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GU Law Offers Free Legal Help to Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

Posted on April 16, 2012 in: Academics, Events, Feature Stories, Law Clinic, Law School, Students
Gonzaga University Law Clinic

Gonzaga University is one of two law schools in the state of Washington offering free legal help for homeowners in foreclosure; the other is Seattle University School of Law. Photo by Rajah Bose

Dramatic Spokane Lawsuit Tests New State Mortgage Law

SPOKANE, Wash. – A new state law gives Washington state homeowners facing foreclosure the right to request mediation, and a Gonzaga University School of Law program is available to help qualifying area homeowners ensure that banks negotiate with them in good faith to prevent foreclosures.

New Washington Foreclosure Law

The new law, which took effect in July, requires that banks complete mediation “in good faith” when homeowners request it before banks are allowed to complete foreclosures. According to RealtyTrac, some 19,304 homes are in foreclosure in the state as of March (2012). In a first test of the new law, a homeowner represented by the mostly student-run GU Law School Mortgage Mediation Clinic stopped foreclosure on his home last month – hours before he would have lost his house.

Free Legal Assistance for up to 90 Homeowners

The Mortgage Mediation Clinic is funded by a $30,000 grant from the state attorney general’s office. Homeowners in foreclosure without access to other assistance may qualify for free legal assistance from Gonzaga’s Mortgage Mediation Clinic. While the original contract stated the Clinic would help 30 homeowners during 2012, clinic faculty Associate Professor Al McNeil and retired Superior Court Judge Richard White estimate the Clinic will take 60 to 90 cases.

Law Students Help Settle Foreclosures

“It is our job to help the homeowner work with the bank to find the best solution,” said White. Working with a team of 13 students, the Clinic already has assisted 19 clients.

“A few of the cases have already settled before reaching mediation, and most of the cases that do enter mediation are being resolved in one way or another within a few months,” McNeil said.

To request assistance or for more information, contact the Gonzaga Center for Law and Justice at (509) 313-5791.

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