Since it’s initialization in 2008 to address issues of predatory and other questionable mortgage lending practices and the resulting foreclosure crisis and its catastrophic consequences, the Foreclosure Task Force of the Hampden County Bar Association has proceeded to develop a model for providing legal services to individuals facing foreclosure based upon the following core principles and beliefs:
* There exists an unmet need for legal representation by individuals unable to afford the cost of an attorney…or who are unaware of the availability of pro bono or similar legal services.
* Members of the bar have an individual moral and ethical obligation to participate in providing pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those members of the community who, without the availability of such services would be deprived of equal access to the law.
* Members of the bar acknowledge and readily accept their community service obligations and are unselfishly willing to devote their time and professional services in those areas of the practice in which they have experience and expertise…and in which there is a structured program for the effective delivery of such services.
* That attorneys willing to volunteer their time and efforts in providing pro bono and reduced rate legal services to those in need of representation crave continuing legal education and training that better equip them to provide the representation that is requested of them.
* That attorneys are willing to work together cooperatively, to be mentors to those less experienced and even share their work product (pleadings) with one another in collegial efforts to better serve the highest standards of the profession.
* That the structure of providing legal services to individuals facing foreclosure cannot be met solely by the individual attorneys or the Hampden County Bar Association alone, but must be a collaborative effort coordinate and in cooperation with the non-profit agencies such as the Massachusetts Justice Project, Western Mass. Legal Services, Mass. Fair Housing and others that share the same goals.
It is in recognition of these precepts that the Task Force initiated the creation of the Alliance of Providers of Legal Services to Individuals Facing Foreclosure that has brought together the Bar Association, the non-profit legal services organizations and others in a cooperate effort to address the issues of a foreclosure system gone aray and meet the legal need of those who were its victims. With its regular monthly meetings and cooperative and mutually supporting efforts, the Alliance is a model that effectively serves to triage the needs for the limited legal services available and insure the thoughtful allocation of such services. The Alliance and its participants are partners of the Foreclosure Task Force in all that it undertakes and accomplishes.
The Foreclosure Task Force on its own and in cooperation with the Hampden County Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association, Senior Partners for Justice and others has produced and to make educational programs available to members of the bar that will enhance and supplement the knowledge of those who undertake the representation of individuals victimized by predatory lending practice and/or enmeshed in the foreclosure process. It has distributed recent cases of interest to the bar and has circularized forms and examples to attorneys for their reference in their practice. All of its activities have been calculated to solicit volunteer attorneys, to provide them access to educational materials and other information that will enable them to improve their skills in the representation of clients requiring pro bono and reduced fee services referred to them under the auspices of those with whom the Foreclosure Task Force is affiliated in its Hotline (413-323-7404) and other outreach programs.
This website is intended to allow the Foreclosure Task Force to better and more effectively accomplish its objectives and serve the needs of those members of the bar who provide legal services to clients …individual homeowners requiring legal representation in issues involving their mortgages and/or foreclosure. The form and example contents of the website has, for the most part, been designed to allow viewers to download the forms and examples for redrafting in application to specific facts and cases. We are hopeful that the site serves its intended purposes and solicit the input of its users in our continuing efforts to improve its usefulness to members of the bar who avail themselves of the information that has been provided.
The Foreclosure Task Force takes this opportunity to express its heartfelt appreciation to those attorneys who are its volunteers, the non-profit providers of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel and all those others who have supported its efforts. As we launch this foray into the high tech world of cyberspace, we particular want to thank E. Bruce Berman, Jr. of Catalyst News Media Group who has been the catalyst for this project and has designed and maintains this website pro bono.
Eugene B. Berman, J.D., Chair
Foreclosure Task Force of the Hampden County Bar Association