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Florida homeowners seeking relief under the state’s foreclosure mediation program were disappointed, according to new report, that says only a small percentage of mediations were successful. So far, the process doesn’t seem to have helped.
The first statewide report on the Supreme Court’s foreclosure mediation program is out, and at least one South Florida judge says the program is neither helping homeowners nor clearing caseloads.
About 4 percent of 57,909 foreclosure cases referred to mediation between March and November 2010 ended in agreement between the bank and borrower, according to the program evaluation, which included all 20 circuit courts.
The success rate is higher — 27 percent — if only mediations that actually occurred are considered.
The report, released on this week, was compiled by the Office of the State Courts Administrator.
Mediation was required by a 2009 state Supreme Court order as a way to lighten judicial caseloads, as well as aid borrowers — objectives Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey said have not been achieved.
“I think it’s fair to say the program has not met the case management goals we hoped to meet in terms of reducing the number of cases to be handled by the court, and, more importantly, it has not significantly helped Floridians stay in their houses,” said Bailey, who served as chairwoman of Florida’s Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Cases. “It is incredibly disheartening.”
Florida requires that every foreclosure go through the courts, which had a backlog of 322,724 cases as of February.
TAMPA — Mike Blickensderfer, president of Blick Law Firm, measures the success of his business by a unique standard: His family wants to work there too.
“My wife and each of my children have different talents, and I’m fortunate because they are putting them to use at our law firm,” said Blickensderfer, whose Tampa firm is well-known in motorcycle circles and in community groups on the West Coast.
Mike’s wife, Vivian, is the marketing manager of Blick Law Firm, Dana Blickensderfer, 22, is the public relations and social media director, and son Steven looks to be joining his father as an attorney at the firm after his graduation from University of Florida Levin College of Law in May.
“It’s such a blessing to see our each of our children use their talents to help out the business,” said Vivian Blickensderfer. “They wanted to do it.”
Eldest daughter, Danielle — now studying architecture in New York — was the first one to work at the firm, and then handed the reins to sister, Dana.
“Danielle was the one who started it all for me and my brother,” said Dana Blickensderfer. “She was looking for something to do while going to school and she was the gatekeeper of the firm.”
Blick Law Firm holds seminars hosted by Vivian, sponsors events put on by Dana, and works with groups of realtors, doctors and other attorneys to generate the business.
While family comprises the nucleus of the team, the 13 non-family employees play a vital role to running a diverse practice.
The Blick Law Firm has been nominated by The Tampa Business Journal as one of the top places to work in Tampa Bay.
“Our faith is about helping one another in the community,” Dana Blickensderfer said. “The foundation of our business is helping the hurting.”
Compassion is critical in a business that deals with family law issues.
“Unfortunately, some cases involve death and we help the family cope,” Dana Blickensderfer said. “Mike is really good at listening and supporting the family. But he’s also very good at taking care of the legal stuff that they can’t do on their own.”
Compassion — and understanding — also play a strong role inside the office.
“We keep our morale high by having little giveaways every month, spending time with each other, and keeping communication lines open,” Dana Blickensderfer said.
Mike Blickensderfer said the practice has evolved over the years.