Foreclosures resulting from subprime and predatory lending have dominated the economic, political and legal headlines in recent months. With certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn being hit particularly, it is unsurprising that the Kings County Supreme Court noted a dramatic increase in its foreclosure filings and soon appealed for help from Brooklyn's pro bono and legal services organizations.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project, with assistance from the BBA President Diana Szochet, issued a call to the Brooklyn legal community asking for pro bono involvement and support. The response was immediate and widespread, resulting in a Foreclosure Pro Bono Panel of close to 50 attorneys. This Panel is the foundation upon which the VLP has launched its first Pro Bono Foreclosure Intervention Program ("FIP"), supported by funding from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal and The David Berg Foundation.
To this critical and complex initiative, the VLP is pleased to announce the appointment as of March 30 of Jaime Lathrop, a Brooklyn solo practitioner who is no stranger to the Brooklyn Bar Association, the VLP or the pro bono publico cause.
The VLP's Pro Bono Foreclosure Intervention Program will provide a broad continuum of assistance to poor and low-income families caught in the wave of foreclosures that threaten to decimate many of Brooklyn's neighborhoods. And although the VLP quickly began assigning matters to its panel of eager and talented volunteer attorneys, it is with the appointment of Mr. Lathrop that the VLP's program will be able to swing into full force.
"We are so pleased to have Jaime Lathrop on board with the VLP," says Jeannie Costello, Executive Director of the VLP. "Jimmy is not only an experienced veteran volunteer with the VLP, he is always one step ahead of the fast moving pace of foreclosure related legal issues – government strategies, court procedures, new programming, litigation strategies and resources for homeowners. The volunteer attorneys on the Foreclosure Pro Bono Panel – and the homeowners of Brooklyn – will be very well served by someone as knowledgeable and motivated as Jimmy.”
Mr. Lathrop will be working closely with the volunteer attorneys of the VLP Foreclosure Pro Bono Panel, coordinating and overseeing cases, mentoring and arranging for training where needed, as well as handling his own docket of foreclosure cases. He will also be working on behalf of the VLP in partnership with the highly-respected South Brooklyn Legal Services ("SBLS") Foreclosure Prevention Project, which staffs a walk-in foreclosure clinic at Kings County Supreme Court. Seasoned SBLS attorneys will conduct the initial client intake and assessment that will determine whether a foreclosure case is appropriate for referral to the VLP for pro bono assistance and will prepare essential case summaries of homeowners requiring limited representation by pro bono attorneys at mandatory court settlement conferences conducted pursuant to Chapter 472 of the Laws of 2008, passed by the New York Legislature last August. The VLP pro bono program will also provide assistance to homeowners in the areas of negotiated loan modifications under new federal programs, bankruptcy filings, short sales and predatory lending foreclosure defense.
As a solo practitioner, Mr. Lathrop spent several years working for settlement agents conducting refinances of residential properties and became intimately familiar with the closing documents, HUD statements, underwriting procedures and industry terminology and accounting practices that underlie property sales and refinancing. In addition to his extensive experience in real estate transactions and litigation, Mr. Lathrop has been an active participant in the Volunteer Lawyers Project for the Housing Part of Kings County Civil Court. A 2002 graduate of Brooklyn Law School, he started his own practice upon admission; his practice also included elder law, criminal defense and business litigation. Mr. Lathrop is admitted to practice in New York and Connecticut, as well as the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. In addition to his membership in the Brooklyn Bar Association, Mr. Lathrop is affiliated with the New York State Bar Association, New York County Lawyers Association and the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association.
Mr. Lathrop's ongoing commitment to pro bono is well demonstrated: for the past three years, he was awarded the honorary title of "Empire State Counsel" by the New York State Bar Association for performing more than 150 hours of pro bono work for the VLP and others. A resident of Park Slope with his wife, Erin Sayar, and their three-month old daughter, Chloe Elizabeth, Mr. Lathrop has an unabashed excitement for pro bono work. "It is a passion that brings me tremendous satisfaction," explains Mr. Lathrop "and I hope that my enthusiasm is infectious so that the attorneys who participate in the Pro Bono Foreclosure Intervention Program experience the same pride and satisfaction of volunteering for the sake of public good as I have."
If you are interested in joining the VLP in its exciting new Pro Bono Foreclosure Intervention Program, please contact Jaime Lathrop, Foreclosure Intervention Program Director.