An Atlanta-based federal appeals court panel has ruled that helping a pro se litigant complete a fill-in-the-blank bankruptcy petition does not constitute improper "ghostwriting" by a law firm.

The Aug. 29 opinion by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit cautioned that the court wasn't making broad pronouncements and was ruling only on the facts before it, which arose out of a south Florida bankruptcy case. But the ruling noted it was the first time the circuit had addressed the propriety of lawyers helping with the drafting of a document that's filed pro se.

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