Firm Dominates Foreclosures, but Faces Growing Criticism
Attorneys who represent lenders bringing foreclosures are "an easy target for criticism" in the current economic climate, says Steven J. Baum, who runs by far the largest New York state firm offering services to what its website calls the "default industry."
Indeed, Baum and his firm, Steven J. Baum, P.C., have faced increasing criticism with a surge in foreclosures sought by client lenders, who have been struggling to mop up the financial debris from the burst housing bubble.
The once-obscure Buffalo-area firm has become a fixture in courthouses throughout the state. Last year, it sought judicial action in 17,620 foreclosure cases, nearly 40 percent of the 46,572 reported by the court system. (The statewide total has more than doubled from the 22,601 recorded in 2005).
While Baum's business has soared, however, his firm has been reviled as a "foreclosure mill" that tramples on the rights of homeowners.
Critics claim the Baum firm's high-volume practice makes it prone to error and inconsistencies. Adversaries accuse it of "sloppy" work, inadequate documentation for the actions it brings and poor communications. One federal suit even accuses it of knowingly filing "false and fraudulent" court documents.
Several judges have faulted the Baum firm's lawyers for what the judges said was the firm's failure to prove its clients owned properties on which they were seeking to foreclose -- an area that has been muddied by "securitization" of mortgages and their serial assignment from one institution to another.http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202482932807&Firm_Dominates_Foreclosures_but_Faces_Growing_Criticism&slreturn=1&hbxlogin=1