Notre Dame Law School’s Economic Justice Clinic Saves A Home from Foreclosure

Author: Lauren Love

When Scott Miller, a single father of three kids and small business owner, was at risk of losing his home to foreclosure, Notre Dame Law School’s Economic Justice Clinic helped to make sure that didn’t happen.

“Some people can save their homes by themselves, but not very many,” said Judith Fox, clinical professor of law and director of the clinic. “You really need some sort of housing counselor — and they are in short supply — and for the complicated issues, you need a lawyer.”

Miller fell behind on his mortgage payments in the aftermath of managing a number of family crises and caring for his children with only one income. He learned that his loan had been transferred and a new servicer had already begun the foreclosure process.

Miller sought help from LaCasa, a nonprofit housing agency that is a part of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program.

Miller applied and received a loan modification in 2012. However, the loan servicer never recorded the modification. LaCasa could not force the bank to accept the modification and referred Miller to the Economic Justice Clinic — he needed a lawyer.

“In Miller’s case, we worked with the new servicer to correct the problem,” Fox said. Notre Dame Law students also worked on Miller’s case. “This was an issue of the bank ignoring the law. Sadly that’s still pretty pervasive.”

Miller and his advocates spent nearly two years working with his loan servicer to correct the delinquency. The correct permanent loan modification was processed in February 2016.

“I can’t say enough good things about my heroes at LaCasa and the Justice Center,” Miller said in a report released by NeighborWorks America. “They never gave up, so neither did I!”

More than 2 million homeowners have received foreclosure prevention counseling by local nonprofits, national intermediaries, and state housing finance agencies participating in the NFMC program, the report said.

Congress created the NFMC program in 2007 to address the nation’s foreclosure crisis. State and local agencies and nonprofits manage the program by offering mitigation counseling services.

The Economic Justice Clinic provides free legal services to low-income clients in consumer law matters. Notre Dame Law students, under the supervision of the clinical faculty, represent clients in cases involving mortgage foreclosures, fraud, predatory lending, land contract scams, foreclosure rescue scams, and debt collection. Additionally, the clinic works with local community agencies to provide consumer education to targeted populations.