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Law Firms and Mortgage Servicers Convene in Dallas


Five Star President & CEO Ed Delgado addresses the Summit.

On Tuesday, the Five Star Institute hosted various default servicing industry experts at the 2019 Legal League 100 Spring Servicer Summit [1]. The Spring Servicer Summit brought together representation from mortgage servicers, financial services law firms, and federal government agencies to discuss best practices and policies impacting professional legal services supporting the mortgage industry.

“Legal League 100 members play a critical role within the mortgage servicing industry,” said Ed Delgado, President and CEO of Five Star Global. “Today’s conversations are an important step in continuing to strengthen best practices that benefit both the industry and homeowners.”

“I’m looking forward to more in depth conversation about newer issues and looking forward to hearing from industry leaders from the servicing and legal side,” said Caren Castle, The Wolf Firm [2].

Legal League 100 [3] Chair Roy Diaz of SHD Legal opened the day’s activities, noting some of the year’s major developments such as the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obduskey v. McCarthy & Holthus, in which the justices ruled 9-0 that businesses engaged in nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings are not considered "debt collectors" under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Diaz then introduced the first panel of the day, entitled “Critical Developments in Default Litigation.” Moderated by Stephen Hladik, Partner at Hladik, Onorato & Federman, LLP, the panel also included insights from Jane Bond, Managing Partner for Florida Litigation at McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce, LLC; Kent Pearson, Associate General Counsel for Fannie Mae; Matthew E. Podmenik, General Counsel & Managing Partner for McCarthy Holthus, LLP; and AnneMarie Bui Tedford, Assistant General Counsel for Citibank.

LL100-2The Obduskey case was once again a hot topic within the day’s first full panel, with Podmenik providing the firm’s perspective and the panel then discussing some of the aftermath they’re seeing. Discussion turned to how some state governments are working to institute more of their own laws regarding debt collection or even implementing their own state-level versions of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. This will only make it all the more critical that servicers and their partner law firms are attentive to issues of compliance and stay abreast of the latest developments.

"If you look at the attendees and the panelists, they're extraordinary," said Matthew Podmenik, Managing Partner, McCarthy & Holthus, LLP. "There's been plenty of time to network, but to me it's been more of an educational experience, and I have a lot of information to take back to my shop."

The panel discussion also included a discussion of super-lien issues in states such as Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada, as well as an update about how some borrowers are using the CFPB’s Mortgage Servicing Rules to mount a defense in foreclosure cases.

Next up was the "Unrecorded Loan Modifications and Title Issues in Default Servicing" panel, moderated by Ryan Bourgeois, General Counsel and Partner for BDF Law Group. Also participating were John Dunnery, VP of Government Loan Servicing for Bayview; Robert L. Galbraith, Jr., Managing Partner of Davidson Fink, LLP; Richard M. Nielson, Managing Shareholder for Reimer Law; and Steve Roark, Director of Sub-Servicing Performance for LoanDepot.

The next panel was "Building Better Partnerships: Collaborating to Improve Communication," moderated by Alexander Wolfe, Supervising Attorney of Texas Foreclosure for The Padgett Law Group. Other participants included Amy Neumann, VP of Foreclosure and Attorney Manager for Flagstar Bank; Jacquelyn S. Pardue, Director of Purchasing and Vendor Management for Gateway First Bank; Lee S. Raphael, Owner and Managing Attorney of Prober & Raphael, A Law Corporation; Jonathan Grim, Director of Research and Recovery for Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC; and J. Anthony Van Ness, Founder of Van Ness Law Firm, PLC.

“The Legal League Summit is a great opportunity for servicers and our vendors and attorneys we work with to have a level of facetime that can be rare otherwise," Pardue told MReport. "Servicers are sharing what works, what hasn't worked, and those are important conversations for everyone. It provides an opportunity for level-setting and allows everyone to take away different ideas to bring back to their organization.”

After the lunch service, John Abel, Senior Deputy Attorney General for the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General delivered a keynote address before the panel sessions resumed.

LL100-3"Navigating the Non-Standard Default" kicked off the after-lunch sessions, with Michelle Garcia Gilbert, Managing Partner of Gilbert Garcia Group, P.A., overseeing the panel as moderator. Her panel included Caren Jacobs Castle, Senior Mortgage Servicing Attorney at The Wolf Firm; Michelle Maccagnano, Managing Partner of Litigation for New York at Frenkel Lambert Weiss; and Kristin Synan, Foreclosure Manager at LendingHome Funding Corp.

The final panel of the day focused on "The State of the Industry," with LL100 Chair Roy Diaz moderating. The discussion included Kevin Brungardt, CEO of RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation; Allen C. Myers
Assistant General Counsel and VP for JPMorgan Chase Bank; Kathy E. Rentas, Associate General Counsel for Fannie Mae; and Courtney Thompson, Director of Default Servicing Operations for Flagstar Bank.

The "State of the Industry" panel included a wide ranging discussion that touched on the benefits and challenges of multistate vs. single-state law firms, the risks posed by hackers and data security breaches, and what servicers look for when partnering with a law firm.