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Irv Ackelsberg
Partner

Education

  • Rutgers-Camden Law School, J.D., Magna Cum Laude, 1976
  • Haverford College, B.A., 1972

Admissions

  • Pennsylvania
  • 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

 

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. He has earned 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.

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 servicing and foreclosure, bankruptcy, and RICO.

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 https://www.nclc.org/images/pdf/countryman/ackelsberg_05.pdf.

He authored the only current treatise on Pennsylvania foreclosure law, Residential Mortgage Foreclosure: Pennsylvania Law and Practice (Second Edition, George T. Bisel Co. 2014).

Among his many litigation successes are:

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Think Finance, Inc., 2018 WL 637656 (Jan. 31, 2018), 2016 WL 183289 (Jan. 14, 2016), No.  14-cv-7139 (E.D. Pa.). As Special Counsel for the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Langer Grogan & Diver successfully held responsible a Texas-based finance company and its CEO, as well as a private equity firm, that were operating and funding an illegal, online, “tribal” lending enterprise. This litigation, led by Irv, became a catalyst for a national settlement in bankruptcy court that closed the company and is producing a multi-million-dollar distribution to victimized consumers.

Solomon et al. v. American Web Loan, Inc., No. 4: 17-cv-145 (E.D. Va.).  In another case involving a “tribal” lending payday loan scheme, Irv was part of a team of lawyers that in 2021 successfully challenged the fairness and adequacy of a class action settlement, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in additional relief for the class.

Gillespie v. LoanCare, Feb. Term, 2019, No. 2806 (Phila. Common Pleas).  Irv uncovered a systematic overcharging of mortgage late fees by a major loan servicer and, in 2020, settled a nationwide class action for full recovery for the homeowners.

Goode v. First Advantage LNS (formerly LexisNexis) Screening Solutions, No. 11-2950 (E.D. Pa.). Irv was lead counsel in this 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. After the settlement was finally approved in December, 2014, Irv obtained individual actual damage awards for a large group of class members.

Wilson v. Bank of Am., N.A., 48 F. Supp. 3d 787 (E.D. Pa. 2014). Among the first cases decided on enhanced mortgagor rights established by the new Mortgage Servicing Rule promulgated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Gentry v. Siegel, 668 F.3d 83 (4th Cir. 2012). Irv authored a winning amicus curiae brief establishing the right of consumer creditors to file class claims in business chapter 11 cases.

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 the right of mortgage foreclosure defendants to assert equitable defenses relating to the origination or servicing of their mortgage.

Public Interest

Irv’s entire career has focused on practicing law in the public interest, as reflected in the awards he has received, including the 2001 Bending the ARC Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association for “exemplary service in the public interest,” and the National Consumer Law Center’s 2005 Vern Countryman Award. 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).
    See 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 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 “disloyal” committee people for 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.

In the Community

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 has been involved in the successful election and re-election of Philadelphia Councilwoman Helen Gym, serving as Campaign Treasurer.

He serves on the board of POWER Interfaith, Inc., a Pennsylvania nonprofit that seeks to provide a prophetic voice on such issues as fair funding for public education and economic dignity.

Irv is active in his synagogue, which he helped to found in the 1980’s, and is a proud husband, father and grandfather.

 

Publications/Presentations

  • 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)

Awards/Memberships

  • 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, Bending the ARC 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 and Philadelphia Legal Services