Ken and Tasha Revell, a husband and wife attorney team, founded the law firm of Zalkin Revell following Hurricane Ivan's destruction of their home. Ken (an eighth generation Southwest Georgian) and his family had, for decades, owned homes both in Southwest Georgia, as well as a weekend home in the Florida Panhandle. Hurricane Ivan, a “Category 5” storm, changed all of that, but launched a law firm.
On a bright blue skied afternoon, Ken worked cutting lumber on the tailgate of his F150 and boarding up the family's panhandle home on the Choctawhatchee Bay, while listening to radio updates regarding the approaching storm. Suddenly a weather announcement reported that hurricane Ivan had redirected its path from the anticipated landfall at Mobile and was now headed directly to the Florida Panhandle.
It was reminiscent of the great flood caused by Alberto, only several years earlier, which hit the panhandle, moving quickly into southwest Georgia where it stalled, flooding communities from Bainbridge to Albany to Americus, inundating 471,000 acres of farmland and killing 31 people.
Ken knew that a tidal surge from the Gulf through the Destin channel would result in massive flooding. Early the next morning, the Revells awoke to find their home surrounded by water with the surge still rising. The family sought refuge in a church where they spent the following night. The next morning, Ken returned to find their home and everything in it destroyed. Water was still two feet deep in the house as Ken waded through it, with furniture and kids toys floating throughout.
The cause of the destruction was undeniable, and unlike some other types of loss, no one can start a hurricane. The insurance carriers, however, continued to refuse payment for the complete loss of the home. Despite the destruction of the home, the Revells had to continue to make thousands of dollars in monthly payments to the mortgage holder.
It was clear that a tactic of the insurance carriers was to financially strap owners of destroyed homes in order to force claims settlements. Fortunately, the Revells had the financial ability to continue making their mortgage payments, while fighting the insurance company, but observed many elderly people, military retirees, and those on fixed incomes being squeezed from their homes.
Ultimately, the insurance company who had initially offered $10,000, paid hundreds of thousands to resolve the Revells' loss. During this period, the real estate boom was in full swing and Ken recognized it as an artificially created bubble, fueled by interest only and negative amortization loans. It was clearly a bubble, and like all bubbles, it would eventually burst. This bubble however, unlike the dot.com bubble, related to the very homes of the American people. When this bubble burst, Ken reasoned, it would not merely be money lost, but family homes, family farms and family businesses. The Revells also recognized that Congress was at that time working on revamping the U.S. Bankruptcy Code with the clear intent of making it more difficult for the middle-class to pursue chapter 7 bankruptcy relief.
Accepting the Call
The stark reality of that time was that a financial storm of great significance was approaching, and that marriages, families, children, and perhaps future generations of children could be damaged or lost in the surge of the real estate collapse. At the same moment, Congress was restricting bankruptcy relief for those very families who were going to need its protection. The Revells foresaw that the the need would be great and immersed themselves in the new Bankruptcy Act which had then become law, awaiting the inevitable real estate collapse.
With the failure of Washington Mutual, Lehman Brothers and AIG, it was clear that the financial storm was upon us. The Revells sold family holdings and a family business in order to devote all of their efforts to helping the victims of the financial storm. The Revells had accepted the calling and Zalkin Revell was created.
In the years that followed, Zalkin Revell has represented the great and the small, the educated and the uneducated. We have represented business entities with millions of dollars of US government contracts and we have secured discharges from overwhelming debt for the widow on Social Security. Zalkin Revell has reorganized and worked to discharge overwhelming debt for surgeons, architects, veterinarians, dentist, former bank presidents, high-rise condominium developers, real estate professionals, lawyers, pastors, as well as waitresses, landscapers, welders, bus drivers, security guards, window washers, store clerks, construction workers, retirees and the unemployed.
Zalkin Revell has successfully navigated military retirees, as well as active duty members with top secret security clearances, through the bankruptcy process. Zalkin Revell has represented Harvard graduates and those with no high school education.
The Zalkin Revell Creed
Every human being is of value and worthy of redemption. Excessive debt is slavery from which people deserve to be free. God commands in both Testaments, forgiveness of debt toward those who cannot pay. No business which offers gainful employment to people should be closed merely because of excessive debt. No family farm that can be saved should ever be surrendered. When the storms of life arise, God's people must respond.
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