal first hand about how the bankruptcy system in America works. Here are some important things for us to make clear.

1. Upsolve isn’t for everyone. Upsolve is only for the simplest Chapter 7 cases. Local lawyers are best for people who don’t have simple Chapter 7 cases.

2. We need to ask hundreds of questions and collect several documents to figure out who may have a simple Chapter 7 case and who does not. This can be frustrating to people who are screened out after answering lots of questions, but it’s the only way to ensure the right people use Upsolve.

3. We screen out complicated cases in the best interests of our users. We want everyone who should get a discharge to get a discharge, and we don’t want people to use Upsolve if we think a self-service software tool is not the right tool for them.

What does it mean to have a simple Chapter 7 case?

We only let people use our software if we believe that the outcome they receive with our service is the same outcome they’d receive through a traditional attorney. There’s no way to ever know this for sure, so we veer towards being over cautious in screening people out. Our guiding philosophy is to do no harm.

To figure out whether someone is a good fit for Upsolve, we ask hundreds of questions. If at any point a user answers one of these questions in such a way that we don’t think they’re a good fit for our software, we tell them they cannot use our software. We give them the option to get a free consultation from an independent, third-party attorney.

Here are three examples of reasons why we tell people they cannot use our software.

1. User owns a home. Upsolve doesn't help homeowners because of the variety of issues that can arise for homeowners. Whether that is catching up or modifying a mortgage, or making sure that the filer's home is not at risk for being sold by the Trustee, we don't want to take any chances with people's homes.

2. User earns above the median income for their state. If you earn above the median income for your state, a sophisticated and in-depth means test analysis is necessary to determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 relief. This requires a legal analysis and knowledge of highly localized norms and procedures that our software cannot provide.

3. User has a pending personal injury lawsuit. If you're entitled to a possible recovery in a personal injury lawsuit when you file bankruptcy, the Trustee may step in your shoes and conclude or settle the lawsuit, then distribute some or all of the proceeds to your creditors. Our software is unable to assist you through this challenge.

Best,

Rohan, CEO and Co-Founder



About the author
Rohan Pavuluri

Rohan Pavuluri is the CEO and Co-founder of Upsolve, the largest bankruptcy nonprofit in America. He graduated from Harvard College in 2018. He is also a member of the Legal Services Corporation’s Emerging Leaders Council, a Board Director at the National Access to Justice Center... read more

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

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