Addressing the Foreclosure Crisis Through Law School Clinics
21 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2014 Last revised: 10 Apr 2019
Date Written: 2013
Since the 2008 financial crisis, unprecedented numbers of homes have been lost to foreclosure in the United States, all while public funds for free or reduced fee legal representation in some communities have all but disappeared. This means that most homeowners in foreclosure are unable to find lawyers to represent them. At the same time, clinical legal education, especially in subjects related to business and commercial law, is on the rise. This convergence offers a unique opportunity for law school clinics to give students valuable training in both litigation and financial law and also help fill the deep need for legal representation by homeowners in foreclosure. Each of us has experience representing homeowners in foreclosure, Max at Harvard Law School in the Predatory Lending and Consumer Protection Clinic, and Nathalie in the University of New Mexico School of Law's Business and Tax Clinic.
In this Article, we discuss our experiences and offer advice and insights for clinics considering taking cases of this kind. Part I provides a very brief overview of the conditions that led to the financial crisis, a description of the extent of the problem, and a few ways clinical law programs can help. Part II discusses the practical and philosophical reasons why law school clinics play such a pivotal role in stemming the effects of the crisis on homeowners, through examples of cases litigated in Max's clinic. Part Ill attempts to give readers a few of the basic tools they need to add this practice to their clinics for the benefit of individual homeowners and their communities.
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