“In Puerto Rico, we are in desperate need of more consumer attorneys. There are many issues with home insurance and foreclosures after hurricanes Irma and Maria; people want to save their homes, but we don’t have enough attorneys to take all of their cases. I hope that in saying that I am a proud consumer attorney in Puerto Rico, others will join me. Not only do I think it’s important to say I am a consumer attorney, I also say I am an activist who believes in human rights — including the fundamental right to housing.
Federal courts are difficult here. It’s easy to get lost in the system. Not only do attorneys have to pay for extra classes to be trained in federal laws, but the federal courts are only heard in English — if you bring a foreclosure case to federal court, clients often can’t understand what is going on because their first language is Spanish. It’s also extremely expensive because clients have to pay to get all the documents translated. It’s really unfair to them.
I once had a client come to me crying because she had just received a judgment of foreclosure. She didn’t understand why as she was in the middle of a loss mitigation process. When I asked her why she didn’t contact a lawyer before, she answered she thought it was enough to write an email to the Bank’s lawyer attaching all her loss mitigation written communications with the Bank. The lawyer never answered back but filed a request for a summary judgment. Luckily, my client came to me in time and we were able to convince a sensitive and knowledgeable judge to void the judgment. As it does for so many other cases though, it could have easily gone the other way for my client.
This past year, NCLC held a training in Puerto Rico, and every legal services attorney I know was there. We are all dedicated to our cause, and to the citizens that need us. I am proud to be a Puerto Rican consumer attorney, and I encourage others to join me in developing consumer law expertise to solve problems and achieve real justice for our people!”