The Mortgage Clinic
This placement clinic is open to students who have taken The Mortgage Crisis or who are currently enrolled in it. Students will be placed at Southern Arizona Legal Aid (SALA), where they will work with homeowners at risk of losing their homes. Other placements may become available. Students will be supervised by experienced attorneys and learn to interview clients about their debt problems, to organize clients' finances and come up with sustainable budgets, and to sort them according to needed relief, whether it is a negotiated mortgage modification without use of the courts or a bankruptcy filing as a means to save a home.
The two main projects of the clinic in the short term are helping borrowers with negotiated mortgage modifications outside of bankruptcy or, where non-judicial foreclosure has already been started, putting borrowers into bankruptcy, often to pursue modification there as well.
Students will learn how to apply for mortgage modifications and how to advocate on behalf of clients during the application process. They will also learn to prepare bankruptcy cases, including the work of drafting schedules of assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, and other paperwork. The main focus will be on interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and preparation of needed paperwork for non-bankruptcy modification or for bankruptcy. Students also will help prepare debtors for the First Meeting of Creditors in bankruptcy, conducted by a bankruptcy trustee to examine each debtor about the debtor's financial situation. These are non-judicial hearings, at which judges are explicitly forbidden by law to appear. There will also be opportunities to attend these meetings as well as Bankruptcy Court hearings, although court appearances in the legal aid cases are few and far between, so representation of clients in court is unlikely during the clinical placement.
Students must devote a minimum of 150 hours to clinic work to obtain 3 credits. They also will keep journals and meet regularly with Professor Braucher both one on one and in groups to discuss what they are learning and the challenges they are encountering and ways to address them. Students will be encouraged to articulate lessons of more general application about effective techniques of interviewing, counseling, and negotiation, the main forms of assistance that students will provide. Students are also likely to have opportunities to do legal research and writing on issues that arise in the bankruptcy cases.