By: T. Kelley – Sentinel News [excerpt]
Few, if any, get praise or glory for helping homeowners and consumers. Its tough work and people like to whine endlessly about bad treatment often with no resolution that satisfies. Usually the consumer activists get all the newspaper ink and occasionally,a few politicians when they have the fortitude to take a stand against business corruption.
Recently, the issue of mortgage crisis management and litigation servicing arose across my editor’s desk. “The attorneys won’t help anyone without a $5000 retainer if a homeowner needs to save his home through litigation. Who can afford that?” The
unanimous response in the room was “No one can.” Sadly, few options existed. If you can’t afford a lawyer to whom do you turn? We offer one significant solution to the question. We stumbled across a business that may help called Consumer Rights Defenders recently voted #1 in customer satisfaction on a survey of home-
owner advocate groups. The owners who are retired attorneys told us confidentiality,”The public can’t afford high priced suits to do their work. They need help without some firm charging an arm and a leg.” They take
about 30-40 foreclosure related calls a day and have staff of 8 including 3 paralegals and 4 typists and one overseeing contracted attorney to review documents as needed. From what we saw, they are getting it done.
The cost of CRD’s services is a fraction of the going medium law firm pricing.
“We have about 75 active files in various stages of development that are mostly in pro se, lawyer-speak for without an attorney. We rely on data bases of publicly available but obscurely located information that some very successful firms have donated to us in addition to our own research in helping the pro se’s [and lawyers, if they ask for help] defend against crooked business practices,” says Steve Nelson the director of CRD consumer advocacy department and a 30 year paralegal himself. “CRD helps the public target the banks mostly when they try to foreclose. Our pro se’s have about a eighty seven percent success rate in stopping sales nationwide,
“A little insight goes along way to stop foreclosures that are unjustified,” Nelson says. “Alot of people
read blogs but no one except skilled professions know how to put the issues before a judge. That is where we can help them,” he said. “We do the same work for attorneys that we offer our unrepresented customers.”
Statistics indicate a troubling trend. Even the attorneys who really do know how to litigate, sadly don’t understand real estate and secured transactions law well enough to forge a lawsuit or restraing order that will pass
muster. CRD, while not a law firm, has the skills to direct their customers so that they can have a fair chance at stopping a foreclosure or other type of consumer oriented claim. Nelson, a former civil rights and consumer advocate says, “It is a very disheartening state of affairs that attorney’s won’t take cases that they can win or at least litigate to a settlement conference.
With the next salvo of foreclosures looming nationwide, Consumer Rights Defenders is perhaps the only organization that can fill a long overdue gap between the courts and available legal services. They can be reached and offer free consultations by calling 818-453-3585.