New York's largest foreclosure law firm is shutting its doors. ""Steven J. Baum, PC"":http://www.mbaum.com/SJB/index.jsp has found itself embroiled in a PR firestorm, and now, after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac instructed servicers to pull their business from the firm, it's closing up shop.[IMAGE]
Both GSEs ""issued notices"":http://dsnews.comarticles/baum-law-firm-barred-from-handling-gses-new-foreclosures-2011-11-17 earlier this month prohibiting servicers from referring new foreclosure cases to the Baum law firm. Fannie Mae followed with a directive Monday telling servicers to start transferring existing cases from Steven J. Baum to other approved firms in New York.
According to media reports, several other large mortgage servicers, such as Bank of America, have also cut the firm off from handling their foreclosure business.
The firm's principal, Steven Baum, signaled his company was about to go dark late last week in a letter to _New York Times_ columnist Joe Nocera.
""Mr. Nocera - You have destroyed everything and everyone related to Steven J. Baum PC. It took 40 years to build this firm and three weeks to tear down,"" Baum wrote to Nocera.[COLUMN_BREAK]
Nocera received a stack of photos from an employee of the Baum law firm which were taken at the company's 2010 Halloween party. The images depicted staff dressed as distressed homeowners down on their luck, stationed in front of elaborate scenes that ""showed an appalling lack of compassion,"" according to the employee.
Baum's letter to Nocera blamed the columnist's ""photo expose"":http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/29/opinion/what-the-costumes-reveal.html for the firm's fall from grace.
But the New York attorney had bigger publicity problems than a Halloween slide show. In early October, the Baum law firm ""agreed to pay $2 million"":http://dsnews.comarticles/us-fines-new-york-law-firm-2m-for-improper-foreclosures-2011-10-10 to end an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into its foreclosure practices.
The inquiry focused on whether the firm and its attorneys filed misleading pleadings, affidavits, and mortgage assignments related to foreclosure actions.
_The Buffalo News_ reports attorneys with the Baum law firm have refused to comply with a state statute that went into effect a year ago, requiring lendersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and servicersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ legal counsel to sign affidavits attesting to the accuracy of documentation used in foreclosure hearings.
The upstate New York publication ""recounted a court hearing"":http://www.buffalonews.com/business/article624280.ece earlier this month in which lawyers with the Baum firm petitioned the judge to declare as Ã¢â‚¬Å“unconstitutionalÃ¢â‚¬Â the state requirement that documents used in a court proceeding be valid and accurate.
The law firm of Steven J. Baum PC filed a notice with the New York State Department of Labor late last week, alerting state authorities that it will be laying off some 80-plus employees.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is blood on your hands for this one, Joe,Ã¢â‚¬Â Steve Baum wrote in a second email to Nocera. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will never, ever forgive you for this.Ã¢â‚¬Â