Saturday, May 1, 2010

ATTORNEYS AND CLIENTS - ADEQUATE REPRESENTATION

According to today's Newsday, more than 2,300 attended the three-day mortgage modification event which ended Friday night but that the event averaged around 750 people a day, less than the 1,500 per day capacity. In fact, Newsday reports the following statement: "We had certainly planned for and hoped for a larger turnout." said Alvina McHale, spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury Department. Moreover, McHale commented on how homeowners were not prepared in bringing the documents needed to make the event worthwhile for them. This is what I experience too as an attorney: many people asking for help but not willing or able to gather the evidence that would help them. Let me start first with mortgage modifications: at many consultations, whether at a mortgage foreclosure clinic or at a mandatory settlement conference, a client will fail or are unwilling to bring the foreclosure papers, the mortgage papers, etc. or any of the papers required for an attorney to help them. At Landlord/Tenant court, tenants will discuss their defenses of payment, inhabitable premises, etc. but will fail or are unwilling to bring to court any evidence of it. In Unemployment Insurance matters, Claimants will discuss their position as to why they are entitled to benefits, etc. yet fail or are unwilling to produce any of the documents that back up their position. Now I am sure there are some who may say: "of course, they didn't bring proof because they are not telling the truth". But that is not always the case. The stress and mental anguish that an individual can go through in trying times can sometimes be so overpowering that a sense of hopelessness and despair takes over and prevents an individual from taking the needed steps that permit an attorney to adequately represent them. I welcome to hear from other attorneys on their own experiences and if anyone knows of any studies on this.

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