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Pro Bono Lawyer Who Exposed Robo-Signing Wins $100K 'Purpose Prize'


A lawyer from Maine whose pro bono work helped uncover the robo-signing mortgage scandal is getting more than recognition for his efforts.

Thomas Cox is one of five people receiving a $100,000 “Purpose Prize.” The awards program recognizes those 60 and over who have created fresh solutions to old problems. The New York Times and the Portland Press Herald have stories, and Encore.org has a press release.

Cox represented banks earlier in his career and literally wrote the book on foreclosures. (It’s called Maine Real Estate Foreclosure Procedures for Lenders and Workout Officers, according to the Times.) But his work led to “major-league depression,” culminating in a divorce, retirement and a second career as a carpenter, according to the Portland Herald.

Then in April 2008, Cox joined Pine Tree Legal Assistance and began representing consumers fighting foreclosures. In 2009, while representing Nicolle Bradbury, Cox discovered that a GMAC Mortgage official was signing thousands of foreclosure affidavits in 23 states, though he had not verified their accuracy. Cox won the case but the impact was more widespread. His findings helped spur 49 of 50 state attorneys general to sue the five biggest mortgage servicers for fraudulent foreclosure practices, leading to a $25 billion settlement.

Cox told the Times that he plans to use his prize as seed money for two programs. One will train Maine lawyers how to do consumer protection work and how to obtain attorney fees from the corporate defendants. Another will bring retired lawyers together to help mentor new lawyers.

He also plans to spend a little bit of the cash for a fishing trip to the Bahamas.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “How 2 Pro Bono Lawyers Uncovered ‘Robo-Signer,’ Halting Foreclosures in 23 States”

ABAJournal.com: “Humble Maine Home, Ex-Lender Lawyer at Epicenter of Storm Over Defective Docs in Foreclosure Cases”

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