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Representing California Homeowners and Tenants in Foreclosure 2014

Speaker(s): Brittany McCormick, Elizabeth S. Letcher, Eric Andrew Mercer, Kent Qian, Leah F. Simon-Weisberg, Madeline S. Howard, Nelson Goodell, Tara Twomey
Recorded on: Jun. 16, 2014
PLI Program #: 56046

Tara Twomey is currently Of Counsel to the National Consumer Law Center and the Project Director for the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center.  She has been a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School, Harvard Law School and Boston College Law School.  Ms. Twomey is a former Clinical Instructor at the Hale and Dorr Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School where her practice focused, in part, on sustainable homeownership for low- and moderate-income homeowners. This practice area included foreclosure prevention and chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Ms. Twomey is a contributing author of several books published by the National Consumer Law Center, including Foreclosures: Defenses, Workouts and Mortgage Servicing.

Ms. Twomey earned her J.D. from Boston College Law School, summa cum laude and received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego. After law school, she served as a law clerk for Chief Justice Herbert P. Wilkins of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. In 1999, Ms. Twomey received a two-year Skadden Fellowship to work at the Legal Services Center.

Elizabeth Letcher is a consumer advocate and attorney who has practiced in the public interest for nearly twenty years.   She represents homeowners and other consumers in mortgage servicing and related litigation, and offers consulting to attorneys and others on mortgage servicing and loan modification.

Before opening the Law Offices of Elizabeth S. Letcher in 2015, she was the Director of Litigation at the nonprofit Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, leading the organization’s individual and class litigation in areas ranging from predatory lending to mortgage servicing and modification issues to unfair debt collection, and performing non-litigation related advocacy as well.  She has testified as an expert on foreclosure rescue and loan modification issues, and conducts worships and trainings for consumers and attorneys on related issues.

Before her six years at HERA, Ms. Letcher had a civil rights oriented practice, both as an associate at a small firm and on her own, which focused on challenges to government conduct and practices, employment discrimination and public benefits suits, and civil, administrative, and criminal appeals.  Ms. Letcher is a 1994 graduate of Berkeley Law.  She clerked for the Hon. Thelton E. Henderson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and the Hon James R. Browning of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and was a Skadden Fellow at the Employment Law Center in San Francisco.

Kent Qian is an attorney in the Redevelopment, Real Estate & Rent Unit in the Advisory Division of the Oakland City Attorney's Office.

Mr. Qian previously worked as a staff attorney for the National Housing Law Project in San Francisco, where he litigated cases in state and federal courts to protect the rights of low-income tenants and homeowners and advised state and federal policymakers regarding the creation of new foreclosure protections.

Mr. Qian graduated from the University of Chicago Law School. He has a Master’s degree in physics from Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

He is a commissioner on the San Francisco Rent Board and is a member of the State Bar’s Standing Committee on Delivery of Legal Services.

Leah Simon-Weisberg is the Managing Attorney of the Tenant Rights Program at Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland.  Leah came from Tenants Together (TT) where she was the Legal Director. At TT, she managed the litigation practice which included class action and multi-plaintiff fair housing, habitability, tenant contract and consumer rights matters. She regularly provided technical assistance on rent control and drafted the ordinance that passed in Richmond, California in November 2017. Before joining Tenants Together, Leah was the Managing Attorney of the Anti-Predatory Lending and Home Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Practice at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto. Leah began her housing work in Los Angeles as the co-Executive Director of the Eviction Defense Network (EDN). At EDN, Leah litigated over 1,000 unlawful detainer cases on behalf of tenants facing eviction in Los Angeles County. Leah has extensive experience providing education to legal service providers on eviction defense and rent control.  Before attending law school at Northeastern University, School of Law, Leah worked for Senator Barbara Boxer in her San Francisco Office and served as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Morocco. Leah is presently an elected Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner.

Brittany McCormick

Brittany joined the National Housing Law Project in May, 2013 as a staff attorney. Brittany has drawn on her background in foreclosure prevention to inform her new role as part of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights Collaborative. As the lead writer of the HBOR Collaborative's Foreclosure Newsletter, Brittany monitors and analyzes the fast-moving world of foreclosure law and provides technical assistance to consumer attorneys working to prevent foreclosures on behalf of California homeowners. She has done training on the post-foreclosure eviction of former homeowners and contributed to the CEB California Eviction Defense Manual on that topic.

Eric Andrew Mercer

Eric Mercer is a private attorney at the Law Office of Eric Andrew Mercer in Sacramento, California. He represents consumers in individual and class action litigation involving mortgage loan servicing, mortgage origination, foreclosure rescue scams, and unfair debt collection. He graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law and started his legal career as a patent litigator at an intellectual property law firm in Palo Alto, California, where he began representing consumers through the firm's pro bono program. Since 2009, his practice has focused heavily on protecting homeowner rights through litigation in California state and federal courts and as coauthor on amicus curiae briefs.

An Honors graduate of Tulane Law School, Nelson Goodell’s practice focuses on real estate disputes, with a heavy emphasis on helping troubled homeowners prevent foreclosure through litigation. Mr. Goodell has testified before the California Legislature regarding proposed legislation designed to provide more protections to Californians in the foreclosure process. Mr. Goodell has tried cases in front of judges and juries in state and federal courts in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has had success at both the trial and appellate level.

Madeline is a senior staff attorney at Western Center on Law & Poverty focusing on fair housing litigation, unlawful detainer appeals, and issues impacting tenants in foreclosed homes. Before joining Western Center in 2013, Madeline was a senior staff attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid in San Jose and San Francisco where she represented the interests of low-income tenants against landlords and major lending institutions. At Western Center Madeline partners with legal services attorneys on impact litigation to challenge discriminatory housing practices and preserve affordable housing. She also supports direct services attorneys through technical assistance and training on issues ranging from unlawful detainer appeals to fair housing rights. Madeline received her law degree from Berkeley after working as an advocate at Medical-Legal Partnership Boston, the nation’s first medical-legal collaborative. She went on to become a research attorney at San Francisco Superior Court before returning to direct services work.