About five years ago, I stopped taking foreclosure defense cases. Defending a foreclosure action is always both frustrating and time intensive – banks lose documents. I made the decision to focus my practice on other areas of the law.
I’ve never lost my desire to help homeowners in a time of crisis. So many people are an illness or job loss away from being a defendant in a foreclosure action. Those who find themselves facing foreclosure are confronted with overwhelming stress.
In 2013, I signed up for the Hartford Judicial District’s volunteer attorney program to assist those facing foreclosure. I signed up in November and the first available date was in July – a testament to the generosity of the Hartford County Bar.
When I arrived at court, I was nervous. Nervous that I wouldn’t be able to adequately help those in need in a quick consult.
In two hours of volunteering I assisted 5 people. Most of them had very simple questions. Others needed basic guidance. For example, a mother an a daughter sat across from the table. A relative had passed away and taxes hadn’t been paid on the property. There was no mortgage. The home had been in the family for 60+ years. The tax liens had been sold to a private party who was foreclosing.
The family didn’t know what to do. I asked if an estate had been opened. They told me one hadn’t. I assisted them in finding the probate court in their jurisdiction, told them that they needed to be appointed as administrators of the estate, and then outlined some options for them in the foreclosure process.
The advice was what I would consider to be very basic.
The barriers that confront pro se litigants are many. Making a difference doesn’t require undertaking a significant amount of litigation for a party at great personal sacrifice. It can be found in lawyers providing the most basic of legal assistance.