Archive for April 5th, 2011

A Ray of Hope from an Unlikely Source

Earlier today, I had a unique opportunity to speak with a former attorney of one of Florida’s big foreclosure mills.  He was a young lawyer, like most of the mill attorneys, but this attorney was different.  He was on his own, looking for work. 

As a prospective employer, you can imagine my concerns about the possibility of hiring a former attorney from a foreclosure mill.  Why did he leave?  What bad habits did he learn?  What unethical behavior did he participate in? 

Then, something incredible happened.  This young attorney explained how he left this foreclosure mill – voluntarily – because the mill insisted that he engage in conduct that he deemed unethical.  In particular, the firm wanted him to prosecute foreclosure cases with paperwork he knew to be faulty, and he wasn’t willing to do it.

Before you ask, no, I’m not going to “out” this lawyer by naming him or the firm.  That’s his place, if he so chooses, not mine.  However, I will say:

1.  For many months, I’ve been opining that none of the mills are different than Stern; the only difference is that Stern got caught.  This is another illustration of that.

2.  It’s absolutely reprehensible to me that the foreclosure mills are putting young lawyers in this position.  It’s disgusting, really.  It’s the job – the responsibility – of more experienced lawyers to counsel young lawyers and mold them for the future.  To encourage, much less require, a lawyer to use fraudulent evidence to prosecute a case is appalling. 

3.  As disgusted as I am with this mill, I’m that encouraged with this lawyer.  Kudos to him.  To leave a job iin a bad economy, not having another job lined up … good for you.  You’ll go far in this profession.

As for other, young lawyers who are heeding the instructions of their bosses at the foreclosure mills to use fraudulent evidence, you need to think about your future.  Yes, everyone needs a paycheck.  But you’ll be a lawyer for 30-40 years if you play your cards right.   If you practice law the right way, it can be a rewarding, enriching experience for the rest of your life.  If you continue on the path you’re on, you jeopardize everything you’ve worked for, denigrating the entire profession along the way. 

For now, though, I thank the lawyer who left the foreclosure mill; you’re a ray of hope in a terrible storm.  You’re an example to all young lawyers, particularly those at the foreclosure mills who are routinely being told to engage in unethical conduct.  Thank you for showing everyone the right way to respond to such appalling misconduct.

Mark Stopa

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