The law firm of Steven J. Baum, which has its office near Buffalo, N.Y., had been representing banks and mortgage servicers in the foreclosure of homes - sometimes referred to as a "foreclosure mill." On Halloween last year, the firm held an all-day party, and as noted by NYT columnist Joe Nocera, the costumes were stunningly offensive (Nocera was working off pictures someone had sent him):
Let me describe a few of the photos. In one, two Baum employees are dressed like homeless people. One is holding a bottle of liquor. The other has a sign around her neck that reads: "3rd party squatter. I lost my home and I was never served." My source said that "I was never served" is meant to mock "the typical excuse" of the homeowner trying to evade a foreclosure proceeding. A second picture shows a coffin with a picture of a woman whose eyes have been cut out. A sign on the coffin reads: "Rest in Peace. Crazy Susie." The reference is to Susan Chana Lask, a lawyer who had filed a class-action suit against Steven J. Baum -- and had posted a YouTube video denouncing the firm's foreclosure practices. "She was a thorn in their side," said my source.
After the photos surfaced, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae prohibited forbidding servicers of their mortgages from using the Baum firm. That was pretty much that, and this week the law firm of Steven J. Baum announced that it's going out of business. Here's the firm's statement:
"Disrupting the livelihoods of so many dedicated and hardworking people is extremely painful, but the loss of so much business left us no choice but to file these notices."
Nocera received an email from Baum says in part: "Mr. Nocera -- You have destroyed everything and everyone related to Steven J. Baum PC. It took 40 years to build this firm and three weeks to tear down."