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February 10, 2009

STATE BAR ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES NEW MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE EDUCATION PROGRAM TO ASSIST HOMEOWNERS

The 'People's Law School' Series Addresses Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis, Provides Important Advice and Tips to Help People Keep Their Homes

With the recent economic downturn and mortgage foreclosure crisis resulting in the loss of more than 41,200 homes throughout the state last year, the New York State Bar Association today announced a new video specially designed to help homeowners retain their most important investment - their homes.  The free service is part of the State Bar's People's Law School -- a series of online and recorded programs covering today's most important legal topics.

The program, called "Saving Your Home from Foreclosure," is an easy-to-understand 25-minute presentation that explains the often complex details of the mortgage foreclosure process.  Available on the Association's Web site at http://www.nysba.org/thepeopleslawschool, the video focuses specific attention on the provisions of New York's new Foreclosure Prevention and Responsible Lending Act of 2008 that entitles all state homeowners with subprime loans in foreclosure to a mandatory court settlement conference.  The settlement conference is designed to provide a forum for the lender and the borrower to meet together with a mediator with the ultimate goal of achieving a workable resolution to avoid a loan foreclosure.

The video was recorded at the New York State Bar Center and features Peter V. Coffey of the firm of Englert, Coffey, McHugh & Fantauzzi, LLP in Schenectady, and Anne Reynolds Copps of the Law Office of Anne Reynolds Copps in Albany.  The video also will be distributed to courthouses throughout the state and in New York City.  

 "Owning a home is a vital part of the American Dream.  Yet that dream is becoming a nightmare as homeownership falls further and further out of reach for tens of thousands of New Yorkers who face foreclosure," said State Bar President Bernice K. Leber (Arent Fox LLP).  "Not only are the homeowners affected by losing their homes, but the domino effect reverberates across neighborhoods and throughout the business community.  This outstanding State Bar program provides the public with important foreclosure prevention tips and advises homeowners that help is available so that they do not have to face the terrifying thought of a foreclosure proceeding on their own."

In addition to covering the mortgage foreclosure settlement conferences, the "Saving Your Home from Foreclosure" program advises homeowners of where they can find qualified housing counselors, legal service offices, and other sources of assistance.  It describes the documents that homeowners should assemble before meeting with a housing counselor or an attorney, and provides information for those who need help finding an attorney. 

In addition to The People's Law School seminar for the public, the State Bar Association also co-sponsored a free mortgage foreclosure training program designed to encourage attorneys to provide free legal counsel to homeowners, and has made a recording of that seminar and the written materials available to local and minority bar associations throughout the state. 

The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.  Founded in 1876, the Association's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.

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