Florida Bar Considers Whether Foreclosure Defense Lawyer Taking Mortgage On Home The Subject Of Legal Action To Secure Fees A Violation Of Ethics Rule
In South Florida, the Daily Business Review reports:
- Foreclosure defense attorney Peter Ticktin has told the Florida Bar that he has not done anything wrong by signing agreements that give him the right to take on mortgages on his client’s houses if he wins their foreclosure cases. The Bar launched an investigation of Ticktin after the New York Times reported earlier this month that his firm, the Ticktin Law Group, was obtaining second mortgages as payment from homeowners fighting foreclosure lawsuits [see Taking On a Second Mortgage to Pay the Foreclosure Lawyer].
- Ticktin said the Bar mailed him a copy of the article asking him to "explain" the matter. Last week, Ticktin sent a letter to the Bar drafted by his attorney, Kevin Tynan, claiming the method he uses to receive payment to defend clients from foreclosure is a "simple contingency fee." "If he wins and defeats the efficacy of a mortgage, he is entitled to a share of that win," said the letter addressed to Florida Bar counsel Theodore P. Littlewood.
- Francine Walker, a spokeswoman at the Florida Bar, said in an email the mortgages potentially violate a rule regulating The Florida Bar that states: "A lawyer shall not acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of litigation the lawyer is conducting for a client."
- The rule provides an exception stating lawyers may "acquire a lien granted by law to secure the lawyer’s fee or expenses; and contract with a client for a reasonable contingent fee."
- According to the letter by Tynan, the only issue "that may be of concern" to the Bar is whether Ticktin’s retention agreement "to acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action," violates the rules of professional conduct. According to Tynan, it does not.
For more, see Attorney Defends Taking On Mortgages as Contingency Fee.