Lee S. Raphael is managing partner of Prober & Raphael and oversees the firm's nationwide bankruptcy practice. He has extensive experience with bankruptcy, real estate and federal appellate matters. Raphael earned his bachelor's degree in Sociology from California State University Northridge and his Juris Doctor from Southwestern University School of Law, where he received the Dean's Scholar Designation. He was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1995 and is also admitted to all California Federal District Courts as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition, Raphael has a perfect 5.0 AV Preeminent peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell. Raphael's professional affiliations include/have included: the Mortgage Bankers Association, American Legal & Financial Network, American Bar Association, Los Angeles County Bar Association, San Fernando Valley Bar Association, Los Angeles Bankruptcy Forum, United Trustees Association, National Association of Chapter 13 Trustees, Central District Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney Association and the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel.
Raphael spoke with DS News about how he and his firm have remained successful in the ever-fluctuating mortgage and default servicing industry.
What is the state of the default industry now that the foreclosure inventory is back down to pre-crisis level?
The industry is always in a state of flux, even as inventory drops. As the industry has gone through many challenges, so has my firm and all default servicing law firms. While we have experienced many challenges, there are still many challenges ahead. The surviving servicers and law firms have emerged successfully, and we have a bright future ahead of us.
Is litigation diversification a problem your firm is facing now that foreclosures rate are reaching lower levels again?
Default referral volume to law firms has obviously dropped overall. But, honestly, my firm's file numbers have not dropped significantly. We have been very successful in retaining our clients as servicers have consolidated their law firm numbers. I suspect we have benefited because we value communication with our clients and spend a significant amount of our time and resources educating ourselves and our clients on current hot topics, like the Proposed national Chapter 13 Plan, as well as what is on the horizon.
What are some key factors to the success you have found throughout the fluctuation of the housing market and default servicing industry?
Education, presenting at and attending conferences and being actively involved in various aspects of the default servicing community, with our clients, trustees, judges and the bankruptcy debtor bar, are key to staying ahead of the curve and being ready when changes are implemented. Anticipating those changes and their effects has proven to be extremely helpful.