This week, Jaime Lathrop, Brooklyn Law School Class of 2002, was the featured speaker at the New York State Bar Association's General Practice Section's Annual Meeting at the Hilton New York. Lathrop, who was was a Notes & Comments Editor of the Brooklyn Law School Law Review, is the director of the Pro Bono Foreclosure Intervention Program of the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project. The program assists poor and low-income families facing foreclosures in Brooklyn’s neighborhoods. He also works on behalf of VLP in partnership with the South Brooklyn Legal Services Foreclosure Prevention Project, which staffs a walk-in foreclosure clinic at Kings County Supreme Court. Since March 2009, Lathrop has worked with a team of 80 lawyers doing pro bono work for homeowners facing foreclosure. “I recruit, train and assign volunteer lawyers who represent homeowners in settlement conferences, negotiate workouts and help with mortgage modifications for Brooklyn homeowners in foreclosure.” Lathrop feels for homeowners who face dire financial situations as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis. “We have a system of law in the United States that left unchecked will always favor the interests of the few over the interests of many,” says Lathrop. “It is important for attorneys to see that everyone gets equal protection under the law.”
Last year, aHuffington Post story called America Fights Foreclosure: Lifelines for People Fighting to Keep Their Homes featured the Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyers Project calling it a “lifeline for people trying to avoid foreclosure”. It matches up volunteer attorneys from private practice with people in need of critical legal services. Its mission is to “help people regain dignity and control over their lives”. VLP receives funding from the New York Bar Association as well as private donors.
An article in the Brooklyn Barrister, the publication of the Brooklyn Bar Association, reported that last October, the “Volunteer Lawyers Project was honored as one of the premiere pro bono programs of New York State. To celebrate National Pro Bono Week, the New York State Bar Association, the New York State Courts and the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York presented the VLP with a 2010 Pro Bono Service Award for its innovative programming to assist Brooklyn residents facing overwhelming legal issues related to consumer debt. CLARO, the weekly consumer debt clinic in Kings County Civil Court, which originated with the VLP in 2006 in partnership with a pro bono student action group at Brooklyn Law School, has now been replicated city-wide.”