Consumers are bombarded with information regarding available mortgage relief programs and how to find legitimate legal representation they can trust. Most of the “loan modification” companies have been eliminated by both state and federal legislation which prohibit “non-attorney” representation for distressed homeowners. Accordingly, consumers should feel safe as long as they are getting assistance from a law firm, right? Well, not exactly. Not all “law firms” are the same, and the differences in the services they offer can mean the difference between saving your home with affordable payments and losing it to foreclosure.
These days, many “law firms” that are helping homeowners are nothing more than loan modification processing centers operating under an attorney’s supervision. The vast majority of the case work is performed by the attorney’s staff, usually retrained mortgage underwriters, while the actual attorney has little involvement in the process. So, how can consumers distinguish the difference between top shelf foreclosure defense attorney representation and a loan modification company disguised as a “law firm”?
The first rule of thumb is simple; read the retainer agreement to verify that attorney functions are included in the representation. This should include answering complaints, filing motions and counter-claims, and representing you at hearings and mediation. Many of the imitations use a “Pre-litigation” agreement with a very limited scope of service. In other words, they will not perform any functions beyond the basic functions of negotiating a loan modification with your lender. If the lender is unwilling to work with them, they simply will not have the resources to formulate a skilled legal defense to protect your interests during a foreclosure. This becomes especially problematic in a judicial foreclosure state where foreclosures are handled through the court system. Lastly, make sure that the firm you are working with has an attorney that is both licensed to practice law in your state and in good standing with your state’s Bar Association.
Top shelf foreclosure defense attorney representation will include answering complaints and motions, filing counter-claims and motions, attending hearings and mediation on your behalf, and defending your rights and interests during the entire negotiation process.
Equally important is the initial review of your case before considering any agreement for services. An ethical foreclosure defense attorney will want to review the detailed facts of your situation to determine the viability of your case. In this way, your attorney can determine the likelihood of achieving success in reaching your desired outcome, before considering an agreement for services.
So, you should only hire an attorney that can answer “Yes” to the following questions:
1.) Are you licensed to practice law in (your state) and in good standing with the state bar?
2.) If my lender files for foreclosure through the court system, will you be answering the complaint and making an appearance on my behalf in necessary?
3.) Will you be responding to all matters involving the court, including timely filings of answers and motions?
4.) Will you appear on my behalf for any mediation hearings that I am required to attend?
5.) Will you fight to represent my interests until we have reached a lasting solution?
6.) Will you need to review my case information before making a decision to represent me?
If the attorney you are considering can answer “yes” to all of these questions, you are probably dealing with a firm that offers top notch legal representation and not just another loan modification company. These days, people need the best representation available when it comes to protecting their homes. Choosing the right foreclosure defense attorney can be the difference between keeping your home and losing it to foreclosure.