Written by attorney Margery Ellen Golant

Do I Need a Foreclosure Attorney?

People on the brink of or in foreclosure are constantly asking whether they need an attorney. Many people are struggling to defend themselves. Although the instinct is understandable, it is very dangerous. It is normally true that people dealing with foreclosure issues are having financial problems. If a borrower is serious about finding a solution though, it is critical to get qualified assistance.

Why it's a bad idea to represent yourself

The law allows people to represent themselves, so people are free to do this, but it is almost universally true that they will wind up hurting themselves, not helping. This is comparable to doing delicate surgery yourself on a loved one if you are not a surgeon. The law is very complex, litigation rules and procedures are very complex, and the area of foreclosure litigation is something even most attorneys know nothing about. Every case is different, what might be possible in this situation would depend on the exact details and legal issues in your case. Only a really qualified foreclosure defense will know how to even figure out what those are. That is why an attorney who really understands how this works needs to hear all the details. Serious foreclosure litigation is extremely difficult and complicated. This is not something that even most attorneys know how to do. We have clients who are themselves attorneys, yet have come to us for help because they understand this, and realize that in order to have a chance against the "big guys" they need really qualified people to help them. While there are many similar issues that have caused most people to be in this jam to start with, whether there is a solution for them depends on exactly what did happen, when and how it happened. It also depends on who will be deciding any legal issues, since judges are very different from one another and what one may think is perfectly reasonable may be rejected outright by another.

What a good foreclosure lawyer will do

In evaluating each case, an attorney looks at all the issues that the borrower knows of, and then looks at all the other issues known to be defenses to foreclosure. Your attorney should decide on a tailored strategy, depending on the details and on the borrowers' situation and goals. A good attorney will listen to all of the relevant information, tell you upfront what is and isn't possible, and then devise a personalized strategy for you.

Avoiding cookie-cutter lawyers

There are many attorneys these days who offer to assist borrowers with foreclosure defense. If you go out to find a foreclosure defense attorney, be very careful and make sure to find someone with whom you feel comfortable, and make sure that that person understands your objectives and can explain to you how those can be achieved. Avoid anyone who utilizes a "cookie-cutter" type defense. Cases are different from one another and it is impossible for them to be defended successfully if all are handled the same way. The kinds of practices that do this sort of "cookie-cutter" defense may be less expensive on the surface, but this is a classic example of "cheap is expensive". Raising the wrong issues or failing to raise the right ones and in the right way is likely to actually harm the case. If you are facing foreclosure and are not sure what to do, I urge you to find an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about foreclosure defense and bankruptcy to analyze your situation and to see what can be done to help you. While you may think you can't afford competent counsel, you can't afford NOT to have proper advice and assistance. The cost may not be nearly as much as you may think. If an attorney is knowledgeable and honest with you, he or she will give you all your options, the relative costs of each, and if he or she thinks he or she cannot help you, the attorney will tell you that too.

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