U of I Law Clinic Benefits from Foreclosure Settlement
By Jeff Bossert
Funds from a national foreclosure settlement will help University of Illinois students help others avoid the prospect of losing their home.
State Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a grant of $403,271 for the Community Preservation Clinic at the school’s College of Law.
Madigan said the program allows students to help residents in McLean County’s Mandatory Foreclosure Mediation Program, and it gives legal help for tenants in Champaign County who are living in foreclosed properties.
In a visit to the U of I College of Law Tuesday, Madigan said most homeowners do not even avail themselves of the chance to go to court.
“They end up losing their homes, they end up spending more money than they need to," she said. "But with the program that the University of Illinois College of Law has put together, we have law students who are helping to save people’s homes, and it is just a win-win situation.”
The program currently enrolls 11 students. Madigan said the goal is designed to ensure that homeowners going through the process have an advocate.
“If somebody actually has a lawyer, we more than double their chances of a successful outcome," she said. "In other words, some sort of a principal reduction or a loan modification that allows them to stay in their home. Or if they can’t stay in their homes for financial reasons, at least a graceful exit.”
Preservation Clinic Director Stacey Tutt said the program reduces the costs sustained by lenders, borrowers and taxpayers while students get real-life experience.
She said the three year grant will let the School of Law add a foreclosure fellow helping in supervision, let the clinic add more clients, and become involved in more complex litigation.
The funding stems from Madigan’s role in securing a $25-billion settlement, which addressed ‘robo-signing’ of foreclosure documents and other fraudulent bank practices while handling loans of struggling homeowners.
Tuesday's annoucement is among the series of distributions of that funding, hich benefit legal assistance programs, counseling services and community revitalization efforts.