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Helping Homeowners Facing Fair Lending Problems in Home Repairs and Improvements: Overview of Rights and Options


Speaker(s): Alysson Snow, Jenna Miara, Jennifer Sperling, Joseph Jaramillo, Kathleen Murray, Kristin Kemnitzer, Lisa Sitkin, Nisha Kashyap, Paul Yee, Sparky Abraham, Stephanie Carroll
Recorded on: Feb. 11, 2020
PLI Program #: 289022

Lisa Sitkin is a Senior Staff Attorney at National Housing Law Project (NHLP) in San Francisco, CA, where she provides technical assistance, training and practice resources to attorneys representing homeowners in connection with mortgages and foreclosure. She has been practicing law since 1997. Prior to joining NHLP, Ms. Sitkin was a Managing Attorney at Housing and Economic Rights Advocates in Oakland, CA. Ms. Sitkin has counseled and represented individual clients, participated in policy advocacy regarding mortgage servicing and foreclosure, and assisted with mortgage servicing, predatory and unfair lending litigation. She has conducted numerous workshops and trainings regarding mortgages, foreclosures, loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams, including programs produced by the Practicing Law Institute and the National Consumer Law Center, and has testified before the California State Legislature and other governmental bodies regarding mortgage servicing and foreclosure issues. She is one of the original drafters of the bill that ultimately became the California Homeowner Bill of Rights.


Alysson Snow leads the Consumer Protection Division of the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc.  Ms. Snow and her team provide free legal assistance and representation to low-income San Diegans who struggle to save their homes from foreclosure and predatory lending schemes.  Ms. Snow is an aggressive litigator with extensive experience in consumer protection litigation and a frequent speaker at the American Bar Association, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and National Consumer Law Center conferences on consumer protection issues.  She has also been a requested panelist by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission on consumer protection related topics.  Prior to working at Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc., Ms. Snow worked for DLA Piper (US) LLP.  She graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University and attended Carroll College in Montana.


Jenna Miara is directing attorney for the Impact Litigation and Policy team at Bet Tzedek Legal Services in Los Angeles, where she oversees the agency’s PACE litigation and policy advocacy. Before joining Bet Tzedek, Jenna was an attorney at Strumwasser & Woocher LLP, where her practice focused on constitutional, environmental, and employment law.

Prior to relocating to Los Angeles with her family, Jenna was a partner at Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd in Chicago, where she represented plaintiffs in complex employment and civil rights litigation.  Before that, she was a senior attorney at Legal Aid Chicago, where she handled housing, employment, consumer, public benefits, and family law matters.

Jenna received her J.D. with distinction from Stanford Law School, and graduated summa cum laude from Columbia College of Columbia University.  After law school, Jenna clerked for the Honorable Robert W. Gettleman at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.


Jennifer Sperling is an attorney at Bet Tzedek in Los Angeles working in the Impact Litigation & Policy unit.  Since 2017, the bulk of her litigation and advocacy has centered on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans, which have impacted scores of Bet Tzedek's most vulnerable clients. Before moving to California, Jennifer was a Clinical Professor at Villanova University School of law in Pennsylvania. She served as law clerk for the Honorable Anita B. Brody in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 2008-2009, and a Staff Attorney for the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 2009-2011. Jennifer was also an associate at Latham & Watkins LLP in New York and in-house counsel for Greenpeace USA in Washington, DC. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2005.


Joseph (Joe) Jaramillo is a Senior Attorney at Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) in Oakland, California who has over twenty-years of experience in public interest law. His practice entails direct services, litigation and community education on consumer debt and credit issues affecting low to moderate income individuals. He counsels and assists homeowners on preventing foreclosure and modifying their home loans. He also counsels and assists pro se litigants in debt collection defense cases, and sometimes represents them in court. He provides advice and education on credit repair issues.

Other areas of focus include counseling clients on student loan debt options, consumer protection for military servicemembers and veterans, and representing clients facing mortgage rescue scams. He previously litigated employment and consumer class actions at Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho in Oakland, and GrahamHollis APC in San Diego. He also served as a Staff Attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in San Francisco. Born and raised in Vallejo, he earned his J.D. degree at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and his B.A. degree at UC Davis.


Kathleen Eagan Murray is an attorney in the Consumer Rights and Economic Justice Project at Public Counsel in Los Angeles. She focuses her practice on providing direct services to low-income consumers facing abusive, predatory, and discriminatory practices and policies. Her work also includes impact litigation in federal and state court and local, state, and federal policy reform. Prior to joining Public Counsel in 2018, Kathleen was a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in Los Angeles. Kathleen received her B.A. from Harvard College and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.


Kristin Kemnitzer is a partner at the law firm of Kemnitzer Barron & Krieg, LLP. Kemnitzer Barron & Krieg represents consumers in both individual cases and class actions throughout the state of California in both state and federal courts. The firm’s practice focuses on protecting consumers from economic injustice. Ms. Kemnitzer and the firm frequently bring cases involving lemon law, auto fraud, unfair debt collection, illegal repossessions, motorcycle finance, elder abuse, door-to-door sales scams, civil rights violations, cell phone abuse, and California’s anti-deficiency statutes. The firm has represented thousands of consumers in individual fraud and lemon law cases, and hundreds of thousands of consumers in class actions. KBK Legal has been appointed lead counsel over 120 class actions, has seventeen published appellate opinions, and has extinguished over three billion dollars in alleged deficiency balances following the sale of repossessed vehicles.

Ms. Kemnitzer graduated with honors from Stanford University in 2006, and obtained her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall) in 2011. While in law school, she worked as a judicial extern for the Honorable Randall Rader on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. She also acted as Senior Articles Editor for the Berkeley Technology Law Journal. Prior to joining Kemnitzer Barron & Krieg, Ms. Kemnitzer was an associate at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where her practice focused on Internet and copyright litigation, and class action defense.

Ms. Kemnitzer frequently provides MCLE training. She has provided negotiation training, lectured on the Rees-Levering Automobile Sales Finance Act at Hastings Law School and numerous legal aid organizations throughout the state, and participated as a yearly speaker on the subject of auto fraud at the National Consumer Law Center Consumer Rights Litigation Conference. Mr. Kemnitzer has also appeared on CBS News ConsumerWatch as a correspondent on consumer law issues.


Nisha Kashyap is a staff attorney in the Consumer Rights and Economic Justice Project at Public Counsel in Los Angeles. She represents low-income consumers to combat abusive, predatory, and discriminatory practices and policies. Her work includes impact litigation in federal and state court, direct services, and local, state, and federal policy reform. She previously worked at the Alliance for Children’s Rights as a staff attorney and Skadden Fellow, and clerked for the Honorable Judge Keith Ellison on the Southern District of Texas. Nisha received her B.A. from UCLA and her J.D. from Stanford Law School.


Paul Yee is a graduate of San Francisco State University with a degree in Political Science in 1986. Graduated from U.C. Hastings College of Law in 1989. Employed as a litigation attorney with various law firms and insurance companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently, Senior Counsel with the Enforcement Division of the California Department of Business Oversight.


Sparky Abraham is a Consumer Fraud Attorney at Bet Tzedek working in both the real estate fraud and impact units. His docket includes both class action and individual cases concerning home improvement financing and the PACE program. Prior to joining Bet Tzedek, Sparky served as the Economic Justice Fellow at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, as an Enforcement Attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and as an Equal Justice Works fellow at Housing and Economic Rights Advocates.


Steph Carroll is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Consumer Rights and Economic Justice project at Public Counsel.  Steph joined Public Counsel in 2009 and has litigated individual and class consumer matters in state and federal court in California since 2011.  Her civil litigation practice has encompassed elder abuse, predatory lending, wrongful foreclosure, quiet title, hospital dumping, procedural due process, consumer debt, criminal justice debt and anti-trust cases. Since 2016, her team has provided direct services and litigation assistance to hundreds of clients with PACE financing matters, and Steph has become a leading advocate on PACE policy issues both in Los Angeles and Statewide, including before the Department of Business Oversight. Prior to becoming an attorney, Steph began her career working in International Development and has a Master’s in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Before moving to the U.S. in 2008, Steph was a barrister in London and also worked on cases before the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone.