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Seminars Help Attorneys Lend a Hand on Foreclosures


By Jeff Swiatek



HELP NEEDED: Attorneys, judges and mediators were on hand Friday in Indianapolis for the first of 30 seminars to educate them on President Barack Obama’s mortgage modification plan. Industry professionals’ aid is sought to help field the deluge of people facing foreclosure. - MATT KRYGER / The Star


With Indiana’s home foreclosure rates ranking among the worst in the nation, the state and several legal groups want to train hundreds of attorneys, judges and mediators in using new mortgage modification programs to keep people in their homes.

The first of 30 training seminars on Friday filled all 100 seats in a meeting room in Indianapolis, which last year ranked among the 35 U.S. areas with the highest number of foreclosures. Marion County and 34 other counties across the country together accounted for more than half of all foreclosures filed last year.

Speakers doled out advice about mortgage modification plans, including President Barack Obama’s just-released program to aid millions of homeowners in trouble. Participants at the all-day session also worked through a practice mortgage workout to get a feel for the legal steps.

Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, who has pushed for the training program, wants attorneys who attend the seminar to each represent for free at least one homeowner facing mortgage foreclosure. That would help fulfill a lawyer’s obligation to provide 50 hours of legal advice per year, said Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Melissa May, who chairs the Indiana Pro Bono Commission that oversees the free legal work provision.

“We’ll take more” than one free foreclosure case a year from attorneys, said May, who attended Friday’s training session. “A lot of people need help.”

The seminars, which will be held statewide through July, also will train judges and mediators.

Christine M. Jackson, an Indianapolis attorney in solo practice, said the sessions are “desperately needed” by attorneys. She said an average of 20 homeowners a week contact her, seeking legal help to fight foreclosures by their lenders because they’ve fallen behind on house payments.

“There just aren’t enough people trained” to aid all the homeowners in trouble, said Jackson. She usually takes foreclosure cases for free, she said, and collects her fee when she settles with the lender. Her cases typically charge a violation of federal Truth in Lending laws, and lenders often opt to settle when a violation, such as understating the loan payments, is found.


• Call Star reporter Jeff Swiatek at (317) 444-6483. ( - original article)




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