Protecting A Single Mother
Faegre, Baker Daniels LLP attorneys stepped in when “Nina”, a custodial worker and single mother with two children, was faced with an eviction notice and an impossible situation. Nina came to Legal Aid when she received an eviction notice from her landlord. She had been consistently paying him $900 a month and was shocked and scared.
Legal Aid attorney James Clark determined that Nina, who spoke very little English, had unknowingly signed papers committing to a purchase agreement that valued her house at a very high price for the neighborhood and required a huge down payment. With Nina’s limited income and the inflated price of the home, there was no way she would be able to secure a mortgage. James was able to get the eviction dismissed and expunged, solving the immediate crisis, but Nina’s troubles were far from over.
Faegre Baker Daniels’ Pro Bono Program Director recruited a team of attorneys with the right expertise to take the case. Steve Severson, partner, headed up the team assisted by associate Adam Hoskins and Brad Engelsma, a practice attorney who was fluent in Nina’s native language.
The team worked with Nina for nine months through a series of complex issues that required experienced real estate attorneys. In the end, the Faegre team reached an extremely favorable settlement for Nina and the seller agreed to work on a more reasonable agreement. Without the help of the Faegre Baker Daniels team, Nina would have lost her life’s savings and all of the money she borrowed from friends and family – not to mention her home.
This was Adam and Brad’s first pro bono experience. “It was such a good experience to step into an emergency situation where someone was so far over her head and steward her through the process,” explained Adam. “That’s why you go to law school—to make a difference. It was months of work and communication, and we saw her through.”
Brad agrees. “We could see how much pressure she was under, and the anguish it caused. It was very personally rewarding, to dig in and see what we were able to do for her, and hear her gratitude on the other side.”
“Pro bono cases like this are some of my most gratifying work,” echoes Steve. “You see the client’s tears and stress, and you see how grateful they are when they’re relieved of the pressure. Much of my work is fighting over millions of dollars. This case was comparatively small in dollars but huge for Nina. It’s not the number of zeroes that matters—it’s the situation. You can tell when a client really needs your help.”