Helping Clients Recover from Financial Problems

Mounting medical bills and credit card debt can feel crushing for ALRP clients, many of whom experience difficulty managing the stress of their chronic medical condition and can be overwhelmed by a spiral of ever-expanding debt. As founder of The Chernev Firm, Panel attorney Mark Chernev sees bankruptcy as a helpful option for clients who have fallen on tough times. “My work is very rewarding,” Mark says. “It’s my goal to help clients gain financial control over their lives and give them a fresh start.”

Mark learned of ALRP when his good friend Ted Garey, an ALRP Staff Attorney, introduced him to the organization and inspired him to get involved. He joined the Panel in December 2009 and has already taken over twenty bankruptcy referrals. Mark exhibits an acute awareness of the economic situation of many ALRP clients: the struggle to maintain one’s health, job, housing, and insurance can lead many clients to consider bankruptcy.

Mark recognizes that once clients amass excessive debt, it can take a lot of courage to face their situation and take the steps needed to gain financial control. One of his clients recently stated, “I was not sure where to turn to with my situation…. I was extremely nervous.” After receiving assistance with filing, the client said, “Mark exceeded my expectations and was so thorough; it set my mind at ease.” Mark further demonstrates his commitment to helping ALRP clients by handling bankruptcies at a substantially reduced rate.

Mark’s dedication to assisting vulnerable communities has an interesting origin. Hailing from Parsippany, New Jersey, Mark graduated from Widener University School of Law in Delaware in 1999. He served as Deputy Attorney General for the Delaware Department of Justice for eight years and sees the similarities between people who have been victims of crime and those who have fallen on tough financial times. Mark says, “Helping people through the criminal justice system is as rewarding as helping people gain financial control of their lives.” While Mark has moved on from criminal court, he remains committed to helping people in need.

Since relocating to San Francisco three years ago, Mark has fallen in love with the Bay Area. He is a San Francisco history buff and member of Friends of the Library. An avid music fan, he especially enjoys listening to independent bands, classic rock, and hip hop. Although it was somewhat challenging to begin a law practice without any roots in the community, The Chernev Firm has flourished. It is no doubt due to Mark’s commitment to using his legal skills to improve the overall wellbeing of his clients. ALRP is truly grateful for Mark’s dedication to serving those living with HIV/AIDS.

Published July 2011