Choosing a Foreclosure Defense Lawyer
When I started doing foreclosure defense back in 2008, not many lawyers were practicing in that area of law. Today, there are hundreds. Just as with any field of work, there are some lawyers who know what they’re doing and others who, well … not so much.
Deciding who to retain as counsel in your foreclosure may seem like a daunting task. If you received dozens of advertisements in the mail, it may seem impossible to choose one.
Here are some things I recommend you think about as you figure out who you want to act as your foreclosure defense attorney.
1. Duration of experience. Has this lawyer been representing homeowners in foreclosure for years? Or months? How many cases has he/she handled?
2. Depth of experience. Is this lawyer fighting through trial and appeal? Or is the lawyer going to withdraw as trial approaches, as his/her lack of experience causes him to shy away from a trial? How many trials has that lawyer attended?
3. Results. Has this lawyer ever won a trial? Ever had a case dismissed? Ever won a summary judgment for a homeowner? How many?
4. Which lawyer will handle the case? I’ve seen some foreclosure defense firms which advertise/market like crazy, but I know darn well the guy you see on TV isn’t the guy who will handle your case.
5. Fees. Does the lawyer bill by the hour? Monthly? yearly? Are there extra fees charged based on results?
Since I posed the questions, here’s how I’d answer them with respect to myself:
1. I’ve represented many thousands of homeowners in foreclosure since 2008.
2. I’ve litigated foreclosure lawsuits from inception through trial and appeal. I’ve attended dozens of trials for Florida homeowners and I’ve been counsel in a few published appellate decisions. The Second District’s decision in Correa not only dismissed a foreclosure case, it created new law for homeowners to use in future cases.
3. I’m approaching 500 cases that I’ve had dismissed. I don’t typically talk about this publicly, as I don’t want anyone to be misled into believing their foreclosure case is likely to be dismissed simply because I’ve had a lot of cases dismissed in the past. Dismissal is almost always possible, but almost never certain. There are a number of factors that impact whether dismissal will happen in a given case, and often those factors are outside of my control.
Colleagues in the industry see my number of dismissals as an impossibly high figure, but it’s true. This is my life’s passion, to help as many homeowners as possible by getting as many of their lawsuits dismissed as possible.
The reasons for these dismissals run the gamut, from insufficient evidence presented at trial, to defensive summary judgments granted, to pleading defects, plaintiffs’ failure to comply with orders, etc.
I firmly believe, in my heart of hearts, that I’m the best there is at defending these cases and getting them dismissed. I’d like to think that’s why I’ve obtained referrals from existing clients, other lawyers, judges, plaintiffs’ lawyers, secretaries at plaintiffs’ firms, process servers, bailiffs, court reporters, and others in the industry.
4. I can’t handle every hearing myself. However, my staff and I work diligently to ensure I handle the most important hearings/trials myself. If I’m not able to attend, I ensure another, capable attorney is able to do so.
Often, the firms that advertise for foreclosure defense the most are the ones who care the least about the work they perform in court.
That’s why I encourage everyone to go to court and watch.
You want to decide who to retain as counsel? Go sit in your local foreclosure courtroom some day. Watch the hearings. Watch the lawyers. I’m regularly asked for a business card from bystanders in court. Remember, these are public courtrooms, so you’re perfectly entitled to go watch.
5. My firm generally charges by the year. There are exceptions, and the fees can vary, but I’m confident our fees are the lowest in the industry among those who are capable defenders.
On many occasions, my colleagues have pushed me to charge more, arguing I don’t charge enough for the services I provide. That approach just isn’t for me. I want to charge as little as possible to help as many people as possible, particularly those who otherwise could not afford it.
Hopefully this gives you some insight on the things to be looking for and the questions to ask in your search for a foreclosure defense attorney.