The Unity Council's Homeownership Center has several hundred clients who are in trouble with their mortgages. The good news is the Oakland center also has $250,000 from the federal government to spend on contract attorneys to help guide those clients through the legal morass that is foreclosure.
An occasional look at where to find work in this so-called economy.
Sheri Powers, director of the non-profit community development group's home ownership center, said the money comes through the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program set up back in December 2007. The first round in 2008 went just to foreclosure prevention counseling, but Powers said the center wasn’t quiet about its unmet needs. "We were complaining so much that so many of our clients really needed legal counsel, they heard us and built in another part of the funding that was just for legal services," Powers said.
What Powers needs, after the jump.
Now she’s looking for lawyers who know the ins and outs of family law, bankruptcy, tax law and other areas that intersect with the foreclosure process. "We're looking for experienced attorneys who have an ability to synthesize it for the common person," Powers said, adding that no litigation is involved. "It's really about the education."
Powers said it would be great, too, if candidates knew a bit about human nature and could deal even-handedly with banks on one end and crisis-stricken homeowners on the other. “When I call a servicer on behalf of a client, I don’t call all upset and outraged,” Powers said as an example. “When they hear that you understand what their position is, they're much more willing to help.”
So far, three small East Bay law firms have stepped up. One will be handling escalations with Bank of America, making calls to jump-start stalled mortgage modification proposals.
To stretch the grant, the center can pay a maximum of $500 per client, and is contracting with attorneys on a billable hour basis. Needless to say, they're hoping for discount rates.
— Petra Pasternak