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Discussing the Default Landscape

On Tuesday, September 24, leaders from financial services law firms came together to discuss default policies, procedures, and emerging issues with leading mortgage servicing executives at the Legal League 100 Fall Servicer Summit. The semi-annual servicer summit which was held during the ongoing Five Star Conference in Dallas was open to all Legal League 100 members, associate members, and mortgage servicing professionals.

Sponsored by Auction.com, BDF Law Group, Entra Solutions LLC, Fabrizio & Brook P.C., Gilbert Garcia Group, P.A., Hladik Onorato & Federman, LLP, HMB Law Group, McCalla Raymer Liebert Pierce LLC, McCarthy Holthus, ProVest, and SHD Legal Group P.A., the theme for the summit was Members in Session.

Opening the proceedings, Roy Diaz, Managing Shareholder SHD Legal Group P.A. and Chairperson of the Legal League 100 welcomed new members and addressed members on some of the initiatives being taken by Legal League 100. 

Diving right into the regulatory rulings that are currently impacting the industry, the first session moderated by M. Troy Freedman, Managing Foreclosure Attorney, Richard M. Squire & Associates, LLC, featured Ryan Bourgeois, General Counsel, Partner, BDF Law Group, Gina Daya, AVP of Foreclosure, Fay Servicing, LLC, Steven K. Eisenberg, Founder & Executive, Stern & Eisenberg, and Ben Purser, Chief Risk Officer, RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation on the panel.

The next panel moderated by Marc Wagman, Supervising Attorney, Potestivo & Associates P.C.explored bankruptcy changes within the last 12 months, at the national and state level. The panel consisting of Shawn I. Carter, VP, Associate General Counsel, Mr. Cooper, David K. Greene, Associate General Counsel, Fannie Mae, and Robert Norman Jr., Shareholder, Houser & Alison, APC gave insights into how law firms and servicers were dealing with these changes.

"Servicers and creditors must be mindful about being precise in their language," Norman said while discussing some of the court orders that impacted servicers because of the language used in their bankruptcy filing cases. "Have all your servicing records in order when you're fighting bankruptcy cases."

Another breakout session included a discussion on how servicers and law firms could collaborate to improve industry standards. Moderated by Adam Gross, Founding Partner, Gross Polowy, LLC, the panelists for this session included Jodie Cooper, Default Firm Management, Fannie Mae, Tyron Miller, Relationship and Performance Management, Freddie Mac, Joseph Tirello, Attorney, ZBS Law, LLP, and Ramie Word, SVP of Performing Servicing, Mr. Cooper.

"Escalating a matter in the right manner is critical and for that, it is important to communicate precisely and clearly," Cooper said while discussing the importance of Form 20 - a common form for servicers and attorneys to escalate matters with Fannie Mae. "Please reach out to us if you don't have information, communicate."

Speaking about how communications had become more streamlined between servicers, attorneys, and the GSEs over the years, Word said that the industry was in a much better place today than it was when the crisis hit. "Today, everybody's working together, there's more transparency."

Another break out session focused on the latest cases that need to be on the radar for servicers and law firms, and how they could impact the landscape going forward. This session was moderated by David A. Friedman, Senior Trial Attorney, Van Ness Law Firm, PLC and included Jane E. Bond, Managing Partner, Florida Litigation, Mccalla Raymer Leibert Pierce, William R. Pace, MidFirst Bank, Kent Pearson, Associate General Counsel, Fannie Mae, and Blake A. Strautins, Partner, Kluever & Platt, LLC on the panel.

During a session on how changes to the FDCPA could impact law firms and servicers, moderator Caren Castle, Senior Mortgage Servicing Attorney, The Wolf Firm, discussed the issue with panelists Daniel Chilton, Partner, Robertson, Anschutz and Schneid, PL, Brent Masters, Assistant General Counsel, Citigroup, Inc., Candace Russel, VP – Post Sale, Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC, and January Taylor, Managing Partner, McMichael Taylor Gray, LLC.

A panel moderated by Jim DeLoach, Senior Counsel, McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce, LLC and that included Kimberly Dawson, Director of Loss Mitigation, Fannie Mae, John A. Dunnery, VP, Government Loan Servicing, Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC, Lee S. Raphael, Owner and Managing Attorney, Prober & Raphael, A Law Corporation, and Neil Sherman, Managing Partner, Schneiderman & Sherman, P.C. discussed what lenders, servicers, and law firms are doing to streamline processes and ensure efficiency, all while maintaining cost savings and keeping up with the latest trends.

During the Servicer Super Session, panelists Mike Aiken, SVP and Associate General Counsel, Fay Servicing, LLC, Christopher L. Carman, Litigation and Compliance Counsel, BSI Financial Services, Jennifer Gordon, VP, Vendor Management, PennyMac, and Kristin Synan, Foreclosure Manager, LendingHome explored strategies for promoting more efficient and effective communication, escalation of non-routine issues, and inconsistent practices among servicers. This session was moderated by Diaz.

During his keynote address, Terry Smith, CEO, Rushmore Loan Management Services said that today regulators had very high expectations from servicers for due diligence. Speaking about how attorneys and servicers could work together to strengthen these processes, he said, "We can't miss those critical deadlines," and to be able to do that, "clear communication is a must so that things aren't delayed."

Smith also advised the audience that sometimes a simple foreclosure could become a much more serious matter that might require a more specialized skillset than what a firm possessed. "There's no harm in raising your hand to say that this requires specialized work."

The summit ended with Diaz reiterating the importance of these events. "Our goal is not only to grow relationships but to have an honest dialogue in an open forum like this one," he said.

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha is an independent writer and copy-editor, and a reporter for DS News. She is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her masters degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha, also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Houston, Texas.

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