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Adapting to an Evolving Regulatory Landscape

Legal League 100 Chair Stephen M. Hladik welcomes attendees to the 2022 Legal League 100 Spring Summit

In mid-May, Legal League 100 held its Spring Summit at The Joule in Dallas, Texas. An event open to all Legal League 100 members, associate members, mortgage servicing professionals, and government representatives, the semi-annual Servicer Summit is geared for the nation’s elite financial services law firms to discuss default policies, procedures, and emerging issues with leading mortgage servicing executives.

The event began with a Comprehensive Servicer Certification course, designed for those interested in receiving certification, and gaining a better understanding of the full servicing process, from beginning to end. Top attorneys were on hand to provide insight into the most important aspects of servicing and other relevant industry skills, including Bankruptcy 101, Advanced Bankruptcy, Foreclosure 101, Judicial vs. Non-Judicial Cases, Boarding/Independent Verification, How to Be a Witness, How to Sign Documents, and Documenting a Servicing File among others.

Day one of the event was capped off with a Welcome Reception where attendees had a chance to chat and network with their industry peers in-person.

Day two of the 2022 Legal League 100 Spring Summit kicked off with the Welcome & Opening Keynote, presented by Stephen M. Hladik, a Partner with Hladik, Onorato & Federman LLP, who also serves as Legal League 100 Chair. Hladik tackled the topic of “Due Diligence: Everything You Need to Know About the State of the Mortgage Industry.” Hladik, formerly a Deputy Attorney General in charge of the Harrisburg office of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection, brings a broad range of experience in mortgage foreclosure, bankruptcy, tax sale, and UDAP legal practice to his role as LL 100 Chair. A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Hladik obtained his law degree from Widener University, with honors, where he served as Internal Managing Editor of the Law Review. Hladik gained significant expertise in lending law enforcement while serving in the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection, handling UDAP, FDCPA, RESPA, and TILA cases.

The day continued after Hladik’s presentation with several educational offerings.

Speakers Hilary B. Bonial of Bonial & Associates P.C., Brooke E. Sanchez of Kent McPhail & Associates LLC, Graham Arceneaux of Graham, Arceneaux & Allen, and Shane Ellis of Specialized Loan Servicing took part in the “Table Talk: Modifications, Mediations and Objections, Oh My!” session. The speakers discussed loss mitigation and loan modifications in bankruptcy, when to use mediation, and how and when to file Objections to Plan. Speakers Casey Zachary of Fay Financial, Jane Bond of McCalla Raymer Leibert Pierce LLC, Michael Merritt of BOK Financial, Michelle Garcia Gilbert of Gilbert Garcia Group P.A., Ryan Bolden of PennyMac Loan Services LLC, and Sammy Hooda of Marinosci Law Group P.C. Panelists discussed how the federal government is distributing billions of dollars to distressed homeowners throughout the individual states. These experts detailed State Contracts, the timing of the process, the differences between the individual states’ procedures, volumes seen to date, the process within the servicers for handling of the funds, and much more.

The “Sales and Real Estate in Bankruptcy” session covered various real estate issues in the bankruptcy process, including sales pre- and post-confirmation, featuring speakers Keri P. Ebeck of Bernstein-Burkley P.C., Chris DeNardo of LOGS Legal Group LLP, and Alan Wolf of The Wolf Firm, a Law Corporation. With the rise in real estate values, this affects how a debtor provides for treatment of second and third mortgage liens in the plans as well as cramdowns and lien strips. Additionally, what happens when a debtor decides to sell their property after confirmation and the value has increased? Who gets to keep the money? With the increased home values, there are many factors that can impact a debtor’s bankruptcy.

The “Changes to Regulatory Compliance 2022” session covered the CFPB’s updates to Regulation F, including new model FDCPA forms, which took effect on November 30, 2021. While the new rules attempted to provide clear safe harbors for compliance by debt collectors, compliance issues have arisen for the mortgage default industry. Now that many of the COVID restrictions have ended and employees are returning to the office, servicers are beginning to increase audits and reviews including brining back on-site audits. A panel including Marcel Bryar of Mortgage Policy Advisors LLC, Rita M. Falcioni of Loan Guaranty Service, Jesse Loomis of Bid4Assets Inc., Ryan Bourgeois of Barrett, Daffin, Frappier, Turner, and Engel, C. Lance Margolin of The Margolin & Weinreb Law Group LLP, Amy Neumann of Flagstar Bank, and Jesse Randall from Black Dome Services LLC discussed issues that both firms and servicers are facing in complying with the new Regulation F rules, and the increased compliance requirements facing the industry now that many of the moratoriums are over and volumes are increasing.

The “Default Stumbling Blocks” session featured speakers Roy Diaz of Diaz Anselmo & Associates P.A., John Dunnery of Mr. Cooper, Bret Davis of Lamun Mock Cunnyngham & Davis P.C., James E. Clarke of Orlans PC, and Kathleen M. Massimo of Houser LLP discussing the multitude of stumbling blocks faced each day in the default business. Find out how to successfully navigate difficulties such as Zoom hearings, topics that are not case law, loss mitigation with incomplete packages, pay offering reinstatement, case management, etc.

Nearly two full years of the default process grinding to a near complete stop, work is resuming. Firms and servicers had worked for years to build strong teams, implement compliance-driven processes, and optimize workflows to best handle loans in foreclosure. But throughout the extended moratoria, staff moved to different jobs and companies were forced to reduce resources that they had dedicated to managing the many tasks. Big scale was gone, functions were consolidated, and processes were completely reengineered to work in the environment created by the moratoria. The “Table Talk: A Collaborative Restart” session covered the retooling, restarting, and retesting the machinery, all while we are also having to hire and train new staff. A panel featuring Chad A. Neel of McCarthy Holthus, Jaime Burgess of Mr. Cooper, Nolan Turner of Carrington Holding Company, Melissa Black of PennyMac Loan Services LLC, Lisa Lee of KML Law Group P.C., and Jane Larkin of Colonial Savings discussed retesting the controls, and collaborating together with all parties as the industry has begun to resume regular workloads.

Legal League 100 Chair Hladik returned for day two, for an Afternoon Keynote and industry update, also featuring presentations from J. Anthony Van Ness of the Van Ness Law Firm and Patrick Cox of CeLink.

Closing out the event was a look at what lies ahead for the remainder of 2022, discussing trending topics, and how the industry has resumed bringing new cases, litigation will be adjusting to the challenges of updated processes, laws, and regulatory mandates. A panel including Eric Houser of Houser LLP, Clayton Gordon Esq. of Carrington Mortgage Services, Mortgage Servicing Division, David Friedman of Van Ness Law Firm PLC, Dean Meyer of Freddie Mac, and Robert D. Forster II of BDF Law Group discussed key issues that have been observed nationwide by both in-house and outside counsel.

The event concluded with another networking opportunity for participants to meet in person and discuss takeaways from the event.

As part of the 2022 Five Star Conference and Expo in Dallas this September, Legal League 100 will host its 2022 Fall Servicing Summit, set for Monday, September 19, with a day of education to receive your Comprehensive Servicer Certification the following day, Tuesday, September 20. Click here for more information or to register for the event.

Attendees network at the Legal League 100 Spring Summit Opening Networking Reception


J. Anthony Van Ness of the Van Ness Law Firm, Patrick Cox of CeLink, and Stephen M. Hladik with Hladik, Onorato & Federman LLP take part in a lively discussion during the Afternoon Keynote and Industry Update

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.

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