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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Can Lawyers Make a Living in the Foreclosure Crisis?


By Robert Sheppard, Sheppard, Uziel, Sussman & Rosen


Can lawyers make a living in the foreclosure crisis of the last few years? That question was addressed at a BASF seminar on November 16, 2011 put on by the Real Property Section, now available on DVD. The consensus was that lawyers work in this field, though it is an area of law practice fraught with challenges and problems for both lawyers and their clients alike.

This seminar, titled “How to (Can you) Make a Living Representing Clients in Foreclosures?” featured Pamela Simmons of the Law Office of Simmons & Purdy in Soquel, Shannon B. Jones of the Shannon B. Jones Law Group in Danville, Tiffany R. Norman of TRN Law Associates in San Francisco and Ron Arlas of Wright, Finlay & Zak in Kentfield.

This seminar helps lawyers appreciate the importance of having their clients understand all of the choices and potential consequences of letting their homes go into foreclosure. The panelists address ways to avoid many of the common problems arising in foreclosures and how these problems can be avoided by good planning and wise legal counseling.

The seminar further aids lawyers in determining how to best advocate for their clients, while protecting themselves and making sure the lawyers get paid. The seminar also addresses practical ways a lawyer can generate fees when their clients are facing foreclosure.

The seminar presented a primer/prima facie review on how the foreclosure process works, the gravity and scope of the current foreclosure crisis, different approaches by lawyers in helping borrowers, giving clients scripts to negotiate a loan modification on their own, sending clients an opinion letter with advice, helping clients with “short sales,” “deeds in lieu” and why banks resist these, the kinds of litigation cases being brought, dealing with wrongful foreclosures (lender’s promise to stop the foreclosure, and then foreclosing on the house), stopping/delaying foreclosure, injunctions, recent appellate cases, the Fair Debt Collection Act, and Fair Credit reporting violations, how lawyers get paid, the prohibition against lawyers receiving an advance fee for loan modification work under Civil Code §§ 2944.6 and 2944.8, avoiding too much “pro bono” work, getting clients to pay for a loan analysis, and why clients should do so, the Lender’s Perspective and Recent Trends, when a client is a candidate for bankruptcy and how to avoid client bankruptcy, and tax consequences including debt forgiveness as income.


Robert J. Sheppard is the Chair of BASF’s Real Property Section.

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