Students from the USF School of Law's Predatory Lending Clinic and
alumni provide free mortgage counseling at a time when many homeowners
face mounting debt.
As many as two million households will be affected by the subprime
mortgage debacle: their homes foreclosed on, their equity lost, and
their credit histories tarnished, perhaps permanently. How much of that
could have been averted if those mostly low-income mortgage applicants
had received better counseling before signing on the dotted line?
Counsel, a new undertaking of the USF School of Law's Predatory Lending
Clinic, and alumni working pro bono is providing just that sort of
"Intervention on behalf of the most
vulnerable in our society -- low income people, people of color,
limited English proficient households, and the elderly -- is necessary
to prevent an unprecedented loss of homes and wealth in these
communities," said Tim Iglesias, law professor and program director of
House Counsel. "Students and alumni will assist people who are
financially disenfranchised, who, by virtue of their limited financial
resources, are effectively barred from legal counsel and access to
House Counsel starts by training working attorneys in
lending law, predatory practices, and reverse mortgages. Thirty-eight
attorneys attended training sessions in September and October,
including Marcia Perez of the Law Offices of Allen & Associates. "I
came out of class with a whole lot of new knowledge," she said. "As an
immigration lawyer, this is a whole new field to me, from the
vocabulary to the litigation process. And I am more convinced than ever
of the need to apply principles of fundamental fairness in this arena.
The stakes are just too high for the people victimized by predatory
Following their training, attorneys, paired with USF
law students, work pro bono meeting with prospective borrowers to
review their loan paperwork and funding options.
months, students Jessica Florey, Michelle Nunoz, and Jonathan Jaffe
worked on several predatory lending cases with the law firm of Liuzzi
Murphy and Solomon, made up entirely of USF alumni. In one case, the
student-alumni team was able to secure a temporary restraining order to
stop a foreclosure sale just 30 minutes before it was to take place.
Counsel inserts USF students and alumni into one of the nation's most
troubling financial issues of the day. In addition to the USF School of
Law, it is sponsored by Fenwick and West, Howrey, LLC., Community Legal
Services in East Palo Alto, Fair Lending Consortium, and the Jesuit
Foundation at USF.
"The Predatory lending Clinic and House
Counsel provide law students with a real life laboratory for legal
practice," according to the program's coordinator, Shirley Hochhausen,
adjunct professor, director of the Predatory Lending Clinic, and
director of the Fair Lending Practice and Referral Service at Community
Legal Services in East Palo Alto. "Students are exposed to firms and
practitioners who are committed to excellence, and help to provide a
measure of justice to poor and minority borrowers who are at risk of
losing their homes because of illegal loans."
note: For more information about Housing Counsel or to join the
attorney referral pool, contact Shirley Hochhausen at (415) 982-1510 or