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Claudia King: Going For Broke In Bankruptcy



One person's loss is often another's gain. Consider Claudia King, of bankruptcy-administration firm Claudia King & Associates Inc. King uses computers to help companies manage the endless paperwork of filing for bankruptcy--a growth market these days. Her client roster reads like a Who's Who of bankrupt companies, from the Trump Taj Mahal to Continental Airlines to Circle K Corp.

King's firm specializes in smoothing out the nitty-gritty of bankruptcy filings by automating all the administrative requirements. A customized software package provides back-office data processing while keeping track of such mundane details as filed claims and court-required mailings. Says Circle K Controller Diane Klein: "Claudia helped us navigate though a very convoluted process."

King's path into bankruptcy court, however, was hardly smooth. Married at 19 and a mother a year later, she had to drop out of college after only two years to work. "All my education has come from the school of hard knocks," she says. Her breakthrough came in 1980, when she moved to San Francisco and started as a temporary secretary at Itel Corp. When the equipment lessor filed for bankruptcy a year later, King landed the job of administering the proceedings. With Itel's programmers, she created software to help deal with the blizzard of paperwork. By 1984, she was marketing customized versions of the package to other bankrupt companies. She moved to Jersey City, N. J. in 1985, and started her own firm--and by last year she was pulling in revenues of $7 million.

King expects the spate of bankruptcies to continue well into the 1990s. Not that she's shedding any tears. Bankruptcy administration is a messy job. But somebody has to do it.Sunita Wadekar Bhargava in New York EDITED BY MICHAEL ONEAL

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