Originally created 09/16/99

Bankruptcy lawyer writes on prevention



Growing up in Augusta prepared Marguerite Kirk for the big, bad work of bankruptcy law.

In a small town, she was given her fair share of dirty work -- both inside the courtroom and in the Augusta practice with which she took her first job at age 23.

"I worked hard because I was the new person," Ms. Kirk said Wednesday in a phone interview from her Fort Worth, Texas, home. "In Augusta, they treated me like any young attorney: I got all the cases they didn't have time to do."

But Ms. Kirk, who now owns her own practice in Texas and has just published her fourth book, was not just another young attorney for Augusta, at least not in 1968. She was the city's first female attorney and one of only two female law graduates from the University of Georgia in 1967.

"The men didn't know exactly how to treat me," she said. So they treated her like one of the guys, forming a solid foundation for a lifetime of practicing law.

Ms. Kirk will return to Augusta this weekend to promote her latest book, The 10 Commandments of Small-Business Success, published in April by Bookhome Publishing. She will present a seminar and sign her book at Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Augusta West shopping center at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The book outlines the 10 crucial steps to ensuring a small business's success. It has been patterned after the hundreds of cases Ms. Kirk has tackled during 20 years of practicing bankruptcy law in Texas.

"About 90 percent of the people who have come to see me for total Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if they had come to see me earlier, I could have saved them," Ms. Kirk said. "Business owners are eternally optimistic -- they have to be. But they think it's going to get better, and it doesn't, and they get so deep in debt they can't turn it around."

Her book is an attempt to school small-business owners on the pitfalls of self-employment before they start up.

In addition to practicing law and writing nonfiction books, Ms. Kirk also teaches business law, marketing and management classes at the University of Texas at Arlington.

She has just completed her first novel and is looking for a publisher.

REACH

Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.