State Bar Hypocrisy on Display – Bar to Offer Grants to Fund Legal Help with Foreclosures


According to the February edition of the California Bar Journal, in an article written by State Bar president Patrick Kelly, the State Bar of California has offered to administer a $10 million grant program that will make $9 million available to provide legal representation to California families facing foreclosure.


The money will be made available in the form of “Consumer Assistance Grants,” which are designed to fund legal representation, along with counseling and financial planning assistance.


An additional $1 million grant, called the Homeowner Bill of Rights Implementation Grant, is supposed to be used to “educate consumers and public interest attorneys about the law and engage the bench and legal community in discussions about the issues courts will face as parties begin to seek redress under the law.”


Whatever that means… “engage the bench and legal community in discussions about the issues courts will face as parties begin to seek redress under the new law?”  Gee, I don’t know why, and you can call me a skeptic, but that sentence inspires absolutely no confidence in me.


Okay, so let’s cut the crap here…


First of all, the number one way… BY FAR… that people save their homes from foreclosure is by getting their loan modified.  The State Bar of California, however, has made it abundantly clear that it wants to prevent lawyers from helping homeowners obtain loan modifications.  In fact, in a recent document filed in Orange County Superior Court, the Bar stated that since information and resources on how to get a loan modified we readily available free of charge, the lawyers offering loan modification assistance services were providing no value to their clients.


Referring to California’s law regulating the payment of advance fees related to a lawyer providing loan modification services, known as SB 94, the State Bar had the following to say about the legislature’s intent…


“The legislature’s expressed intent was to prevent distressed homeowners from paying any person for providing loan modification services for little or no benefit, especially since since services are widely available free of charge.” (RJN, Ex. E at 170-71.) Civil Code 2944.6.


Now, any lawyer or DRE licensee who had been involved in helping a homeowner get a loan modification knows how ridiculous that statement is.


Additionally, the State Bar has demonstrated on numerous occasions that it has very little knowledge of what’s involved related to the legal representation of homeowners at risk of foreclosure who are trying to get their loan modified.  A few months ago, for example, a State Bar court judge and prosecutor were asked to define specifically when the “end of the loan modification process” was according to the Bar’s interpretation of SB 94… was it when the borrower was granted a trial modification or when a permanent modification was received and signed by the borrower?


The State Bar prosecutor replied, “I heard they weren’t even doing trial modifications anymore,” which is another way of saying, in response to that same question, “Blutto, blutto, blatta, blatta, do-se-do and a sha-na-na.”  Or, in other words, “I have no idea what I’m talking about.”


So, now the State Bar, absolutely stunningly, is now inexplicably if not schizophrenically offering to be in charge of handing out $10 million in grant money to organizations that will provide legal representation to homeowners at risk of foreclosure?


Get out of town.  How would anyone at the State Bar even know who should or shouldn’t get the money?  I know that no one at the bar could explain for what the money should be used.  Not that spending ten million in California isn’t a lot like removing sand from the beach with a teaspoon.


The real question is, how in the world can the State Bar tell the court and countless lawyers that the bar doesn’t think homeowners need to hire lawyers to get their loans modified, and then offer to administer a grant program to fund legal assistance for homeowners at risk of foreclosure?  I mean, if there’s reason for me to go to legal aid to help save my home from foreclosure, doesn’t that mean there’s also reason for me to HIRE a lawyer for the same purpose.  Oh, I don’t care, the whole thing is so stupid that it’s giving me a headache.


Here’s what the Cal Bar Journal article has to say about its qualifications related to this preposterous idea…


This grant process is just part of a multi-year effort to mitigate the harm to Californians from the foreclosure crisis. The State Bar’s Office of Legal Services – working with HUD, the California Office of Attorney General, legal services programs, housing counseling agencies, and many other groups – has convened five foreclosure prevention forums throughout California since 2009.  The bar also helped conduct foreclosure training last August, and is planning another training event this spring.


The purpose of each event is to provide current foreclosure information to legal services advocates and pro bono attorneys in an effort to equip them with the tools necessary to assist Californians in need of legal assistance.


This really is unbelievable… what kind of legal assistance is the State Bar talking about?  I’ll bet anyone anything that Mr. Kelly could not answer that question if asked directly.  It’s like the State Bar earned its PhD in Egotistical & Obsequious Pandering.


Finally, the last three paragraphs of the article are so mindbogglingly offensive for anyone who knows the situation related to the State Bar and the foreclosure crisis that after I paste them in, I’m going to have to wrap up quickly and go lay down before I loose control of my bowels and defecate all over my chair.


In addition, the State Bar offers free Continuing Legal Education programs for pro bono attorneys on topics directly and indirectly related to foreclosure. Over 3,000 California attorneys have taken these free trainings, developed in conjunction with the Practising Law Institute (PLI). For more information, go to the bar’s website.


I’m thinking that maybe the California Bar Journal and Mr. Kelly should take a step back and start PRACTICING their spelling skills before commenting on the Practising Law Institute (PLI) or any more complicated like legal issues.  Just a thought…


Back to Kelly’s claptrap…


Of course, the bar’s discipline system is diligent in ensuring that lawyers are not violating their professional responsibilities in this area, fraught with conflict, and we are proud that they are fulfilling that important role.


And finally, the bar’s Ethics Hotline has been helping many attorneys sort through specific questions that arise while handling foreclosure cases. Attorneys should feel free to contact them at 1-800-238-4427.


I am proud of the fact that the State Bar and the legal community are playing such an important role in making sure that Californians continue the recovery from this devastating crisis.


Honestly, this press release of an article in the Cal Bar Journal is about the most deplorable piece of itinerant trash it has ever been my displeasure to read.  For one thing, according to a couple hundred California lawyers, the State Bar’s Ethics Hotline has been essentially no help related to their representing homeowners at risk of foreclosure.  For another, I’ve followed every single aspect of the foreclosure crisis in California from the beginning through today and would readily put my knowledge up against anyone’s… and the State Bar of California has done nothing to help California’s homeowners avoid foreclosure.


I’m no necessarily saying that’s been their intent… maybe they just don’t know any better, don’t fully understand the situation or the dynamics.  But, regardless the reason, the facts about the State Bar’s inattention at best and incompetence at worst related  to the foreclosure crisis remain.


And I’m quite certain that should the details of the bar’s administering of this $10 million grant program ever become public so I can write about the outcome, it will be yet another  dismal failure in a long line of failures by government agencies.  I only wish there was a betting window for these sorts of predictions.


One thing I will say about State Bar Executive Director Joe Dunn is that his political skills are nothing short of masterful… it’s breathtaking, really.  So, stay tuned… with hypocrisy operating at these levels, absolutely anything is possible.


So, what’s next?  How about Penn State’s Athletic Program offers to administer a grant program to fund assistance with child molestation?  Or, how about we put Bernie Madoff in charge of giving out grants intended to prevent investor fraud?  Let’s let the California Department of Corrections take over for the Department of Education, and the Department of Conservation step in for CalTrans.


And I suppose we could just continue to let the Office of Services to the Blind lead the Office of Services to the Blind, but I’m afraid they’d fail to see my point.  (Alright, that wasn’t funny, and shame on you for laughing.)


Mandelman out.



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