I know someone who zipped through law school finals (usually the one and only grade for a class, so, hey, no pressure) by creating flow charts. Elaborate charts that, if used properly, would lead to a well organized, rational, factually-based answer. The trick for him – and anyone using it in lieu of an outline – was to properly identify the issue. Miss the issue and the flow chart was useless. Hit the issue, sit back and fill in the blanks.
Most options are, of course, at the beginning. Start with the basic issue(s) and it begins to narrow down, and down, and down to the logical end point – a logical, legally supportable result.
I thought of this last week when I was giving a short talk at the Connecticut Bar Association about foreclosure defense. I was talking about the process – always the process – and it aways came back to options. As in, what options are available to the client at what point in the process.
Like my friend’s flow charts, the options are very much front-loaded. The issue is not in doubt, but the way to a good result for the client is certainly not a straight line.
After I fielded a few questions it became pretty clear, pretty quickly, that my colleagues and I are seeing clients at the mid- to late stages of the process . . . the place where – under the flow chart scenario – the options narrow.
This is disturbing because this isn’t a legal exercise, it’s peoples’ lives. It’s their homes. It’s even more disturbing if the reason for this is because people who are going through foreclosure don’t think they have options . . . and by the time they realize they do, those options have been significantly reduced.
Either way, foreclosure defendants have a textbook worth of options at the start of the process, and need to take advantage – otherwise the flow chart looks like this: