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Free foreclosure clinic now award winning

Past-due notices can result from bad customer service.

Past-due notices can result from bad customer service. Photo Credit: iStock

The Nassau County Bar Association has won a national award for its foreclosure-prevention efforts, from its one-stop monthly clinic to pro bono representation of homeowners in court.

The LexisNexis Community and Education Outreach Award comes from the National Association of Bar Executives, an affiliate of the American Bar Association. The prize was for the category of local bar associations with more than 5,000 members, and the criteria take into account the program’s effectiveness and originality.

“While we may not resolve every issue in a single meeting, people leave here with a greater awareness of their options,” said Susan Katz Richman, bar president. “Knowing that we are here to help alleviates their fear of losing their homes.”

More than 3,500 families have used the monthly Mortgage Foreclosure Pro Bono Project, bar officials said.

The monthly foreclosure prevention clinic, which started in early 2009, is a sort of free, one-stop consultation center that now has interpreters in several languages, bankruptcy attorneys, nonprofit housing counselors, Nassau County Homeownership Center and Nassau/Suffolk Law Services. Pro bono representation in court started in April of last year, with attorneys sitting in the back of the foreclosure courtroom at State Supreme Court in Mineola, ready to represent homeowners at mandated foreclosure conferences between the lender, borrower and court officials.

The bar was the first in the state to launch programs for distressed homeowners who didn’t know where to get help and whom to trust in keeping their homes. The next foreclosure-prevention clinic will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 17 at the bar association in Mineola, 15th and West streets. For reservations, call 516-747-4070.

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