Archive for March 15th, 2011

Distinguishing High Volume and Shoddy Practice

Stopa Law Firm has handled several hundred foreclosure cases since 2008.  Given my experiences before numerous judges throughout Florida in a wide variety of settings (many of which have been documented on this blog), it’s rare that I see something that makes my jaw drop.  But when I read this transcript from Judge Maxine Cohen Lando in Dade County (Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit), that’s just what happened.  Wow.  Just … wow.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that this transcript surprises me.  It’s that a judge has finally said all of the things I’ve been thinking for so long.  FINALLY!  A judge calls out a foreclosure mill for their shoddy practices. 

Look, my firm can be considered a high-volume practice, so I say with experience and certainty that there’s nothing inherently wrong with a high-volume practice.  Lots of law firms do it.  Many personal injury firms are high-volume.  This is actually quite common.  However, as Judge Lando indicated, regardless of the size of a lawyer’s caseload, that lawyer still has the obligation to diligently represent all clients.  Personally, I pride myself on the pleadings filed by Stopa Law Firm, be it in foreclosure cases or other cases.  Indisputably, a high-volume practice is not a justification to file garbage before the Court or to mislead the court with factually incorrect arguments. 

Let’s put it this way.  It’s one thing for a lawyer to tell the court the sky is blue.  Many times, that’s true.  But it’s another thing for a lawyer to tell the court the sky is blue without taking two seconds to look outside and see it’s midnight and raining.  And that’s often what happens with foreclosure mills – they make presumptions that are sometimes true but are often unwarranted, if not totally false.  Given their volume, they proceed full speed ahead anyway, even with the false presumptions.  What results is, at best, shoddy paperwork and, at worst, fraud.  The transcript I’ve attached is a wonderful illustration of this. 

In my practice, I’ve witnessed this conduct time and time again.  With regularity, I see foreclosure lawyers for the banks not attend duly-noticed hearings (without cancelling them), fail to return phone calls, fail to respond to settlement offers, etc.  I see court filings that are so gross/deficient that I’d be embarassed to have to go into court and argue them.  But the mills justify their actions by saying they’re a “high volume practice.” 

There are many things I liked about this transcript, but that’s what I liked most.  Judge Lando realizes that a high caseload does not justify shoddy practice, and she called out the bank’s lawyer for not recognizing the difference.   I can only hope other Florida judges follow her example (and start issuing appropriate sanctions when the foreclosure mills fail to take heed).

Mark Stopa

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