Three consumer attorneys are being lauded for contributions to the defense of homeowners facing foreclosure by sharing The Florida Bar’s inaugural Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year Award.
April Charney and James Kowalski, Jr., both of Jacksonville, and Margery Golant, of Boca Raton, have championed the legal rights of consumers during the ongoing housing crisis, as well as educating attorneys.
Created by the Consumer Protection Law Committee, the award recognizes excellence, character, and commitment to the practice of consumer protection law.
Kowalski is credited with revealing the robo-signing of documents on behalf of lenders during the collapse of the housing market, which saw roughly 323,000 Floridians receive foreclosure notices in 2010, with nearly 467,000 mortgages currently in default. His nomination form said:
“Representing the poor on the verge of being rendered homeless against the most powerful financial institutions on the planet, he revealed frauds that were difficult to unravel and even more difficult to prove in the rocket-fueled foreclosure litigation environment.”
In December 2010, Kowalski testified to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary on “Foreclosed Justice: Causes and Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis.”
About Charney, of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, the nomination form said:
“April has organized a national and statewide listserv and monthly statewide education circuit on foreclosure defense and consumer-related matters. She’s been energetic, enthusiastic, and most of all extremely informative. Lastly, she has done all of this for free.”
The panel took into account Charney’s “development of innovative and highly successful techniques in defending homeowners, creating mediation programs, and drafting amicus briefs on issues of critical significance . . . It is indeed rare to find a lawyer who spends so much of her time on pro bono cases, speaking engagements, advocacy, and training other lawyers, all the while representing countless clients at their time of greatest need.”
Golant’s nomination form noted of the former Pennsylvania judge: “(She) has vigorously and successfully advocated for consumers facing foreclosure and financial distress in highly contested litigation . . . and in volunteer training of consumers in need of assistance, Ms. Golant presents the facts and potential options in a straightforward manner, with practical examples and sage advice.”
Golant was a panelist in the Consumer Protection Law Committee’s Presidential Showcase CLE “Residential Foreclosure” presented at the 2010 Annual Convention. She is also one of the panelists in The Florida Bar’s plaintiff education CLE “Foreclosure Litigation in Florida,” which is available free to Bar members through The Florida Bar 24/7 Online CLE Catalog.
Golant has been interviewed by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and numerous other media about the foreclosure crisis. At the request of the U.S. House of Representatives, she submitted testimony about mortgage modifications.
The three will receive their awards June 24, during at the Bar’s convention.