- A Soul-Crushing Experience
- Changing Directions
- Empathy for the Client, Not the Creditor
- Areas of Practice
- Bar Admissions
- Professional Associations and Memberships
In a way, Mark Toronjo decided to become a lawyer because he likes to argue with people. Thankfully, for an attorney that is a very useful trait.
“I enjoy the thrust and parry of debating, finding the one hole in my opponent’s argument and exploiting that weakness while shielding my own,” he explains. “It’s like fencing, only with words instead of swords.”
As a bankruptcy attorney with Allmand Law, a Dallas TX law firm specializing in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 consumer bankruptcy, Toronjo, 29, has had many opportunities to put his sharp analytical mind and verbal skills to a good use – no debate about that!
“This strategy allows me to see an issue from both sides, to evaluate my position and any problems that must be overcome,” he says. “I have won many cases because of quick thinking and clear, well-presented oral arguments.”
A soul-crushing experience
Before he decided to become an attorney, Texas native Toronjo majored in computer science at Texas A & M. But working with computers is a pretty lonely – not to mention a silent – task, and Toronjo realized it wouldn’t provide him with an opportunity to showcase his debating abilities.
“After much soul-searching, I discovered that the thing I enjoyed the most – certainly more than computers – was arguing, so I switched my major to political science and decided to attend law school after that,” Toronjo recalls.
After graduating from T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond and passing his bar exam in 2005, Toronjo took a job with the U.S. Small Business Administration. His first assignment was processing loans and other paperwork for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Although this work had nothing to do with the bankruptcy field, the biggest natural disaster to hit the United States was, in a way, a turning point in the young attorney’s life.
“It was a soul-crushing environment and it reinforced my desire to help people in need,” Toronjo relates. “And it also made me realize that the best way to achieve that goal was not with the government, but in private practice.”
That realization eventually led Toronjo to Allmand Law, but not before another turning point nudged him forward.
Out of law school, Toronjo practiced family law and criminal defense. “I enjoyed those fields, but I had always wanted to practice in Federal Courts, and, even more importantly, help people save their homes and assets. There is something very meaningful about that.”
Toronjo joined Allmand Law in January 2008 and quickly discovered it was a perfect fit. The firm is the largest filer of bankruptcies in Northern District Dallas, and among the top 10 nationwide for the volume of filing. By using a federal law called the “bankruptcy stay,” which forces creditors to cease all collections, the firm and its attorneys have helped numerous clients save their properties and protect their finances.
“In other areas of the law, you are sometimes a ‘good’ guy and at other times you are a ‘bad’ guy,” Toronjo says. “But in bankruptcy you help people in need, people who are fighting big business and could never win if it were not for expert help of a bankruptcy attorney. That’s why, as a bankruptcy lawyer, I am always the ‘good’ guy. And that is a very nice feeling.”
He cites a case of a client whose car was illegally repossessed by an unscrupulous creditor who refused to return the vehicle after notice. “I filed a lawsuit on her behalf and won a judgment against the creditor that included punitive damages, the first time the Chief Justice of the Northern District of Texas has awarded punitive damages in a case regarding the violation of the automatic Stay by a creditor,” Toronjo relates. “That made me feel that I was definitely in the right field. ”
Empathy for the client, not the creditor
Because he often deals with “desperate” cases – like the client who was stricken with terminal cancer, had no insurance, and accumulated $300,000 in medical bills – Toronjo likes to bat for the “little” guy.
“The majority of creditors in a bankruptcy case are mega corporations, which spend millions of dollars on lobbyists to keep Congress from amending the bankruptcy laws that would benefit consumers,” Toronjo says. “They are holding the big end of the stick and spare no money to fight individuals who take the legitimate and legal avenue presented by bankruptcy.”
That is why, Toronjo says, he is glad he chose bankruptcy as his niche. “It is the one branch of law where I feel absolutely no sympathy for the opposition. And, I am glad my excellence at oral argument saves the day for my clients.”
Who can argue with that?
Areas of Practice:
- Texas, 2005
- University of Richmond School of Law
- Texas A&M University
- Major: Political Science
Professional Associations and Memberships:
- North Dallas Bar Association
- Dallas Bar Association
- Tarrant County Bar Association
- Northern and Eastern districts of Texas, Federal Court