While business may be booming these days, being a foreclosure attorney carries with it a certain stigma — whether deserved or not. Depending on your viewpoint, representing the rights of creditors is either a vital part of our nation’s property rights system or a dirty business. Perhaps even a little of both. That’s why a small but influential group of attorneys, looking to respond to an almost historic level of industry scrutiny, said earlier this week that they had formed their own political action committee. “It’s imperative that industry professionals make their voices heard and have an impact on the legislative changes that will affect the legal community, lenders and servicers, as well as the general public,” the group, called the Committee for Actual Real Estate Solutions, or CARES, said in a press statement Tuesday. “The foreclosure attorneys that represent lenders, servicers, and trustees are in a tough position.” Mike Roberts, a Little Rock, Ark.-based attorney, will be serving as the primary lobbyist for the organization. Other board members include Gerry Shapiro, founder of the LOGS Legal Network, and Adam Bendett, partner in the New York-based firm of Reiner, Reiner & Bendett, P.C., along with six other well-known industry attorneys. Joseph Smith, one of the founding board members at CARES and president at Default Mitigation Management, a Kentucky-based loan-workout specialist, said the motivation behind forming the group and its PAC was to provide legislators and policymakers with a “view from the trenches” — something that larger trade organizations, like the Mortgage Bankers Association, often can’t provide. Solving the current mortgage crisis, he says, is ultimately going to require strong input from the front lines. And — strange as it may seem to some — Smith believes that foreclosure attorneys are in a unique position to provide the sort of insight that other lobbying groups involved in the housing crisis don’t have. The group wants to push “actual working solutions driven from the day-to-day interaction of borrowers, servicers and law firms,” he said. “The intent of CARES is to push for methods to resolve the current crisis.” The default industry already has two large attorney-led trade groups, the American Legal and Financial Network and the USFN. Neither group currently maintains a presence on Capitol Hill, however, focusing instead on business development within the industry. Smith indicated that the new organization wanted to take a different focus. “Members of both those organizations are on the board and in the membership,” he said. “The intent of CARES is to work with any group that has a desire to resolve the issues of the day.” CARES said it is actively encouraging membership and contributions from legal professionals in the default industry as well as from related industry professionals that want to push for “meaningful and relevant legislative changes.”
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