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WSJ Blames Evil Consumer Lawyers

posted by Alan White

Although the Wall Street Journal has provided some excellent coverage of the foreclosure crisis, this story by Robbie Whelan (via Naked Capitalism rebuttal) is pure drivel.  The ludicrous premise is that a coterie of clever consumer lawyers have contrived to keep deadbeat homeowners out of foreclosure by raising silly technicalities.  Never mind that the case used as an illustration involved a homeowner whose timely payments were improperly refused by GMAC Mortgage, and whose dispute is still in litigation. 

While I try, not always successfully, to provide dispassionate commentary about the foreclosure crisis, these attacks on the legal services lawyers and private practitioners who I know well make my blood boil.  These lawyers are the heroes of this crisis.  They are devoting countless hours not only to finding fraudulent affidavits, but also and more importantly to decoding servicer payment histories, endlessly resubmitting modification paperwork, trying to enforce bankruptcy plans, and getting servicers to acknowledge their own shockingly frequent errors.  Most of these consumer lawyers earn far less than their counterparts in the foreclosure mills and white shoe firms who are obsequiously protesting that banks can do no wrong. 

I know of not a single consumer lawyer who has any interest in representing a homeowner who is unwilling or unable to make payments.  Many homeowners are in foreclosure due entirely to servicer errors, such as double charging for insurance or misapplying payments.  Hundreds of thousands of homeowners in foreclosure not only want to pay but are paying in temporary HAMP and other plans right now.  They just want someone at their mortgage company to listen, and to accept their payments and get them out of foreclosure.  Modifications, contrary to popular belief, almost never involve ANY forgiveness of debt.  At best, modifications are giving them a temporary reduction in interest rates.  Our debtors are not even asking to be forgiven, they are simply asking to be heard before their homes are taken.  Now that the Attorneys General, and even the Cabinet and the media, are listening, the WSJ wants to shoot the messengers.   

The foreclosure crisis is a result of banks and Wall Street making and buying loans that were poorly underwritten.  It is being made worse month after month due to massive servicer (i.e. Big Bank) inability either to work out salvageable loans or to transfer and foreclose mortgages properly.  Hats off to the consumer lawyers who are comforting the afflicted while the Journal comforts the comfortable. 

Thanks to Bob and Credit Slips for the extended invitation.  I promise to keep CL&P cross-posts like this to a minimimum!




i disagree with "the Wall Street Journal has provided some excellent coverage of the foreclosure crisis"...the WSJ has had the worst coverage of any online news source, and has been out performed by yves & several other blogs...

Agreed. Yves' coverage has been excellent. Her brief (10-minute) explanation on BNN is a great primer. WSJ has been tracking developments, I'll give them that. But their slant has been very much on display and op-ed has been a horror show.


Taken verbatim from a Craigslist ad on October 15, 2010 -

"Were you or are you now being foreclosed on by the bank? Have they followed all of the proper steps? Many banks are in trouble for failing to follow the legal steps required to foreclose on a home. We will review your foreclosure documents free of charge to see if you may have a case against the bank or mortgage company. Call now for a free consultation and see if the bank owes you money!"

The name and number of a law firm follows.

There are many excellent consumer lawyers out there trying to do the right thing. But there are also a lot of generally bad attorneys who are trying to jump on the bandwagon to see if they can make a quick buck.

"I know of not a single consumer lawyer who has any interest in representing a homeowner who is unwilling or unable to make payments." So, a foreclosure defendant who cannot make payments and almost certainly not ultimately be able to save the house should not be permitted to defend? Not even to raise wrong-party or false-evidence issues? Not even to protect against the risk of suit by another party later? This consumer lawyer does not agree with, or even understand, the position that you attribute unanimously to his colleagues.

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