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The Director of the Justice Department’s U.S. Trustee Program (USTP), which oversees the administration of bankruptcy cases, is about to change for the first time in nearly 20 years. Clifford White will be stepping down from the role and consumer advocate Tara Twomey will be taking up the mantle. In a recent press announcement, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland noted that the USTP “plays a critical role in ensuring the fairness of the bankruptcy process — including by providing impartial oversight and protecting consumer debtors from fraud and abuse.” Garland said, “I am confident that Ms. Twomey’s leadership will advance USTP’s mission to promote the integrity and efficiency of the bankruptcy system for debtors, creditors, and the public.”

Twomey has extensive bankruptcy and consumer credit experience. She currently serves as the executive director for the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center, an “organization dedicated to protecting the integrity of the bankruptcy system and preserving the rights of consumer bankruptcy debtors.” She is also Of Counsel to the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), which “works across a number of issues facing consumers to stop exploitative practices, help financially stressed families build and retain wealth, and advance economic fairness.” Twomey has authored several books and articles on bankruptcy law and practice and is a contributing author of several books published by the NCLC, including Foreclosures: Defenses, Workouts and Mortgage Servicing. In 2019, she also was appointed as the Special Consumer Counsel to the Official Committee of Consumer Creditors in the Chapter 11 cases of Ditech Holding Corporation and its affiliates. In that role, she evaluates the consumer claims arising from Ditech’s servicing practices and makes determinations as to which claims will be paid out of the $10 million claim fund. In addition, she was appointed by Chief Justice Roberts to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules in 2021.

Twomey’s appointment likely signals increased focus and scrutiny on creditor practices in bankruptcy cases at a time when bankruptcies may be on the rise again. The USTP serves to provide impartial oversight in the bankruptcy process, as well as protect consumer debtors from fraud and abuse. Since 2015, the USTP has entered into multiple national settlements with various mortgage servicing companies regarding improper bankruptcy practices and filings, particularly in Chapter 13 cases. Under Twomey’s leadership, the USTP is likely to continue prioritizing proper handling of consumer debtors’ mortgage claims in bankruptcy.