Bankruptcy attorney, Molleur Law Office
When Massachusetts native and Portland bankruptcy attorney Tanya Sambatakos “fell in love with Maine” more than six years ago, she also embarked on a career aimed at helping people get back on their feet. And she is taking her passion for the underdog beyond the bankruptcy code.
Sambatakos, 31, of Portland, is a member of the Molleur Law Office, a bankruptcy and consumer rights firm based in Portland and Biddeford. She calls her work with individuals and small business owners facing financial crisis “very rewarding.”?
“It’s great helping people reorganize and start fresh in ways they didn’t think possible,” she said.
Illness, divorce and job loss all give rise to bankruptcy, says Sambatakos, adding that small businesses can be just as susceptible as individuals.
“Even if it’s an LLC, usually there’s a sole member,” she said. “If customers aren’t buying, then they’re stretching to pay their bills. It’s hard to break out of it once you’re behind,” she said.
Sambatakos joined the firm straight out of Suffolk University Law School in 2006; she studied business entrepreneurship as a Babson College undergraduate.
“I like the business side,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do this.”
Representing individuals and small businesses who owe money to enormous corporate creditors isn’t necessarily a David and Goliath scenario, she says.
“The bankruptcy code is pretty specific. The debtor is protected even if they’re up against a big Bank of America. They still have to play by the rules. It puts them on more equal footing,” she said.
And equal footing is what Sambatakos is all about. Indeed, she has taken her commitment to improving family and business finances beyond the confines of her office and bankruptcy court and onto building sites. A board member of Habitat for Humanity in Portland, she is part of an effort to choose families for three homes under construction in Freeport.
“The town of Freeport is really supportive,” she said. Indeed the town sold enough land to Habitat for Humanity to permit the ultimate construction of eight homes, she said.
“It’s such a great experience,” she said. “We give the homeowner a mortgage that we hold at zero percent interest.”
Mortgage payments are determined according to the family’s income, and include principal, insurance and taxes, as well as home repair funds, she said.
“I’ve gone on the job site and our office has, too,” she said. “I’ve gotten to see things at all levels.”
While Sambatakos spends most of her time helping individuals face financial challenges, she has embarked on a challenge of her own: running six half-marathons in six months. She’s taken care of July and August, and the Maine Half-Marathon on Sept. 30 takes care of that month.
“It’s a goal. It keeps me going,” she said.
Whatever keeps her going -– the work, the running, even her dog and two cats – Sambatakos’s efforts have ensured that many struggling Mainers are now getting going themselves.