6 Key Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Forclosure Attorney

The 2008 financial crash put a lot of people out of work. It hurt business owners, emptied personal savings, destroyed American home values and lead to massive foreclosures.

What Many Homeowners Don’t Know

The crony network of big banks, financial institutions, government, politicians, the courts, and their corporately owned media have used propaganda, lies and spin doctors to convince Americans that naïve and greedy homeowners crashed the global credit markets in 2008.

They blamed the crash and current economic chaos on homeowners who bought too much house. Yes, some mortgagers made some people believe they could buy more home then they could afford. However, the blame here is often misleading.

Why? Obscene broker commissions were a big part of originating mortgages. Banks were on a tear to bundle, securitize, sell and re-sell mortgages. It lead to irregular mortgage practices.

The bigger truth has been revealed that there are no mortgages to back the mortgage-backed securities. Thus former treasury secretary Hank Paulson told taxpayers, “We must bail the banks out, or else everything will collapse.”

Iceland Let Their Banks Collapse

In fact, Iceland arrested the financial offenders and put in actual safeguards to restore the capital markets and consumer confidence. We in America got the toothless Dodd-Frank bill that makes it appear legislators are minding the store.

Banking and the financial industry needed major reforms. Instead, after the Wall Street financial crash our American banks actually got 38% BIGGER!

Too Big to Fail and Too Big to Jail

Today banks are bigger than before the economic crash and the Dodd-Frank bill does nothing significant to keep Wall Street from trashing the economy again.

Insanity is doing the same thing you’ve been doing but expecting a different result.

Fast forward and today, these quasi-patriotic cronies continue the lies and prop up the fraud on the taxpayer’s dime. They brazenly continue to cover up their partners’ crimes while still receiving a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers without impunity.

Can You Name One Banker That Went to Jail?

By the way, in 2008 that 800 billion dollar bail out has turned into trillions out the back door of the Federal Reserve straight into bank coufers.

What few Americans realize is that crony capitalists who fleeced institutional investors out of $17+ Trillion, clouded the title on all the mortgages they originated and supposedly sold on the secondary market.

They stole our pension money, wiped out savings and now they’re still after your home. In fact, more than 4.9 million homeowners were foreclosed since the Wall Street crash and there’s more on the way.

American’s need help staying in their home. If the banks and servicers won’t deliver then where do homeowners turn for guidance through this financial maze of fraud and corruption?

Many are programmed to think, “Lawyer, that’s what I need to stand up for me, to sort out the fraud, to keep my family from being kicked into the streets.”

Are Lawyers Best Suited to Standup For Homeowners?

As Americans we’ve been conditioned to believe that the only people who can help us navigate, legal matters are lawmakers and attorneys. Fortunately, in the realm of foreclosure law, there are a few good ones.

However, when it comes to ferreting out truth or fraud in your foreclosure, few attorneys (Real Estate attorneys included) are equipped or have any desire to fight as hard as a regular educated homeowner.

It’s a fact that no one will ever care more about saving your home than you. If staying in your home is not all that important, then most attorneys will do. But buyers beware.

How Do You Choose the Right Lawyer in Foreclosure Matters?

I’ve personally talked with hundreds upon hundreds of homeowners all across America who routinely pay from $1,000 to $30,000+ in attorney’s fees plus monthly retainers and still loose their home. This is more common than you’d think.

I ask homeowners, “What was the attorneys strategy? Was it to help you buy time until you are evicted or actually stay in your home?”

Many homeowners had not thought the end game through. How often do we hire attorneys? There are no Consumer Reports on America’s best foreclosure strategies, fighting bank fraud or attorneys.

Most Americans are busy trying to make a living, caring for loved ones, keeping their heads above water and would rather avoid the legal realms. Who can blame them?

So, unless new information is introduced it makes perfect sense that many homeowners don’t know what to ask to hire an attorney or figure out what makes one effective over the next.

When it comes to defending your home, the following basic questions will get most homeowners started.

The following six questions came from an interview with Justin James. He is the founder of The Foreclosure Relief Network, a company dedicated to helping homeowners stand up for their legal rights.

The company with its network of private investigators, paralegals and law firm was developed to educate and arm the American consumer with the information necessary to protect families and property against the unlawful actions of banks.

Mr. James emphasizes that “Every homeowner who suspects mortgage fraud or are in foreclosure or about to be, needs to be educated.

They need to know upfront if an attorney will work on your behalf or instead see you as a tool to collect fees while they stall things off in court. By asking these basic but key questions, this is knowable.”

You want to interview an attorney just like you would choose a doctor, dentist, CPA or a contractor to work on your home. You want a good fit.

Write Your Questions Down

Mr. James suggests that before you phone or visit an attorney in person, have your questions written down and refer to them.

6 Key Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Attorney to Get a Modification or Defend Your Home Against Banks

  1. Do you feel that the banks and their servicers commit mortgage security and/or foreclosure fraud? (Yes) Correct answer.
  2. Do you believe that if a bank shows up with a piece of paper that alleges it’s the original Note-do you still believe there’s a chance of winning court? (Yes)
  3. Are you willing to challenge the banks claim of ownership of the note, mortgage, chain of title, etc.? (Yes)
  4. Are you willing to cross exam a witnesses? (Yes)
  5. Will you challenge and call a robo-signer as a witness? (Yes)
  6. Are you willing to be that attorney at the party that went up against the big bankers or challenged a court that seems to lean in favor of big banks? (Yes)

If you get so much as one “no” to the above questions then be aware, your situation may be at cross-purposes with this particular attorney.

To the few that are actually competent and not bluffing their way into your back pocket, these basic but telling questions are not difficult to answer.

Other than the details of your situation, each question does not require you as homeowner to expound any further. Either they know it or they don’t. Either they believe banks can do no wrong or believe in justice for homeowners.

When to Walk Away

Bottom line is that if the attorney interviewed is…

  • Not comfortable breaking down your chain of title if necessary
  • Does not believe the bank is ever wrong about a note or mortgage
  • Not willing to challenge the bank or the courts
  • Not willing to cross examine a witness…

Then why are you there? Why should they take your money? Don’t give them a dime Pack your bags and find another attorney or other expert to interview. Consider…

Who’s Paying Your Bill?

You are paying the attorney for a service. You wouldn’t go into a car dealership and say…

“I’ve got $400 a month to spend on a vehicle. Just give me whatever you got to drive.”

You’d be surprised how many people would accept poor treatment when it comes to attorneys. Why?

Because some homeowners are intimated and think, the lawyer knows more. That’s usually true about civil law matters. That’s when a good educated attorney makes sense.

But when it comes to foreclosure, commercial law and challenging the banks-think again. I would challenge you to think outside the box.

Defend Yourself? Really?

Others will say, “YES BUT you can’t defend yourself against fraud or a foreclosing bank. You must have an attorney.” Many homeowners felt that way in the beginning. However…

We now know plenty of average homeowners who’ve been educated and succeeded with the guidance of companies like The Foreclosure Relief Network.

But, what few homeowners at first realize is that attorneys are not traditionally schooled in banking and finance.

In fact, I’ve interviewed some well informed average homeowners who educate their attorneys.

You Deserve to Know What You are Getting for Your Time and Money

If your prospective attorney is the real deal, they will understand your need to interview. That’s why it’s important to know…

  • What does the attorney actually believe about banks and foreclosure?
  • Make them lay their cards on the table. Time is of essence.

You simply want to insure that you are investing your energy and money wisely into a winning strategy and NOT prolonging what many attorneys feel is an inevitable foreclosure.

It’s a little known fact that if you, as a homeowner are educated and have a complete and correct strategy then foreclosure is NOT always inevitable.

Follow The Money

If you hire an attorney that did not adequately answer these questions, then be advised you, your family and your home may be taken for a professional ride.

According to Mr. James extensive experience with homeowners, banks and courts across America, rare is the attorney who will answer your call, who will fight banks on behalf of your homeowner and constitutional rights.

Most attorneys will not intentionally do you harm because they genuinely believe what they believe. That banks can do no wrong is just part of their many years of education and training.

As important, attorneys take an oath to protect corporations. It’s what they do.

That said… put yourself in the attorney’s shoes for just a minute. They have a lot of competition. A title, though impressive is no guarantee of success. They are businessmen and women and for many economic times are tough like many homeowners.

Yes, attorneys enjoy a measure of prestige but that doesn’t pay the bills. Like you and I, they have to make a living or find a way to survive. Just make sure it’s not at your expense.

Who Has More Money? Influence?

A homeowner called Mr. James and was livid because he spent over $7,500 on an attorney who believed that his counsel had defected to the bank side.

Even with documented fraud (common today) as the centerpiece of his defense against the bank, this homeowner lost his home.

The homeowner asks, “Who’s got more money here? The Big American Bank or me as homeowner?”

Do you think you’ll ever see this homeowner’s story on the evening news? It’s not likely. Remember who owns and controls media, advertising and reporting.

Of course I don’t expect you to believe any of this. Check it out for yourself.

Bank Walks Away

Speaking of a good homeowner story, while working on this article one of Mr. James clients called about Quiet Title action which forces a bank to produce valid documents.

The banks have to prove they have ownership before they can foreclose. In today’s heavily securtized financial system that’s more and more difficult for banks to validate unless they manufacture documents from thin air. This is known as robo-signing and yes, it’s illegal.

Gary is out of the Midwest. He applied several times for a modification and then found himself in foreclosure. He suspected bank fraud. Gary began looking and found a young and hungry attorney out of law school.

The attorney had not yet adopted “a bank can do no wrong” attitude. However, the first hurdle was overcoming this attorney’s lack of knowledge on foreclosure fraud, banking and securitization, etc.

Remember few attorneys have this profound knowledge, seek it out or even believe it’s possible to help a homeowner to win. It’s not taught in law school.

To compensate, Gary began working with Mr. James to gain the education, knowledge, legal templates and strategies. This also saved him thousands of dollars in attorney’s research fees.

Gary reported that his homework paid off and the bank walked away. Finding a lawyer willing to listen was the exception in this case. However, keep in mind that…

The Courts Are Available to All Homeowners

Remember, you as an American citizen have constitutional rights.

An attorney is not the only way to stand your ground against bad behaving banks. In fact there are far more effective strategies homeowners can and do take every day.

The majority of homeowners do not realize that with the right kind of education they can in fact represent themselves in court. It’s referred to as Pro Se’, a petitioner or simply an American citizen. Often it’s an effective option. Here’s why.

The fact is that the courts cannot hold a regular homeowner to the same standard as they do lawyers. It turns out that with an effective strategy, presented properly, defending yourself against banks often leads to settlements.

Mr. James reports that he sees it everyday and as the courts become more educated, the tides are shifting in favor of homeowners.

Some homeowners combine the idea of Pro Se’ (without an attorney) along with private mortgage investigations to uncover irregularities that stop foreclosures.

Bottom Line-Trust Your Gut

Remind yourself that if your home is worth defending then no one will ever fight for your home like you can.

After interviewing the attorney, if you can’t say yes, then SAY NO FOR NOW.

Keep looking. If the attorney doesn’t feel right-move on. There are viable alternatives. Do your homework.

Finally, if you have a compelling enough why and are willing to do a little legwork, then there are resources that can help you to learn how to stay in your home and prevail even without an attorney.

Starting a Law Firm – What’s in a Name?

When I started my law firm I was confronted with many choices. What kind of law will I practice? Where will I practice? Who do I want for clients? What kind of fees will I charge? It wasn’t until I actually got into the planning stages of the law firm that I began to see these questions as more big picture, firm philosophy type of questions. These type of questions may never be fully answered because they are not static.

One big picture question that is static and that can have a profound effect on the success of your firm is its name. What’s in a name? A lot if you think about it. Think about your own name for starters. What if you had been named something different? What if you were a boy and had been given a girls name? What if you were born in a particular religion and were given a name not associated with that religion? Have you ever been to a place where for some reason your name was looked down upon? These same types of feelings can be encountered with your law firm name.

The great thing about starting a law firm is that you get to think about this and plan ahead. If you are starting a law firm and are reading this article, you are probably either fairly young, fairly technologically proficient, or both. If you are, then you can probably see that the face and structure of the practice of law are shifting gradually beneath everyone’s feet. Competition is fierce, and image is everything. And guess what, one of the first things people will learn about you, something they will probably use to form an opinion about you before they even meet you, is your firm name.

When naming your law firm there are some things you should think about to make sure you are maximizing that first impression. First, don’t use your name. Second, it should be easy to remember. And finally, it should make people feel and think the way you want them to feel and think about your law firm. Although this may seem easy, when you actually try to do it, I think you’ll find it is a pretty tough exercise.

Some you are probably thinking, “why not use your name? Everyone else does.” That is precisely why. Although people have different goals, if you are starting a law firm, one of those goals is probably to make money practicing law. You make money by having people sign up for your services. People sign up for your services when they know who you are. Why blend in with everyone else when you can set yourself apart? Not only does not using your name allow you to present an image in prospective client’s minds, it allows you to build the brand you want. A great example of this is Valorem Law Group. If you look at their website a central theme is discarding the billable hour to provide clients value for what they are being paid. If you don’t already know, valorem is latin for value (loosely). Do you see the jump start you can get on the competition with a good name?

Second, easy to remember. This is practical for obvious reasons. If people refer your services to friends or colleagues, what is easier to remember, Valorem Law Group or Smith, Sands, Zaremba, Charles, Flippy and Jagermeister? Make your name easy to remember and you make it easier to get business – a key when starting a law firm.

Finally, the brand. When you start your own law firm you start out as the brand. At all times you are promoting your practice, you are what your practice stands for. But before anyone knows what you are all about, you can start them down the right track with a great name that represents the firm philosophy. A strong, powerful, confident name can make the difference in someone choosing to call you. It can also mask your size. “The law firm of Joe Shmoe” implies that you are a small firm. Like it or not many people associate small firm size with poor performance or cheap services. Look bigger than you are immediately by having a firm name that connotes structure, organization, and numbers.

Had A Car Accident – Do You Need A Car Accident Lawyer?

A car accident isn’t just a physical trauma – it can be a huge financial and legal burden as well, especially if you don’t have knowledgeable legal help in your time of need. Whether the car accident was your fault or not, it’s a good idea to get in touch with someone who can help you through the difficult and often confusing time that follows an auto accident.

So, what is a car accident lawyer?

A car accident lawyer is an attorney that helps to level the legal playing field after a car accident by informing you of your rights and responsibilities, and providing information on personal injury law and accident claims. Some circumstances surrounding a car accident require that a lawyer be involved, simply because of the complexity of dealing with the issue.

For instance, if you or anyone in your car was injured in the car accident, particularly if there is a permanent injury or an injury that results in lost income from work or lost time at school, a lawyer can help to recover some of these damages by filing a claim against the party responsible for the injuries.

The help of a lawyer should also be sought after a car accident if:

oThe car accident has resulted in an injury, particularly a serious injury such as broken bones or any other injury that will require hospitalization.

oThere has been a death resulting from the car accident.

oThe official police report appears to not accurately represent the car accident and its circumstances – particularly if the report puts you at fault.

oThe car accident occurred in a construction area.

oThe car accident involved bystanders or pedestrians.

oYour liability insurance will not cover the entirety of the damages.

oYou have no insurance.

oYour insurance company brings it their own lawyer. If this happens, immediate legal help should be found. It’s an emergency.

But an injury isn’t the only reason to contact a lawyer after a car accident. While a car accident such as a fender bender that doesn’t result in much damage probably doesn’t require a lawyer, a more complicated accident with more damage may require the help of a lawyer to navigate the murky waters of insurance claims, police reports, and liability.

In order to help your case, it is important that you not wait to seek the help of a lawyer and file a claim. Waiting too long to begin legal action might keep you from receiving the compensation that you deserve. Statutes of Limitation vary from state to state, and can limit the amount of money that you can recover, or eliminate it completely, whether you have the help of a lawyer or not.

Be prepared when you meet with a lawyer. Take any necessary documents, insurance information – both your own and that of the other party. Take the names of any witnesses there may have been, any photographic evidence taken at the scene, and a copy of the official police report. Any information can help your lawyer to help you, so be sure to prepare your documents before meeting with your lawyer for the first time.

This can be a profoundly difficult time for you and your family. With lost income and physical pain, there is no need to compound the suffering of you or your loved ones by having to go through a trying time alone. It’s important to know when to ask for help, and particularly when to seek the help of a trained professional, such as a car accident lawyer. Look for help from a trusted source.

When you find yourself in need, call or visit http://www.1800askgary.com for the kind of support that you need and deserve.

Doing Well by Doing Good: Law Firm Social Responsibility

Corporations increasingly subscribe to the principle of corporate social responsibility. CSR is based on the belief that a demonstration of concern for the environment, human rights, community development and the welfare of their employees can make a corporation more profitable. And if not more profitable, at least a better place to work.

Law firms can learn from corporate experience to create their own social responsibility programs. Such programs can help law firms to do well by doing good. They can strengthen the firm’s reputation and market position. They can help the firm identify with the culture and CSR activities of clients and potential clients. They can help lawyers and staff find more meaning in their work and improve as human beings.

In the words of the social responsibility Karma Committee at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: Be kind. Be generous. Be concerned. Donate time. Donate effort. Donate money. Just find a cause and give. You’ll quickly discover giving is also receiving.

A panel discussion about how law firms can learn about CSR and introduce some of its elements into their own models was sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. The program was held May 8 at Maggiano’s Little Italy in downtown Denver.

Panelists included Sarah Hogan, vice president of Barefoot PR; Bruce DeBoskey, lawyer and founder of The DeBoskey Group, which focuses on philanthropic advising; Joyce Witte, Community Investment Advisor and director of the Encana Cares Foundation, Encana Oil & Gas (USA); and Amy Venturi, director of community relations & karma at Brownstein. Moderator was Cori Plotkin, president of Barefoot PR.

At law firms, the product is the people – the lawyers and support staff who provide high quality legal services. It is an easy fit. There are many ways that this ‘product’ can contribute time, talent and treasure to socially responsible activities.

Social responsibility: Focus and strategy

Law firm social responsibility is all about making a difference within the community and the profession, and within a firm. Even the best efforts will make no impact if spread too thin. You cannot maximize the value of your contributions or tell your story if your efforts are too diluted. To decide how to most effectively invest its resources, a law firm needs a social responsibility focus and a strategy.

Social responsibility efforts must be authentic. Law firms and other entities should always avoid ‘green-washing’ – telling a story that is aspirational, but not really true. Know yourself. Let your firm’s unique culture and skills determine which efforts to pursue and which to avoid.

When examining your culture, don’t limit yourself to partner input. Law firms are small communities, almost like families. Any effort to define culture and social responsibility should represent not only the interests of lawyers, but the interests of all levels of support staff. Efforts must be meaningful throughout the firm. The benefits to employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction can be remarkable.

DeBoskey outlined three types of community involvement and stated his belief that a good social responsibility plan includes elements of all three.

In a traditional model, an organization ‘gives back’ randomly to the community when asked – as a good citizen, rather than for any strategic purposes. In a social responsibility model, these efforts align with the capabilities of the business – like the legal skills of lawyers. Every non-profit needs legal advice.

At it’s most sophisticated, a social responsibility program involves using your core product – legal services – as a tool for social change. Volunteer with organizations like the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, or the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center.

A strong focus makes it much easier to make decisions. Encana, for example, focuses its charitable giving strategy on issues surrounding its product — natural gas. Brownstein will donate money only if the request comes from a client, or if one of their attorneys is a member of the organization and on the board.

Law firms looking for additional advice can find valuable resources within the Corporate Community Investment Network. CCIN is an association for professionals whose primary responsibility is to manage community investment programs in a for-profit business setting.

Many corporations and a few law firms have actually created separate foundations to mange some of their giving. A foundation comes with more restrictions and different tax methods. As entities with a life of their own, however, foundations are more likely than one-off efforts to continue a useful existence.

Social responsibility: Good policies make good decisions

Strategy and focus provide the foundation for an effective social responsibility policy. Most law firms are inundated with requests from good causes asking for their support. A policy helps you know when to say “yes” to and when to say “no.”

In the law firm model, where all partners are owners with a sense of entitlement to resources, it can be very difficult to say no. A keenly focused policy makes it much easier to do so and keep the firm’s efforts on track.

Encana, for example, uses a five-step tool to determine the level of fit between a request and the company’s strategic goals in the field of natural gas – with level five being the largest commitment and level one the lowest.

Level five efforts integrate core product or service and often involve natural gas vehicles and energy efficiency initiatives using natural gas. These efforts contribute to best practices and leading trends in the industry, while enhancing the company’s reputation as a leader.

Level four efforts focus on strategic partnerships and often involve sustainable and long-term solutions like workforce development initiatives, signature programs (which can be repeated in other markets) and multi-year grants.

Level three efforts include strategic grants to assist with projects, programs or initiatives made to local non-profits aligned with natural gas.

Level two efforts include responsive giving, which is a one-time gift for a broad community effort that has local support. Participation of company representatives is required.

Level one efforts include the “t-shirt and banner” category, which contains one-day items like dinners, receptions, golf tournaments, events and races. These offer the least impact and awareness for the money, and therefore the least support.

At Brownstein, requests made to the firm are judged by two factors. The firm considers only requests made by clients and requests made by organizations where one of its attorneys participates at the board level.

Social responsibility: Engagement

Effective social responsibility programs involve not only checkbook involvement, but personal and professional involvement.

At Brownstein, the brand has always been about being out in the community. Six years ago, Venturi was asked to formalize this essential component of the firm’s culture into a social responsibility program that would further energize lawyers.

She started by spending 15 minutes with each of the attorneys, to discover their passions – which were used to identify a good non-profit match. After all, lawyers and staff will stay involved and do their best only when an organization is something that they care deeply about. If there is no engagement, the placement will backfire.

Finally, Venturi offers the lawyer’s services to the non-profit in some capacity – but it must be at the board level. Otherwise, she won’t make the match.

Project Karma is a Brownstein program dedicated to volunteer opportunities, and maintains a committee in each of the firm’s 12 offices. It sponsors informal lunch & learn presentations by local non-profits to encourage interest.

The message about active engagement by lawyers and staff must come from the top. Brownstein makes it very clear that the path to partnership for a new attorney is based not only on legal skills, but also on engagement and involvement with the community.

It is important to add a community involvement component to lawyer reviews, even if it is only one goal a year. That lets the lawyers know that you are serious. The Colorado Supreme Court asks every lawyer in to contribute 50 hours of pro bono work each year. Integrating these programs leads to win/win results for the firm.

Not every firm can match the efforts of a large company like Encana or a large law firm like Brownstein. However, there are good matches for firms of every size. Once again, it is all a matter of focus.

In fact, it is much easier to get five members of a small firm to focus on a strategic initiative than 500 lawyers in a huge firm. If a law firm has $10,000 to donate, that money goes a lot father and has a lot more impact to one organization than do $100 donations spread across 100 organizations.

Smaller law firms can also multiply its impact by partnering with others in an industry, like vendors or clients, to support a particular non-profit.

Social responsibility: Return on investment

Corporations measure the results of their social responsibility programs, and use these results to make decisions on efforts going forward. Law firms should do the same.

At the end of the year, Encana uses its five-level model (outline above) to analyze our charitable giving. How much was given at each level? Then the company sends a form to each non-profit, asking the recipient to evaluate outcomes (statistics for what was accomplished), process (did efforts meet the intended audience) and impact (what difference did it make).

Encana asks recipients to reply within 60 days, and uses this information to calculate return on investment. Those who do not report back are not eligible for further contributions. The non-profits might gripe at first, but they seem to change their minds once they’ve been through the process – finding that it has useful strategic value.

It is entirely appropriate to ask a non-profit to document the results they’ve achieved based on your contribution. It lets them know that you are truly invested in the organization. They will see you more as partners and engage you differently.

Most corporations have created and benefited from well-thought-through and strategic social responsibility programs. Law firms are starting to do the same. A program with tight focus and strict guidelines guarantees maximum impact and awareness in exchange for a law firm’s commitment of time, talent and treasure.