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Residential Lending after the Crash: An Update on How Dodd-Frank and the CFPB Have Changed the Rules of Home Loan Origination 2013

Speaker(s): James Zahradka, Lisa Sitkin, Maeve Elise Brown, Sylvia Yrigollen
Recorded on: Jan. 29, 2013
PLI Program #: 45791

Sylvia Yrigollen is the manager of the Mortgage Loan Activities unit of the California Department of Real Estate. Her team provides information related to the new requirements for Mortgage Loan Originator licensing in California. They review the applicant backgrounds and monitor compliance with reports that must be submitted by licensees conducting mortgage loan activities.   

Sylvia has been a licensed real estate broker since 1986 and has been with the DRE since 2001.    

Since May 2001, James Zahradka has been an attorney at Public Interest Law Firm (PILF), a program of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley based in San Jose, California. There, he has worked on a broad variety of impact litigation matters seeking to effect change for underrepresented people in Silicon Valley, using state and federal class actions as well as writ petitions and lawsuits involving large groups of plaintiffs. Among other cases, James has represented:


  • Borrowers who were targeted for predatory mortgage loans and mortgage modification scams;
  • People with mental health and developmental disabilities in housing discrimination suits;
  • Students and parents in race discrimination and language access cases;
  • Jail inmates in suits relating to their constitutional right of court access and the misappropriation of inmate welfare funds; and
  • Low-income residents in affordable housing and slumlord cases.


In January 2010, James was named Supervising Attorney of PILF and its sister program Fair Housing Law Project (FHLP). In that role, he directly supervises two attorneys and co-supervises two additional attorneys and two legal assistants.

In addition to the above pieces of litigation, James has advocated at local, state, and federal levels on policy issues important to PILF's client population.  He is currently chair of the Board of Directors of the California Reinvestment Coalition, a statewide organization with 300 member organizations which advocates for the right of low-income communities and communities of color to have fair and equal access to banking and other financial services.

Prior to his work at the Law Foundation, James practiced public interest and public sector law in Alaska and Southern California, clerking on the Alaska Supreme Court and representing Indian tribes and individuals in various legal and policy arenas as a staff attorney for California Indian Legal Services.  At CILS, James's work included fighting to preserve priceless cultural artifacts, helping to ensure that tribes received just compensation for incursions onto their lands, and advocating for Indian tribes' and individuals' rights in child custody proceedings; he was lead counsel on two state-court appeals in the latter context.

James was also involved in civil rights and human rights issues during law school at the University of California, Davis (King Hall).  During the summer of 1997, James worked for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and was stationed in Sarajevo.  There, James helped an international panel of jurists adjudicate allegations of irregularities in the run-up to municipal elections. The prior summer, James worked in Budapest for the Soros Foundation's Open Society Institute, researching issues relating to Central European legal reform. Additionally, James participated in his law school's Civil Rights and Criminal Justice clinical programs. At the former, James successfully briefed and argued a case at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; at the latter, he worked on several felony matters for the Office of the Federal Defender, including United States v. Kaczinski.

James graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin in 1993 with majors in German and Political Science. At UW, James was Managing Editor of The Daily Cardinal, one of the nation's oldest student newspapers. He taught English to eighth-graders in Eger, Hungary for a year, and has lived in various parts of Central Europe for some 20 months altogether.

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.

Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director and a founder of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), manages operations, supervises staff and participates in the organization’s substantive work.  Her years of experience as a public interest attorney include litigation and administrative advocacy on behalf of tenants and homeowners, public benefits advocacy, community organizing, fair housing advocacy, community workshops, and trainings and technical assistance for professionals.  Ms. Brown has published articles on affordable housing issues, designed and teaches a course on mortgage lending and homeownership at UC Berkeley School of Law and is vice-chair of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board.