ALTERNATIVE LEGAL SERVICES
Foreclosure Task Force of the
HAMPDEN COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION and the
ALLIANCE of Providers of Legal Services
To Individuals Facing Foreclosure
This Directory of Alternative Legal Services has been prepared
for the information of members of the bar to assist them in having available a resource of organizations to whom individuals can be referred for free, pro bono or reduced fee legal services.
Individual homeowners facing the prospect of foreclosure for reason of the sub prime mortgage crisis, predatory lending practices including variable rate mortgages, can be referred to the Hotline: (413) 322-7404 that is maintained by the Alliance. Callers to the Hotline will be referred to one of the Volunteer attorneys best suited to address the individual legal issues and the financial circumstances of the individual.
The purpose of the Alliance is to assure that competent legal services are available to those victimized by predatory lending practices and facing foreclosure as a result thereof.
It should be remembered that recourse to legal action is a step in the continuum of a process to resolve mortgage foreclosure issues. It is recommended that when time permits, an individual facing the prospect of foreclosure of a residential mortgage seek assistance in negotiating a meaningful restructuring of the existing mortgage. There are non-profit organizations providing such counseling service. The Foreclosure Task Force and The Alliance of Providers of Legal Services to Individuals Facing Foreclosure cautions against the use of the for profit organizations that require a pre-payment for its services to be rendered in attempting to accomplish loan modifications.
While not listed in this Directory of Alternative Legal Services, indispensable resources that may be pursued prior to the involvement of an attorney are the Western Massachusetts Foreclosure Prevention Center (Hotline: 413-233-1622), Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services (413-739-4737) and other non-profit organization providing counseling services. These organizations are staffed to undertake loan modifications. Counseling is the starting point in the continuum of services available to individuals facing the prospect of foreclosure.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Martha Coakley, Attorney General
WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS DIVISION
Office of the Attorney General
1350 Main Street
Springfield, MA 01103
Tel: 413-764-1240 Fax: 413-784-1244
Contact: Richard Steward
The Attorney General is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As such, she represents the Commonwealth in many matters in which the Commonwealth is a party.
The Attorney GeneralÕs Office accepts complaints from distressed homeowners through its Public Inquiry and Assistance Hotline. Homeowners may call 617-727-8400 or may directly file a Consumer Complaint online through the Attorney GeneralÕs website: www.mass.gov/ago.
Western Massachusetts consumers may also call or visit the Attorney GeneralÕs Office: 1350 Main Street, 4th Floor, Springfield, MA 01103. Tel: 413-784-1240.
The Attorney GeneralÕs Office acts on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and by law cannot represent individual residents or provide legal advice. Hotline and office staff is available to:
* Answer questions or direct consumers to areas of its website for
* Offer referrals to appropriate organizations or government agencies
for help; or
* Provide information on the Attorney GeneralÕs complaint and
mediation processes, and community-based consumer and mediation
As the Attorney GeneralÕs Office reviews questions and complaints received through its hotline and consumer complaint process, it looks for trends or patterns of unfair and deceptive trade practices. When appropriate, the Attorney General, as part of her statutory and constitutional responsibility to enforce laws protecting the public, initiates litigation in the public interest.
For more information about the Attorney GeneralÕs role in addressing the CommonwealthÕs foreclosure crisis or to file a complaint, visit the consumer protection section of the Attorney GeneralÕs website: www.mass.gov/ago.
HAMPDEN COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION
Lawyer Referral & Information Service
50 State Street, Room 137
P. O. Box 559
Springfield, MA 01102-0559
Noreen Nardi, Executive Director
Tel: 413-732-4648 Fax: 413-732-6882
PURPOSE: The purpose of the Lawyer Referral & Information Service
(LRIS) is to assist the general public by providing a way in
which any person meeting the criteria of the Service be
referred to a member of the bar residing or practicing in
CRITERIA: LRIS is available to any person who, in the opinion of the
Service, can afford to pay a reasonable fee for legal services.
The Lawyer Referral & Information Service maintains panels of attorneys living or engaged in the full time practice of law in Hampden County who agree to abide by the rules and regulations applicable to members of the Panel. Each Panel member may designate up to five (5) areas of law in which he/she is Òcompetent and experiencedÓ. The areas of law in which referrals are made on a rotating bass are all encompassing, ranging from Bankruptcy to Zoning and includes both civil and criminal law. Each member of the Panel is required to carry minimum Professional Liability coverage of $250,000/$500,000. This is an American Bar Association approved Lawyer Referral & Information Service.
Where the client requests a consultation only, the Panel member will grant an initial consultation to the client for a fixed fee to be fixed by the attorney, but not more than $25.00 for the first one-half hour. The charge for additional legal services shall be agreed upon with the client.
In addition, the Hampden County Bar AssociationÕs Lawyer Referral & Information Service maintains a reduced rate panel for certain areas of law, including bankruptcy, for those individuals who are on limited income (175% to 225% of poverty) and who do not qualify for free legal services. Under this program, attorneys agree to represent eligible individuals at a rate of no more than $75.00 per hour. The LRIS waives its standard 15% referral fee under this program.
HAMPDEN COUNTY LEGAL CLINIC
73 State Street
Springfield, MA 01103
Michelle LaPlante, Director
Tel: (413) 733-6500
PURPOSE: The Hampden County Legal Clinic is a legal aid program
under the auspices of the Hampden County Bar
Association that assists individuals at no charge who
have limited financial resources and who meet specific
The Clinic calls upon the services of the Volunteer
Attorneys of the Foreclosure Prevention Task Force.
CRITERIA: A free initial consultation is available to any individual
who is the owner occupant of residential property that is
subject to a sub-prime or variable rate mortgage or who
may have been the victim of predatory lending
The attorney provides the initial consultation on a pro
bono basis. However, if the attorney agrees to undertake
the representation of a client referred by the Task Force,
he/she will do so on a reduced fee basis commensurate
with the nature of the services to be rendered and the
financial circumstances of the client.
If the client is unable to afford the fee established by the
attorney, the attorney will make every reasonable effort
to refer the client to someone who can provide the legal
services on a pro bono or no fee basis.
The Task Force Volunteers are experienced attorneys possessing the skills required in the representation of individuals facing the issues of imminent foreclosure. They are prepared to negotiate with recalcitrant lenders, evaluate documents for evidence of predatory lending and to identify truth-in-lending and other statutory violations, to institute legal action against the lender when warranted and/or to represent the client in the filing of a petition in Bankruptcy and in the related proceedings.
The attorneys who have volunteered to for this program have pledged to participate in continuing educational and training programs that will better prepare them to address the legal, financial and other issues that confront the victims of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
MASSACHUSETTS FAIR HOUSING CENTER
57 Suffolk Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
Defending Civil Rights, Pursuing Justice
Meris Bergquist, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Natalie Manachian Shemonassian, Esq., Staff Attorney
Tel: 1-800-675-7309 (Toll Free) 413-539-9796 ext. 101
The Massachusetts Fair Housing Center (MFHC) is a private, non-profit
fair housing organization serving central and western Massachusetts.
MFHCÕs mission is to enforce the civil rights laws, educate tenants.
Landlords, and community groups in fair housing practices; people who
have experienced housing discrimination.
MFHC provides legal advice and services to homeowners with predatory
MASSACHUSETTS JUSTICE PROJECT, INC.
57 Suffolk Street, 4th Flr.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Gordon Shaw, Esq., Executive Director
Tel: (800) 639-1209 (Toll Free) (413) 533-2660
The MJP in Holyoke is a four county-wide, centralized advice and referral office which handles a large volume of client inquiries on a variety poverty law issues. It provides initial intake, advice or brief service for all income-eligible callers in its service area who seek legal assistance. JP refers eligible clients to other legal service programs and to the private bar and provides more extensive representation as resources permit.
Volunteer Lawyers Service of the
MASSACHUSETTS JUSTICE PROJECT
57 Suffolk Street, Suite 401
Holyoke, MA 01040-5015
Patricia Walsh Ollari, Coordinator
for Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire Counties
Tel: (800) 639-1209 (Toll Free) (413) 533-2660
Fax: (413) 535-1774
Foreclosure Prevention Hotline: (413) 322-7404
Western Massachusetts Volunteer Lawyers Service (VLS), formerly known as the Pro Bono Referral System, is a program of the Massachusetts Justice Project. VLS, in conjunction with the four western county bar associations, provides referrals to private attorneys who have agreed to provide free legal assistance in civil matters to low income clients in Western Massachusetts, specializing in referral of Domestic Relations, Housing, Consumer, and Special Education.
The Volunteer Lawyers Service administers the Foreclosure Hotline (413-322-7404) of the ALLIANCE of Providers of Legal Services to Individuals Facing Foreclosure and the Foreclosure Task Force of the Hampden County Bar Association and its Bankruptcy Section. The VLS provides intake and triage services to assure that individuals are referred to the appropriate provider of the legal services that are required.
Pro Se Law Clerk
UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
WESTERN DIVISION of the DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
United States Courthouse
300 State Street
Leslie Storm, Pro Se Law Clerk
Tel: (413) 785-6892 http://www.mab.uscourts.gov/mab/node/26
Hours: Wednesday @ Springfield
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Or by appointment – appointments preferred.
The Pro Se Law Clerk provides information about the
bankruptcy process and filing requirements and makes referrals
to appropriate non-profit agencies that provide or refer
individual attorneys who will provide legal services.
The Pro Se Law Clerk does not give legal advice.
WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS LEGAL SERVICES
One Monarch Place, Suite 400
Springfield, MA 01144-4016
Guy E. Lescault, Acting Executive Director email@example.com
Tel: (413) 781-7814 Fax: (413) 746-3221
Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) is the principal provider of civil legal services to the poor in Western Massachusetts. WMLS has offices in Springfield, Northampton and Pittsfield.
To receive free legal services from WMLS, a client must meet strict eligibility guidelines. Annual income for a family of four cannot exceed 125% of the federal poverty guidelines, or the client is receiving some form of public benefits, and the case must not be one that a lawyer in private practice would take because there is a fee available from a source other than the client. Exceptions may be made (up to 187.5% of federal poverty guidelines) on a case-by-case basis.
Elders (those age 60 and up) do not need to meet these income eligibility limits, as services for elders are supported in part by funds provided through WestMass Eldercare and Greater Springfield Senior Services under the Older Americans Act.
Services provided: for non-elders, WMLS does not currently provide counseling or representation for owners facing foreclosure or needing bankruptcy. It would seek to refer income-eligible individuals with such needs through the Volunteer Lawyers Service. WMLSÕ housing unit does provide assistance to tenants of foreclosed landlords.
For elders, WMLS does provide counseling and possible representation to elders faced with the loss of their homes through foreclosure, tax liens, etc.
Intake: Non-elders should be referred to the Massachusetts Justice Project (413-533-2660). Elders should contact WMLS directly