One of the most important steps a homeowner can take in defending a foreclosure lawsuit is to seek out an attorney to represent him/her in the matter. There are many attorneys practicing in the area of foreclosure defense in the Chicagoland area. Some are better than others.
To get a sense of the attorney’s worth, check the attorney out on review websites such as Avvo, Yelp, or Google. Avvo has a somewhat convoluted rating system that assigns a numerical value based on a number of factors including length of time spent practicing as an attorney. Therefore, older attorneys tend to have ratings near perfect more often than newer attorneys or mid-career attorneys. Due to this, the numerical value is not as important as the actual reviews left on Avvo. Under each attorney’s profile, you can see the attorney’s reviews left by clients, and endorsements from other attorneys. This permits you to get a sense of how others perceive the value of the attorney. While one bad review does not mean the attorney is poor (disgruntled clients who did not win their cases sometimes choose to leave poor reviews out of spite), beware of attorneys with many bad reviews as this indicates a pattern of dissatisfaction. Many attorneys offer a free consultation so you can meet with the attorney to determine if the attorney will be a good fit.
If you determine that you are unable to afford an attorney, there are non-profits that assist homeowners in foreclosure defense for those who qualify. In Chicago, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services offers some amount of foreclosure defense. In Lake County, Prairie State Legal Services offers foreclosure defense as well. Lake County also offers a “foreclosure help desk” during the foreclosure court calls to permit unrepresented homeowners to obtain basic information about the process. This is a good resource to utilize when you are just getting started in the matter.
Lastly, many counties in the Chicagoland area offer mediation. It is beneficial for homeowners to undertake mediation with the assistance of an attorney knowledgeable in loan modifications and other forms of loss mitigation. That way, if the homeowner is wrongfully denied a modification the attorney can challenge the denial and attempt to negotiate some other form of workout. Never rely on the premise that the foreclosing bank is working in your best interest.
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For a novice level guide to foreclosure, check out NOLO’s guide on Amazon.