As a debtor, you must make one appearance before the bankruptcy court. Although people refer to this appearance as their “bankruptcy hearing”, it is not actually
a court hearing. Instead, this appearance is a rather informal meeting before a Chapter 7 trustee whom the court has appointed to oversee specific bankruptcy cases.
This hearing, called the 341(a) hearing, is not conducted in a courtroom. Additionally, on the date of your appearance, there will be hundreds of other debtors in attendance as well! The trustee will call cases in sequential order in groups of five to ten to save time. Ultimately, when the Chapter 7 trustee calls a debtor’s name, they will move to the front of the line and answer a few brief questions. Then, believe it or not, the hearing concludes in about three minutes!
Typically, debtors who have retained a lawyer to represent them are very surprised to learn that their attorney cannot help at all during this brief question period. Note that creditors can also attend this informal meeting and ask questions, but as a practical matter, they rarely do.