Umar Akbar Ahmed Addresses Difficulties Facing ALN Clients

By Frank Curren


Before the recession, Tina had a flourishing career in the local school system as a teacher and a school administrator. Like many professionals, Tina had been forced to take out a large amount of debt to get the credentials she needed to do the work she loved. When the recession forced the school system into a round of layoffs, Tina found herself jobless. She quickly fell behind on her loan payments, and soon she was getting harassing calls from creditors. A diligent person, Tina had never before been unable to meet her obligations. Finding a new job after being laid off requires focus and confidence in a time when the newly jobless person is usually quite unnerved. This unsettling situation with her creditors further discouraged Tina, and so she decided to seek assistance from the Legal Network.

Attorney Umar Akbar Ahmed was so moved by Tina’s circumstance that he took on her case. As a child Umar learned the importance of helping others from his parents, which is what attracted him to study and practice law. Umar has law degrees from England and The George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he received the Buergenthal Scholarship. Umar has worked for two United States Congressmen and was promoted twice to the Position of Policy Advisor and Legislative Counsel. Umar's work with a Congressman on the Financial Services Committee at a time when credit reform was heavily debated made him realize "the status quo was an unfair system that urgently needed to be addressed."

As Tina’s attorney, Umar’s first order of business was to stop the harassing mail and phone calls that Tina was receiving from those hired to collect by the lending companies. Umar sent out judgment-proof and cease letters. Umar next helped Tina make an informed decision about how to handle her debts. The first question was whether bankruptcy should be used as the solution to Tina's problems. Bankruptcy can allow people to shed off impossible financial obligations, but this relief comes with a number of consequences, including worsening the debtor’s ability to borrow money in the future. Therefore, an intelligent decision about whether or not to use bankruptcy must take into account the client’s goals for the future as well as their financial status in the present. Secondly, if Tina decided to file for bankruptcy, should she choose Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy? After Umar conducted a detailed analysis of Tina’s specific situation and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each option with her, Tina settled on Chapter 7.

Umar spent the next few months in the GW law library familiarizing himself with the law that applied in this particular case, collecting information from Tina necessary to fill out the bankruptcy petitions and attending proceedings to observe debtors and creditors facing off in the bankruptcy court. Fortunately, Umar’s detailed preparation, continuous contact with the creditors, and attention to detail proved successful. As a result, none of the creditors contested Tina’s claim to discharge. Tina was soon issued a formal notice of discharge from the bankruptcy court.

Tina noted, “During our meeting and throughout the procedure Mr. Ahmed was at all time very accommodating, working diligently, dedicated, consistent in meeting with me and filing paper work in a timely manner. During this time I was kept well abreast of each procedure as he walked me through each step of the process. I must point out that what impressed me most about Mr. Ahmed’s approach was his enthusiasm and unparalleled dedication in assisting me. It gives me great pleasure to express my gratitude to Mr. Ahmed for his natural ability to assist those in need at any endeavor and without reservation.”

With a new chance for a fresh start, Tina was able to find another job in the classroom. Umar continues to work with a number of legal services organizations, helping needy clients in a number of practice areas including foreclosure defense, landlord-tenant, and immigration. We thank both of them for their positive contributions to the community.

(This story uses a fictitious name to refer to the client)



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