Foreclosure Industry Makes Extensive Use of Paralegals
Tampa Bay Online’s article “Law firm gorges on home defaults” corroborates Robert Half Legal’s 2010 Salary Guide which includes bankruptcy and foreclosure as two of the most in-demand legal specialties right now.
But the article also illustrates the continuing bleak economy and its adverse impact on struggling homeowners as thousands of foreclosure proceedings are initiated “every month” in Hillsborough County Circuit Court.
To handle the overwhelming caseload, an army of lawyers, paralegals and clerks at big foreclosure law firms have streamlined the art of separating homeowners from their homes.
The new “foreclosure mills” systematize the process and offer bulk discounts to lenders for their services, but then charge the homeowners thousands of dollars in extra fees for the foreclosure process itself, when they are already behind on their monthly mortgage payments.
To handle the workload, foreclosure mills have developed a common model: use lower-paid paralegals and support staff for much of the routine legwork, and hire young lawyers to sign off on the lawsuits and handle complications.
The article discusses the “assembly line model to handle foreclosures”, i.e. “six to 10 paralegals and support staff for every lawyer.” But the assembly-line model can hurt the already beleaguered homeowners, who often can’t find a warm body to talk to or return their calls at the foreclosure companies.
As a veteran of the legal field since the mid-80s, I can remember periods when the real estate industry was booming, and real estate, especially refinances, was the hot specialty area at times. At one point early in my career, I helped prepare hundreds of refinance packages every month for excited and grateful homeowners.
The booming foreclosure business is creating much-needed jobs for legal professionals, including paralegals, but these jobs, whether you’re assisting the homeowners or the lenders, may be tougher psychologically than working on refinance packages.
Related Post: Legal Specialty Areas in Demand for 2010