Pro bono attorney Stephen Mosca started with the foreclosure defense case of his client.
When it appeared that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy action would be in his client’s best interest, he agreed to assist her with that also. His efforts resulted in his client regaining solid financial and personal footing. Read Mosca’s interview:
What were the basic facts of your case?
When we took the case, the client was simultaneously going through a contentious divorce and a reduction of hours at her job, which resulted in a financial hardship. The client and her 6-year-old daughter were living in the family home, but the financial hardship enabled the bank to file for foreclosure. This was in early 2009 when the economy had crashed due to the banks’ irresponsible practices, which, in turn, caused the client’s reduction of hours in the first place.
What were you able to accomplish for your client?
We fought the foreclosure by making the bank answer basic questions regarding transfer and ownership of the note, as well as other basic contractual terms for which they were responsible. During that time, the client was able to get back on a solid financial footing. Having stable housing during this period also allowed her daughter to remain in her school, the divorce to proceed through the courts and everyone’s level of stress to not include an imminent eviction notice. By the time the foreclosure case ended in late 2013, we were able to negotiate an extended sale date that would get the client close to having access to a new home. At that time, we filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to further stave off the sale as well as to discharge any deficiency judgment resulting from the eventual sale of the original home.
Why was the outcome important to your client?
This time spent in the family home lent much-needed stability to the client’s family. Her daughter benefited from that stability in every way, and in those four years, the economy improved, the underlying value of the home recovered somewhat, the client was promoted at work and now makes more money, and she remarried with plans to buy a new home with her husband. JALA’s assistance literally allowed her to change her life on her own terms by granting her just a little more time than she would have otherwise had.
Why was the experience important to you? That is, what did you gain from the experience?
One reason for being a lawyer is to help people in an immediate, personal and tangible way, and this was certainly one of those cases. During the course of my representation, I grew as an attorney, learned a great deal about foreclosure defense, civil law, generally, and bankruptcy law, but I also had the pleasure of seeing my efforts being rewarded directly as my client and her child recovered from their hardship and moved on with renewed resources and purpose.
With what firm do you work and what are your primarily areas of practice?
I have my own solo practice, the Mosca Law Firm, P.A., and most of the work I perform centers around criminal defense. By assisting this client, I have been able to expand my practice and experience different areas of law so that I can assist others in similar ways. It’s a win-win.
What advice do you have for other attorneys considering pro bono involvement?
I would encourage all attorneys to perform some pro bono work in the normal course of their business. It is an easily recognizable fact that quality legal representation is both costly and necessary, making it a luxury available to the few but needed by the many. Therefore, if you have the talent and the resources to contribute, you should strive to fill that gap in whatever ways possible. You learn from every experience, but this sort of experience is also rewarding in so many ways that you are really cheating yourself if you don’t participate.
Attorneys who are interested in pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, chairwoman, The JBA Pro Bono Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.