FEATURED BUSINESS: Thomas Braham, attorney
Raised by a single mother north of Chicago, Colorado bankruptcy lawyer Thomas Braham knows about the financial difficulties many of his clients endure.
“When my clients say to me, ‘You probably don’t get what it’s like to have to sleep in your car,’ I say, ‘Yeah, I do.’”
Braham presents a clinic on Chapter 7 bankruptcy for low-income earners with no assets in conjunction with The Pro Bono Project of Mesa County from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6. The clinic takes place at 619 Main Street.
The clinic will provide assistance and video instruction for individuals to complete a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy petition on their own. There is a $25 charge.
The video was produced as a favor from one of Braham’s friends in the film industry that he met at college and who owed him a favor.
“I introduced him to his wife,” Braham said.
The video presents just about every issue that could come up for bankruptcy filers while taking them page-by-page through the bankruptcy petition they must file with the court.
It’s a chance for Braham to give back for the low-cost education he received.
Braham said he was destined for a stint with the U.S. Marine Corps until he earned a full-ride Evans Scholarship to the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he studied English literature.
After opening and running Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shops north of Chicago following graduation, a zoning variance dispute led to law school.
He attended Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich., also on scholarship, but his final 10 law school credits were earned through an American Bar Association Externship at the Colorado Supreme Court Library.
While studying for the Colorado Bar Examination, he law clerked for Adams County Court Judge Sabino Romano.
Braham said Romano gave him some of the best advice of his early career.
“He told me, ‘In law, you can either help people into or out of trouble.’ “
Braham generally tries to help people out.
A bankruptcy attorney who represents debtors almost exclusively, he likes to fight for the little guys.
In addition to the video and clinics he presents at little or no cost, Braham regularly volunteers to take on adversarial bankruptcies for seniors who are being taken advantage of by aggressive creditors.
Sometimes Braham is able to settle debts that help his clients avoid bankruptcy, which usually means he gets paid nothing for the case. On the bright side, the interaction usually results in three referrals, he said.
“My work rewards me with some really nice Christmas cards,” Braham said. “And I try and keep it professional, but everyone always wants to hug me after we strip off their second mortgage in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.”
Braham said he has helped run the three biggest bankruptcy firms in the state of Colorado, but now wants a little more sanity and control of his schedule. His one-man law firm, Abraham Law, allows him to spend more time with his wife as well as hunting, fishing and climbing on the Western Slope.
He’s worked on hundreds of cases in Grand Junction, Rifle and other West Slope cities and towns.
“I have handled thousands of petitions and will give you realistic expectations, reasonable fees, and my hard work,” he said.