Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do You Have a Lawyer Personality?

According to the Hildebrandt study, lawyers are:

• High scorers on learning, "suggesting that they value education and enjoy academic activities";

• Self-critical and temperamental;

• Lousy on interpersonal sensitivity. They are task-oriented and speak their minds, coming across as "cold, critical, and argumentative";

• Easily excitable, "becoming tense and overly critical";

• Cautious to the extent they have a hard time taking risks and making decisions; and

• Resistant to authority and skeptical of others.

Still, the report finds that lawyers "prefer environments that are stylish, entertaining, and flexible"--though those preferences seem to be mainly expressed by associates rather than partners. In other words, by the time associates become partners, the vestiges of hedonism have probably been beaten out of them.

Regulators Propose Tough New Down Payments for Home Loans

Having failed to head off a catastrophic rise in reckless mortgages during the housing bubble, federal regulators released a proposal yesterday that could make mortgages more expensive if the borrowers do not put at least 20 percent down- and even bigger down payments if people are refinancing, CongressDaily reported yesterday. The proposed rules would also lean against adjustable-rate loans and set much tougher income requirements for borrowers. The proposal, which is more than 300-pages long and asks for public comment on scores of unresolved questions, was drafted jointly by about a half-dozen federal banking and financial regulatory agencies.

House Votes to End Obama Foreclosure-Relief Program

The GOP-controlled House voted 252-170 yesterday to eliminate the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), the Obama administration's main program to provide foreclosure relief, CongressDaily reported today. Created nearly two years ago, HAMP has helped 600,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure, according to administration officials. Republicans argue that the program wastes taxpayer dollars and point out that the administration initially promised that it would help 3 million to 4 million homeowners. The bill has little chance of becoming law, since the Democratic-controlled Senate is almost certain to block it and the White House has threatened to veto it. However, 50 Democrats led by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner demanding that regulators "immediately" fix a slew of mortgage-servicing problems. The group said that it was not giving up on HAMP but was fed up with the program's meager results.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pot Trademarks- Protecting IP

Entrepreneurs pouring money into the cultivation and dispensing of marijuana stand to take big losses if they don't lock down their intellectual property. The catch is that pot remains illegal under federal law.

Florida AG Announces $2M Settlement With FC Law Firm$file/WatsonAVC.pdf

The Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson PA, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based foreclosure attorney firm, has agreed to pay $2 million to settle allegations by the state's office of the attorney general that the firm improperly prosecuted foreclosure cases. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced the settlement Friday.

Florida led the nation in the investigation of law firms engaged in the improper production and filing of foreclosure documents. The Marshall Watson firm fully cooperated with the investigation since its inception. Half of the $2 million payment from Marshall Watson’s firm to the Attorney General’s Office will be contributed to the Florida Bar Foundation to continue the Florida Attorney General Mortgage Foreclosure Grant Program. This grant program provides for the funding of Legal Aid attorney positions throughout Florida specifically devoted to the representation of low-income individuals facing foreclosure actions.

Loan Lockdown: Could Mediation Leave Servicers' Hands Tied?

Several pieces of servicing-related legislation were introduced in the first month of the 112th U.S. Congress. Among the bills brought to the floor in the Senate was the Limiting Investor and Homeowner Loss in Foreclosure Act of 2010 (S.222), which would amend the Bankruptcy Code and grant courts nationwide the authority to order servicers and borrowers.

OCC Issues Warning on Real Estate-Owned Exchange Programs

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has issued a notice to the chief executives of all the lenders it regulates warning them of the risks involved in real estate-owned exchange programs. Several companies have started marketing real estate-owned exchange programs to national banks as a means to reduce problem assets on their balance sheets, but the OCC says these programs "can raise significant safety and soundness, legal, and accounting concerns."

LPS: Foreclosure Backlog Stands at 30x Foreclosure Sales Volume

LPS reports that the total U.S. loan delinquency rate stood at 8.8 percent as of the end of February. The U.S. foreclosure inventory rate hit 4.15 percent.

By the company’s calculations, there are a total of 6,856,000 mortgages in the United States that are considered non-current.

Blockbuster Poised to Shut Down Another 186 Stores in Bankruptcy

Blockbuster Inc. said in court filings that it will start the process of closing 186 additional stores by the end of the month, meaning more than a third of its U.S. brick-and-mortar locations have either closed or will be closed since it filed for bankruptcy protection last September, Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review reported today. In court filings on Friday, Blockbuster said that it will reject the leases on 186 of its stores by March 31, which would bring the number of stores the company has closed or plans to close since filing for bankruptcy protection late last summer to 1,145, the company told Dow Jones. According to court papers, the company had just over 3,300 U.S. stores when it filed for bankruptcy protection.


Consumer Spending Continues to Rise

U.S. consumer spending rose 0.7 percent in February, the largest increase since October and the eighth straight month of gains, the Wall Street Journal reported today. After adjusting for inflation--factoring out such things as the jump in gas prices--consumption rose 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said yesterday. The pickup in spending came as personal income rose by 0.3 percent last month, though higher prices sapped the gains. The saving rate, meanwhile, slid to 5.8 percent.

Banks Offer Own Mortgage-Servicing Plan

Five of the nation's largest banks sent government officials a proposal yesterday that outlines a set of mortgage-servicing standards they would abide by as part of a settlement of abuses in the industry, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The document is a response to a 27-page term sheet banks received earlier this month from state attorneys general that would require the servicers to consider reducing principal for troubled borrowers. The 15-page bank proposal, dubbed the Draft Alternative Uniform Servicing Standards, includes time lines for processing modifications, a third-party review of foreclosures and a single point of contact for financially troubled borrowers. It also outlines a so-called "borrower portal" that would allow customers to check the status of their loan modifications online. However, the document does not include any discussion of principal reductions. Nor does it include a potential amount banks could pay for borrower relief or penalties

Of Interest

 Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act

Tax Certificates, Tax Deeds And Tax Sales - Information For Lenders And Investors

Bankruptcy shaming become commonplace?

In Canada-

"This week, media outlets have been focusing on past financial troubles of Conservative candidates. Former Delta-Richmond East nominee Dale Saip was forced to step aside after it was revealed that he declared bankruptcy in 1993. This left creditors on the hook for $340,000.

The replacement candidate, lawyer Kerry-Lynne Findlay, also declared bankruptcy. According to a CBC report, she listed $175,000 in assets and debts of nearly $558,000 in 2001. She attributed it to a long legal fight over real estate with the Musqueam band. In 2008, the Vancouver Sun also highlighted the past bankruptcies of three federal candidates—Conservative Lorne Mayencourt, Liberal Don Olson, and Green Doug Perry.

Those who've never filed for bankruptcy might be quick to judge these politicians. Some will see it as a moral failing, notwithstanding any reasons behind these candidates' financial troubles. But before we rush to any conclusions, consider this: the man who is often judged the greatest American president in history was also a former bankrupt.

Abraham Lincoln filed for bankruptcy in 1833 after his business partner died. He spent the following 17 years repaying his debts."

Robo signers