Irv Ackelsberg joined the firm in September 2006. A prominent public interest lawyer, Irv practiced for 30 years with Community Legal Services, Inc. (“CLS”) of Philadelphia, generally recognized among the highest quality civil legal aid programs in the country. At CLS, Irv led its consumer law work, developing a national reputation for creative advocacy involving issues such as representation of homeowner victims of mortgage fraud, student victims of fraudulent trade schools, low-wage workers harmed by abusive employment background screening, and consumer creditors in chapter 11 proceedings.
Irv was the 2005 recipient of the Vern Countryman Award, the nation’s most prestigious consumer law award, presented annually by the National Consumer Law Center. See http://www.nclc.org/award/index.shtml.
Now in his fourth decade of practice, Irv has substantial trial-level and appellate experience in the federal and Pennsylvania civil systems. He is an expert in such diverse areas as consumer credit, mortgage foreclosure, bankruptcy, consumer fraud and employment background reporting.
He authored the only current treatise on Pennsylvania foreclosure law, Residential Mortgage Foreclosure: Pennsylvania Law and Practice (Second Edition, George T. Bisel Co. 2014) [link to http://www.bisel.com/descriptions/bk714.htm].
Among his many litigation successes are:
Goode v. First Advantage LNS (formerly LexisNexis) Screening Solutions, No. 11-2950 (E.D. Pa.). Lead counsel in national class action representing thousands of retail workers who lost job opportunities due to employers’ use of a now-suspended, secret, non-criminal, theft database. Settlement was finally approved in December, 2014.
Moore v. Rite Aid Hdqtrs. Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69747 (E.D. Pa. May 29, 2015). Denying motion to dismiss in national class action against employer who failed to provide prior notice of its use of adverse background reports from consumer reporting agency that had scored the applicants ineligible for employment.
Wilson v. Bank of Am., N.A., 48 F. Supp. 3d 787 (E.D. Pa. 2014). Among first cases decided on enhanced mortgagor rights established by new Mortgage Servicing Rule promulgated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Gentry v. Siegel, 668 F.3d 83 (4th Cir. 2012). Authored winning amicus curiae brief, establishing the right of consumer creditors to file class claims in business chapter 11 case.
Green Tree Consumer Discount Co. v. Newton, 909 A.2d 811 (Pa. Super. 2006); Smith v. Fleet Real Estate Funding Corp., 530 A.2d 919 (1987). Cases establishing right of mortgage foreclosure defendants to assert equitable defenses relating to the origination or servicing of their mortgage.
Rutgers-Camden Law School, J.D., Magna Cum Laude, 1976
Haverford College, B.A., 1972
United States Supreme Court
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Residential Mortgage Foreclosure: Pennsylvania Law and Practice (Second Edition, George T. Bisel Co. 2014)
Single Plaintiff Claims in Mortgage Origination and Servicing, “Don’t Mortgage Your Future,” Pennsylvania Bar Institute, January, 2015
Using Civil RICO to Enhance FDCPA Cases, 2013 National Consumer Law Center Training Conference
Pennsylvania Mortgage Foreclosure: Legal Foundations and Defenses, Judicial Training by Pennsylvania Administrative Office of the Courts, December 2012
Applying Civil RICO Conspiracy against Banks, 2012 Consumer Rights Litigation Conference
Civil RICO for Consumer Lawyers, 2011 Consumer Rights Litigation Conference
Saving the Family Home in the Subprime Mortgage Crisis, Course Planner for Pennsylvania Bar Institute, March, 2009
Pennsylvania Consumer Law (Carter, ed., Second Edition, George T. Bisel Co. 2003) (chapters on Mortgage Foreclosure and Repossessions)
Assisting Clients Seeking the Road to Decent Jobs: Job Training Advocacy, Clearinghouse Review, Vol. 29, No. 3 (July 1995)
2005, Vern Countryman Award, National Consumer Law Center (for Excellence and Dedication in the practice of consumer law on behalf of low-income consumers)
2001, Andrew Hamilton Award, Philadelphia Bar Association Public Interest Section (in recognition of Twenty-Five Years of Dedicated Service to the Cause of Equal Justice)
Member, National Association of Consumer Advocates
Board of Trustees, Community Legal Services, Inc.
Irv’s entire career has focused on practicing law in the public interest, as reflected in the awards he has received, including the 2001 Andrew Hamilton Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association for “exemplary service in the public interest,” and the National Consumer Law Center’s 2005 Vern Countryman Award, http://www.nclc.org/award/index.shtml. After joining Langer Grogan & Diver in 2006, Irv has continued his commitment to law in the public interest, particularly regarding civic controversies within his Philadelphia community.
Among these public interest activities have been the following:
- Irv led the legal fight in 2008-09 that ultimately stopped the City of Philadelphia’s announced closing of eleven neighborhood branches of the Free Library system. Westbrook et al. v. Nutter, Dec. Term 2008, No. 4091 (Adjudication filed Jan. 5, 2009). http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/judge-overrules-philadelphia-branch-closings/ That effort was so successful in galvanizing overwhelming public support for these critical City resources that the Mayor later restored most of the funds that had been cut from the Library’s budget, publicly describing the closure decision as the worst he had made. Irv has continued his work to strengthen the relationship between the Free Library and Philadelphia’s neighborhoods through his work as a board member (and President) of the nonprofit Friends of Free Library.
- He represented an elected Democratic Party committee person in Philadelphia who was not seated due to her perceived lack of loyalty to the entrenched political machine, challenging the applicability of a Party rule allowing removal of a “disloyal” committee people regarding alleged misconduct occurring before the voters have spoken. Although the case was ultimately ruled moot as a result of the plaintiff’s hiring by the City’s election commissioner, Gordon v. Phila. County Democratic Exec. Comm., 80 A.3d 464 (Pa. Super. 2013), the local Party amended its rule to clarify that pre-election conduct was not a proper basis for removal. See http://www.the-next-stage.com/2012/05/after-two-years-will-of-voters-is.html.
- Using a constitutional due process argument, he and John Grogan are currently challenging the methods by which rented properties in Philadelphia are being liened by the City-owned gas utility for unpaid bills of long-gone tenants in a class action on behalf of residential and commercial landlords. Augustin v. City of Philadelphia, No. 14-cv-4238 (E.D. Pa.).
Irv’s active engagement in his community goes beyond his legal practice. He is the long-time co-chair of his neighborhood association and has been an outspoken participant in neighborhood development issues.
He was a candidate for Philadelphia City Council in 2007, for the district representing Northwest Philadelphia. Although he was not successful on Election Day, the “Irv ‘07” campaign he ran solidified his reputation as a dedicated and talented public servant. More recently he advised the successful city-wide campaign of Helen Gym, for whom he served as Campaign Treasurer.
Irv is active in his synagogue, which he helped to found in the 1980’s, and he is a proud husband, father and grandfather.