“I am not a crook,” am I?

Nov 7, 2023 | Foreclosure

Long story short, I heard that there’s someone out there calling me a crook!  She thinks I’m a crook because I tried helping a friend of hers, who retained me and paid me attorney’s fees, but I was unable to keep the client in her home permanently.  So it sounds like I have an unhappy client and this is how she feels about her experience with me, and she told a friend she was unhappy, and the friend thinks I’m a crook.  Huh, people think attorneys are crooks?  (I’ll get back to this in a minute.)

The results of my help usually go in only two directions:  we are either able to save the house and the client gets back on track and starts paying their mortgage payment again, or the client is unable to afford a mortgage payment or their mortgage company just doesn’t offer any assistance (or both), and the client ends up having to move out.

I don’t know who the client is who complained to her friend, or which way her case went.  I know, though, that whatever the result, I offered value in the form of:

  • Explaining the client’s options
  • Being available and guiding them through the court process
  • Slowing down the process to give the client time to regroup financially (= buying time)
  • Navigating the process of requesting mortgage assistance for the client
  • Giving the client a specific attorney’s fee to pay so there is no risk of a surprise, unaffordable attorney’s fee bill at any time

I’m often told that working with me, people immediately start sleeping better—I hear this so often that I joke that I should put “Sleep Specialist” on my business card!  Sometimes the value people get from working with me (or any attorney) is intangible, and that can be hard.  People pay my fees but don’t seem to “get” anything in return.  How can I put a dollar amount on time? On peace of mind?  On the feeling of control over your situation?  I don’t know, but I know that’s what you get when you work with a good lawyer.

But people think lawyers are crooks.  It’s a common stereotype and lawyers are often caricatured as thieves who take advantage of those in need.  I believe that is one reason people don’t even dare pick up the phone to call a lawyer when they need help.  They are afraid of being ripped off.  Some people think I will bill them just for having a quick introductory conversation when I’m figuring out whether I can help someone, and it’s that fear of having to pay- an unknown amount- that prevents people from picking up the phone.  I don’t know any attorney who randomly bills a client for merely evaluating their situation.  And I have never spoken to someone who has actually had that (bad) experience.  I think everyone would agree, too, that it doesn’t automatically make an attorney a crook when they charge for their services.

So why did this person, whose friend had been my client, characterize me as a crook?  I wonder if that person had ever used an attorney and what kind of experience she had.  I wonder if that person really thought about what benefits her friend– my client- was receiving in exchange for the fees she paid.   I wonder if she felt her friend could have been better helped another way, maybe even for free.  I don’t think I will ever know.

I don’t have a problem with critics of me or my work or with critics of the legal profession in general.  Knowing critics are out there, I work every day to give my clients a good experience with the legal system.  I deliver high quality legal assistance, I explain and educate so that my clients feel they have some control over their situation, and I’d like to think they will demand the same of the next attorney when they need a lawyer again.  So, keep calling me a crook so that I can keep evaluating and tweaking and making sure my clients get what they pay for. I’ll never have a problem with that.

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I’ll talk to anyone who is currently behind on their mortgage, thinks they may not be able to afford their mortgage in the coming months, or is already in foreclosure. The earlier we talk, the more options you have.

… Sarah Poriss.

Sarah Poriss, Attorney at Law, LLC is the largest woman-owned foreclosure defense law firm in Connecticut, providing homeowners with quality legal counsel in foreclosure mediation and foreclosure defense.

Working at Consumer Law Group in Rocky Hill, Connecticut for four years, Sarah specialized in representing consumers facing financial crises like debt collection harassment and identity theft. Upon opening her own office, she expanded her focus to defending consumers sued by credit card companies and representing homeowners in foreclosure.

Sarah has elevated her practice by exclusively representing clients with money issues. She played a crucial role in drafting foreclosure mediation rules as a member of Connecticut’s Bench-Bar Foreclosure Committee for seven years.

Additionally, she contributed to the Bench-Bar Small Claims Committee to enhance clarity in small claims proceedings and ensure debt collectors provide substantial evidence to win cases.

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