New foreclosure task force aims to improve laws, train attorneys

Issue November 2010 By Jennifer Rosinski

The Massachusetts Bar Association has created the Joint Foreclosure Legislation Task Force, which strives to improve both the state's foreclosure law and borrowers' access to assistance in the foreclosure process.

A collaboration among bar associations, legal services, real estate attorneys and bankers' associations, the task force plans to draft a legislative proposal to modernize foreclosure law in Massachusetts and ensure a fair and efficient foreclosure process.

"The development of this task force comes at a critical time, when many Massachusetts residents are struggling to stay in their homes," MBA President Denise Squillante said. "The MBA hopes this new effort will result in a more streamlined foreclosure process in Massachusetts ­- making it easier for both homeowners and their attorneys to navigate the system."

The task force includes representatives from the MBA's Property Law and Access to Justice sections, as well as the Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Bankers Association, the Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association, Western Massachusetts Legal Services, and other real estate practitioners.

"Piecemeal changes to the state's mortgage foreclosure laws over the years have created a foreclosure process that is incomprehensible to borrowers and disruptive to lenders trying to comply with the law," said Elizabeth J. Barton, task force chair and vice chair of the MBA's Property Law Section. "The task force strives to build a clear, open and understandable foreclosure process, from the ground up, which will benefit both homeowners and lenders."

In conjunction with the task force, the MBA has formed the Foreclosure Education Committee to teach attorneys how to counsel and advocate for individuals facing foreclosure. The free education program kicked off with an Oct. 28 seminar covering changes in foreclosure laws.

The program is available via MBA On Demand, which allows users to watch programming from the comfort of their home or office. Seminars to follow will cover topics that include HAMP Loan Modifications, Alternatives to Foreclosure and others. Look for upcoming free MBA On Demand programs as part of the "Education for Attorneys Who Represent Individuals Facing Foreclosure" series.