Rivals See Chance for Growth With Steven J. Baum Firm’s Collapse

Published in New York Law Journal: January 23 2011 – By Andrew Keshner

New York’s largest and most controversial foreclosure law firm may be going out of business, but two former high-ranking attorneys at Steven J. Baum P.C. are picking up cases that were handled by their old employer in a new firm that includes other Baum alumni.

Gross, Polowy & Orlans is one of a number of firms throughout the state receiving cases from lenders that were handled by the Baum firm, which announced in November that it was winding up its affairs.

Ivan E. Young of the Young Law Group in Bohemia, who defends homeowners in about 200 cases, said that 60 percent of the lenders had been represented by Mr. Baum. He said that most of those have now gone to large firms, such as Hogan Lovells. Mr. Young said he frequently files motions and counterclaims.

After Mr. Baum announced his firm’s closure, observers expressed concern that the time it would take for the lenders to transfer cases would further slow foreclosure litigation, already moving at a glacial pace in New York.

Benjamin M. Lawsky, the head of New York’s Department of Financial Services, wrote to mortgage services companies on Dec. 19 urging them to “make every effort to move the process of having substituted counsel appointed.”

In Westchester County, the Baum firm represented lenders in 30 percent of the county’s foreclosure caseload.

Nancy Barry, chief clerk of the Westchester County Supreme and County courts, acknowledged the transfer of those cases has meant an increase in data entry owing to attorney changes and an increase in inquiries from homeowners who want to know how the firm’s upcoming closure affects them.

But there have been fewer adjournment requests than expected, she said.

“It’s been a very consistent and steady changeover.,” she said.

Ms. Barry said it seemed like there has been a “fair distribution” of Baum firm cases to other attorneys. “It seems like they’re going to experienced, familiar foreclosure firms,” she said.