TIME Magazine has a great story by Tim Padgett on UM's Foreclosure Fellowships, Another Housing Crisis: A Shortage of Foreclosure Lawyers.
Nice quotes from Yolanda Paschal, one of our great Fellows, from Carolina Lombardi, a senior attorney at Legal Services of Greater Miami Inc., and a few words from me. I'm glad that our program is getting some recognition. As the article says, the foreclosure defense problem is enormous, the legal resources available are puny compared to the need, and we at the law school are trying to do something about it.
Whether and how we can repeat this year's effort, however, still depends on what sort of funding we can raise for it. Fund raising is very very tough in the current economic climate. Our current plan is to shift away from giving fellowships to graduates and instead ramp up on a student-staffed housing-related clinic that might even be housed downtown. In a perfect world, I'd like to do both the clinic and the graduate Fellowships, but the funding is not yet in hand to make that possible.
Incidentally, the legal defense for borrowers that I mentioned in the the TIME article — that parties foreclosing sometimes don't actually know who owns the note — is featured in a column in today's NYT, Gretchen Morgenson's If Lenders Say 'The Dog Ate Your Mortgage'. In other cases there are different meritorious defenses, but it takes a trained person to identify them. And then no doubt there are the cases where people really will lose their homes no matter what you do; the point is to figure out which case is which rather than just give up. And that takes a lawyer.