Foreclosure Lawyers Go to Gardner’s Farm for Edge on Lenders

Bloomberg has a story on Max and the Boot Camp which features a few Boot Camp graduates as well.

“My time with Max changed the trajectory of my legal career,” Nick Wooten, a 40-year-old Alabama attorney who changed his focus from personal injury to bankruptcy and foreclosure after attending the boot camp in 2007, said in a telephone interview. “Knowledge is power, and one thing he is able to give in his boot camp is a tremendous amount of knowledge about how the other side operates.”

Participants, who are admitted only after a background check confirms that they don’t work for creditors, gain access to a private e-mail distribution list where they share legal strategies, documents and advice. Linda Tirelli, a consumer- bankruptcy attorney in New York and Connecticut and one of the 599 people who have gone through the program, said she feels like she’s now part of a big law firm. …

While Gardner and some of his graduates have been winning settlements for years, it wasn’t until Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit said Sept. 20 it was halting some evictions that foreclosure documentation and the use of robo-signers became a national issue that threatened to stall sales of repossessed homes and gave investors ammunition in their fight to force banks to buy back billions of dollars of mortgage- linked securities.

“We had a steep hill to climb to convince the judges that the largest financial institutions in America were engaged in this kind of conduct,” Gardner said in an interview during a break in this month’s session. …

Gardner’s boot camp is the “story behind the story,” said attorney Tirelli, who attended the program in October 2008 after first balking at the price.

More Profitable Practice

Tirelli, a sole practitioner who works on contingency, said she now makes four times more from a case than she did before changing her business model. Gardner, who devotes one wall in the boot-camp classroom to framed settlement checks, tells students they can be more profitable by concentrating on a smaller number of cases. Tirelli, who accepts no more than 20 clients a month, said she has the confidence to go up against what Gardner calls “tall building law firms” because the community of graduates located in 47 states functions as a unit, exchanging documents and discovering patterns of misconduct, she said.

“It’s a fraternity,” Tirelli said. “We don’t see each other as competition. We want more attorneys to join because the more we have the better.”

Borrowers who can’t afford attorneys sometimes turn to legal-services organizations such as Jacksonville Area Legal Aid in Florida, where boot-camp graduate April Charney has worked since 2004 — the year she met Gardner. They met at a conference of consumer lawyers in Minneapolis, and Gardner later offered her a scholarship to attend training.