The collapsed debt-collection law firm Mann Bracken LLP, at its own request, will be placed into receivership and liquidated rather than filing for bankruptcy protection, according to officials at Montgomery County Circuit Court in Maryland.

Earlier this year an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 collection lawsuits filed in Maryland were set to be dismissed as a result of Mann Bracken's collapse. Maryland District Court Chief Judge Ben Clyburn's office said his move to dismiss the lawsuits came after learning the firm had notified district court clerks across the state that it was shutting down.

Mann Bracken's troubles followed the November bankruptcy filing and liquidation of its affiliate Axiant LLC. The filing revealed that company owed Mann Bracken more than $10.5 million, making the law firm Axiant's largest unsecured creditor. Axiant provided phone, computer and staffing and support services to Mann Bracken.

According to a cease-and-desist order by Maryland's Collection Agency Licensing Board, Mann Bracken filed motions in some of its cases in January stating that Axiant's failure left the law firm unable to handle litigation.

The order says the state began investigating Mann Bracken on Jan. 4 after hearing from consumers who were unable to contact the firm because its phones were disconnected. Mann Bracken also had stopped cashing collection checks.

The law firm was formed in 2007 by the merger of three of the five largest collection firms in the country. The three firms' nonlegal support services were consolidated into Axiant.

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