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Top Legal Minds Address Pressing Housing Issues

Moderator Roy Diaz with panelists Amy Neumann, Bryce Fendall, Christopher Carman, and Jane Bond at the 2021 Five Star Conference

Day two of the 2021 Five Star Conference and Expo began with a gathering of some of the country's finest financial services law professionals at the Legal League 100 Fall Servicer Summit for LL 100 members, associate members, and mortgage industry professionals.

Hello Solutions sponsored a post-summit reception.

Tuesday's six-hour summit offered an opportunity for collaborative discussion related to regulatory developments, landmark cases, and emerging issues within the housing and mortgage market and will, according to Membership Director Eileen Kornmeyer, will shape the League's initiatives and advocacy projects for 2022.

“Today is a day to meet new friends and see longstanding industry friends that we haven’t seen for the last 18 months,” said LL 100 Chair Stephen Hladik, of Hladik, Onorato and Federman, who welcomed the group and delivered opening remarks.

During the Servicer Super Session, a panel of legal and mortgage servicing experts—McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce's Jane Bond, State Statebridge Company's Bryce Fendall, Diaz Anselmo and Associates' Roy Diaz, BSI Financial Services' Christopher Carman, and Flagstar Bank's Amy Neumanndelved into projected volume increases, as foreclosure holds expire, and discussed anticipated timelines, court backlogs, and necessary preparations the industry must make as it works to respond to increases in workflow.

Fendall pointed out that "this past year and a half has been a nightmare for servicers" with rules varying state-to-state. "We've gone through, we're making sure we have a checklist in place so that our staff are cautious on every single file.

"We are seeing increased volume and so we've actually stepped up to accommodate that, and we are focused on loans we were dealing with before the pandemic ... and trying to give borrowers every chance [to avoid foreclosure]," he said.

The panel acknowledged staffing challenges. Bond said that in the past, when her firm sought new lawyers after the Great Recession, for example, they received 200-plus resumes, whereas now "sometimes you're looking at one or two and then some of those are not even qualified.

"So, from an attorney perspective, it is going to be a lot harder to find the exact people that we want, and we're going to have to work harder and train new people in the industry," Bond said.

Later, top servicing executives—including Neil Sherman from Schneiderman and Sherman, Ryan Bourgeois of Barrett Daffin Frappier Turner and Engel, Courtney Thompson founder of Consigliera, Sasha Cohen from Community Loan Servicing, and J. Anthony Van Ness of Van Ness Law Firm—discussed challenges of maintaining a sufficient workforce during the Pushing through: Keeping Business Engaged in Difficult Times panel.

The Wolf Firm's Caren Castle, RAS's Daniel Chilton, Hladik, and Community Loan Servicing's John Dunnery discussed the CFPB's proposed rule changes, the OCC True Lender case, and other national  and state-level cases.

Just prior to Hladik's closing remarks, Hilary Bonial of Bonial and Associates, Abbey Dreher from Barrett Daffin Frappier Turner and Engel, and Keena Newmark of Padgett Law Group addressed the pandemic's economic impacts on homeowners and explored crucial bankruptcy trends and what they mean for the coming year.

The conference continues through Tuesday.

More information on Five Star Institute's Legal League 100 is available at legalleague100.com.

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media and Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning News, among others. Contact Christina at [email protected].

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