Mortgage Assistance Relief Services - Proposed Rulemaking, Rule #546727-00030

Submission Number:
Ann Shaw
The Law Firm of Ann Shaw
Initiative Name:
Mortgage Assistance Relief Services - Proposed Rulemaking, Rule
I have many concerns regarding the proposed rules. Foremost, there is the attorney-client priviledge issue. I would be loath to advise any potential client that his conversations with me might be radomly taped to be reviewed by a third party. Indeed, merely the taping interferes with the attorny-client confidenital realtionship. The attorney-exemption as it it proposed is far too limited and limiting. It applies only to an attorney handling a bankruptcy "case" or a court "case". I have never pushed any client into filing a bankruptcy case or a court case, especially if there are other reasonable alternatives. In these times, it is often months, maybe years, between the first consultation I have with a client and the filing of a bankruptcy case. Sometimes, in the interim, we are able to rearrange the client's financial situation so that a bankruptcy case can be avoided. So, I have many clients who never have a "case". Further, in the regular course of my practice, I often advise clients regarding dealing with their mortgage lenders or other creditors, usually in an effort to avoid bankruptcy. As I read the proposed FTC regualtions, this portion of my practice might well come within the MARS definition. Then, I either have to change my fee stucture to comply with the requirements, or I have to change the manner in which I attempt to help my clients. Either way, it is my clients who suffer. The proposed regualtions unduly restrict the attorney-client relationship of any potential client facing foreclosure and any concientious attorney who may give advice. Until there is a face-to-face attorney-client conference and, usually, docuement review and information gathering, most careful lawyers are not certain of the most effective way to proceed in a given situation. The proposed FTC regualtions would impose burdens broadly upon all lawyers who might give advice about foreclosures before those lawyers even know what the client's problem is or its factual and legal aspects. This chills free speech and impedes attorney-client communication. As an analogy: Because some doctors have abused their patients, is it accepable to require that all doctor-patient examinations be videoed? Of course not. I am all too aware that some attorneys have extracted money from unknowing homeowners and provided no services in return. I have tried to help many homeowners who have faced foreclosure becuase an "on-line" modification company mislead them about the liklihood of a mortgage modification. But new regualtions need to address specifically the practices of those few attorneys involved in "modification scams" instead of interfering with the attorny-client relationship of every attorney in the untied States who practices real estate or bankruptcy law. The overbroad new regulations are all to likely to accomplsh the opposite of that they attempt. Unethical attorneys will just find the loopholes. Ethical attorneys who have worked diligently for their clients will decide to change the nature of their work for fear of inadvertently running afoul of these stringent new rules. Ann Shaw Attorney