Chantel Grant has spent her legal career fighting debt collection cases. After obtaining her Doctor of Law at St. Thomas University School of Law, Grant harnessed her knowledge and passion to defend against credit card, medical, and private student loan lawsuits with GM Law Firm, LLC in Boca Raton, Florida. Her focus is debt defense and violations of federal acts that are meant to protect consumers.
Grant’s life-long passion for consumer debt resolution is only rivaled by her love for animals. She shares her home with multiple feathered friends, including parrots and ducks. As Senior Partner at GM Law Firm, Grant enjoys giving back to the community whenever possible. GM collects food throughout the year to donate to Feeding South Florida and toys that go to the Marine Toys for Tots program. The firm also participates in Alzheimer’s Association Walks and pro-bono work for clients with Alzheimer’s. In this interview, Chantel Grant discusses her role at the firm and what GM does to help those in debt.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to get involved?
I have always been a consumer defense attorney. It was the first job I landed out of law school, and I must admit, it was not what I was expecting to fall in love with. The longer I worked in this field, the more I loved the idea of fighting back against credit card companies and debt collectors. Fighting the Goliaths of the private student loan and credit card companies has always been very appealing to me. I truly think it was my calling. I love to give the underdog a voice and to fight for what is just. Justice does not always come easily, and there are many hurdles that we overcome each day, but each small win feels like a huge victory.
What is your current role as the senior partner?
My role is to oversee my staff and make sure each client has representation every step of this process. We handle Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (“FDCPA”) violations, Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) violations, Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) violations, as well as other federal consumer defense statutes that were enacted to help protect consumers from debt collection harassment. We also represent consumers if they are sued by their creditors, and help resolve their debts, either through violations, litigation, or as a last resort, with a partial dismissal.
What is a typical day at the office like for you?
A typical day starts by putting out any urgent fires that may have popped up overnight. I begin by answering emails, and phone calls. I schedule time to call each new client who is enrolling, and make sure they know what they have to do in order to get the most out of our representation. I need to make sure the clients are able to send me all their call logs detailing any collection activity from their creditors, as well as any letters, or legal documents.
I meet with my litigation team to go over any upcoming deadlines for each day and make sure all hearings are being covered. We spend a lot of time drafting responses to lawsuits and preparing for trials and hearings. I collect any call logs, and letters that my clients have received, and review them for FDCPA, FCRA, or TCPA violations. I then reach out to the creditors and debt collectors who have violated my client’s rights and negotiate a dismissal, or damage amounts that should be paid to my clients. I also take time each week to train my attorneys, legal assistants, and paralegals, and make sure everyone is following the proper procedures and protocols with each client. If there were any new issues that we had not previously addressed, we set up a special training session in order to get those new issues handled.
When you were starting out as a lawyer, was there ever a time you doubted yourself? If so, how did you handle that?
When starting out as a new lawyer, I really did not ever doubt myself. I have, however, doubted whether the legal system was designed properly, and whether all consumers get a fair crack at their defense. It seems that judges often do not take these credit card and student loan lawsuits very seriously, so that is always something we have to chip away at, and we do have to educate a lot of judges. We take a lot of pride in the fact that we have changed many judges’ opinions on these types of collection lawsuits. Often times judges have murder trials and other major criminal trials during the same week, or even day, as my debt defense hearings, so you tend to wonder if they think these collection cases are just small potatoes compared to the rest of their docket. However, with enough effort, we are able to educate the judges on our area of consumer defense law, and make them realize that all we are doing is making sure creditors and collectors are treating consumers fairly and acting according to their contracts.
What drew your interest to the field of debt resolution and consumer law? Can you describe the relevance of this field today?
I believe that we are more relevant now than we have ever been. The tide is finally turning in our favor and the country is starting to take notice. You now see articles about Navient and other student loan lenders being fined by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You see them paying fines to government officials for unlawfully charging active duty service members with high interest rates and late fees on student loans, when there were statutes designed to prevent student loan lenders from charging active duty service members those fees. I think we are going to see more and more of these fines and lawsuits, which are bringing more attention to my field and making my clients understand that they are not the only ones dealing with these issues.
How did you feel after helping your first client?
I felt amazing after helping my first client! It was such a wonderful feeling to have fought back against the debt collectors and to have obtained a dismissal for my client. She had borrowed $10,000 to bury her daughter after her daughter was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. The installment loan creditor was charging her $120,000 for her $10,000 loan. I was able to get her loan dismissed because the creditor was charging illegal interest rates and was unable to provide the written contract which was the basis of their lawsuit. This win most likely catapulted me into the field of consumer defense law, and really set in stone that this is where I was supposed to be. It might not be as exciting as defending a murder case, or as thrilling as a high-profile celebrity divorce case, but to me, fighting these collection cases is even more rewarding. Since very few lawyers want to take these cases, and most lawyers do not represent student loan lawsuits at all, I feel like I am filling a very important niche.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I am successful because I never give up. If my first solution is not successful, I move on and find another solution. So far, there has not been a problem that was not able to be solved. Our motto here is that “every problem is a solution waiting to be found.”
What do you want our readers to know about your firm?
I want readers to know that there are firms out there that can help them when they are facing creditor harassment, or when they find themselves unable to pay their unsecured debts, or are sued by a creditor or debt collector. I want them to know that they are not alone, and that 8 out of 10 Americans are in debt! In 2017, the average household had a credit card balance of $15,654. The average student has $31,333 in student loan debt, and over 11% of students will default on their student loans. This leaves many people unable to pay their bills each month, which can risk lawsuits, judgments, garnishments, bank levies, and even property liens. In some states, your license can be taken away for failure to pay your student loans. We are here to help! If you find yourself with unsecured debt that you are unable to pay, and feel like it is spiraling out of control, reach out to us for a free consultation. GM Law Firm, LLC may have a debt resolution program that is right for you.