Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney Robert Semrad Cuts the First Turf for Client-Centered Debt and Bankruptcy Services
Robert Semrad is one of the county’s leading bankruptcy attorneys. Having founded a number of companies and, more recently, a charitable foundation – he bases his activities on a few defining principles provoked by the experiences he had as a kid growing up in Chicago’s suburbs.
Semrad’s father was a corporate attorney and this mother practices real estate. A local Chicago family man, he grew up in Barrington and graduated college with a degree in psychology. He obtained his law degree from DePaul University, the same school his father attended. He is close with his family, now working with his brother who is an attorney at the firm, and his family’s struggles with money growing up had a profound effect on him.
At the beginning of his career, he represented banks and creditors and was appalled at the tactics and general disregard for people and their families. He took notice how little compassion lawyers brought to the table and how he could use his psychology degree to bring empathy into an already dismal process.
This first-hand knowledge of the debt and banking industry coupled with his personal experience changed his perspective and led to the establishment of DebtStoppers as well as his foundation.
“The most important role of my life is being a dad,” Semrad explains having kids solidified his need to always help and create a positive effect on other people. He cherishes the satisfaction of serving the community. “However, it’s also very important to me to provide solid resources for families facing some harsh realities. I want to educate people about the bankruptcy process.”
“I believe firmly in the need to hire good attorneys. I know my clients need experts to overcome their fear of being taken advantage of.”
In 2003, Semrad founded DebtStoppers to: offer a qualified understanding of the law and offer compassion to the families and individuals he is representing.
The first step to making the firm a successful resource was hiring top attorneys that stayed in the firm for years. He’s accomplished that, many of the firm’s top attorneys (including his brother) have been with the group since the beginning.
When asked why he focuses on helping those living in Chicago’s inner-city and have financial issues, he answered that is because he feels people get exploited. “I believe firmly in the need to hire good attorneys. I know my clients need experts to overcome their fear of being taken advantage of.”
Semrad offers the example of “pay day loans” will let someone borrow $200 but charge 1,000% of interest. “When someone is trapped in a situation like that one, that person needs advice, someone that listen to him/her. It’s important to eliminate or lessen the shame of a financial situation because it doesn’t reflect who they are as people.”
Semrad works hard to get people out of debt, get their self-esteem back and let them know that “it can happen to anyone.”
“When someone is trapped in a situation like that one, that person needs advice, someone that listen to him/her. It’s important to eliminate or lessen the shame of a financial situation because it doesn’t reflect who they are as people.
Since its founding in 2003, DebtStoppers has 155 employees, 90 of them attorneys. His clientele is mainly minorities especially African Americans, people with dual-income homes, people who suffered a loss in their family, death of a family member, victims of “loan sharks” and “mortgage deal scams,” people who bought a car with a high interest rate and suffer from corporations taking advantage.
Robert Semrad believes there is a lot of people that need help right away and his firm often offers assistance upfront, such as the court fees so the case can be filed and a client’s assets saved from foreclosure. His mission statement is to put the client first.