2012-09-04nytimes.com

``Lawyers sometimes joke about the impossibility of getting over this high bar, even as they stand in front of judges. "What I say to the judge is that as long as we've got a lottery, there is no certainty of hopelessness," said William Brewer Jr., a bankruptcy attorney in Raleigh, N.C. "They smile, and then they rule against you."

Debtors themselves struggle with testifying in their undue hardship cases. Carol Kenner, who spent 18 years working as a federal bankruptcy judge in Massachusetts before becoming a lawyer for the National Consumer Law Center, said that one particular case stuck in her mind. ''


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