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OPINION

The Lawyer Business is Booming in Buffalo

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Over the years, many industries have left Western New York, my home turf. 

First, it was Buffalo which saw the famous steel mills close and move to other locales.  Now, it’s Rochester as Eastman Kodak, one of the former great icons, teeters on bankruptcy.  

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As these things occur, young people move away as jobs become fewer and fewer.  However, like the cavalry in a John Wayne movie, one industry has ridden to the rescue: the lawsuit profession. 

OK, maybe not John Wayne, but would you believe Steven Baum?

Originally located in Buffalo, the law firm of Steven J. Baum has become the largest firm in New York and is now known as a “foreclosure mill” firm representing such banks as Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America.  

The firm, in a relatively new industry, attempts to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes. Business is booming.  

Apparently, they make no attempt to help people get mortgage modifications. 

It seems their main objective is to create fear for the homeowner and always foreclose. With the housing market continuing to slide, one would think that a firm this busy  would have a sign outside saying “Help Wanted.” 

However, prospective applicants should keep in mind the Steven J. Baum firm just settled with the NY Attorney General after an investigation determined the firm “filed misleading mortgage assignments,” and is, according to Preet Bharara (U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY), guilty of “sloppy practices that could lead to someone mistakenly losing their home.” 

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Fine: $2 million.  Job seekers, caveat emptor. 

Rochester now appears to its own legal cavalry in the Robert J. Pearl Law Firm.  

Apparently, in my opinion, the Pearl Law Firm has decided to wage war.

I think Pearl’s goal is to create the same type of fear in policy holders of the annuity industry that Baum does for homeowners.  But instead of siding with the big companies, Pearl goes after companies such as Metropolitan Life, Nationwide, Prudential, Jackson National, and Allianz to name a few as the enemies of common folk.  

Pearl asserts that firms’ annuities are “investments [that] were unsuitable for practically any non-institutional investor,” despite evidence that annuities are one of the best investment choices for non-professional investors.     

On the other hand, in my opinion, it appears he also says the ownership of the guaranteed lifetime income feature of annuities and the protection of principal benefits they give investors has created a situation where “people’s financial lives, [are] ruined.”  

This allegation will certainly come as a shock to all those insurance companies that market guaranteed annuities, and also to the millions of people who own guarantees and benefit from them. 

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This news will also certainly astonish the federal government. 

A June 2011 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to the U.S. Senate, states “experts recommended purchase of annuities with a portion of savings.” 

Both type of lawsuits create controversy, business, and finally the money both firms are seeking.   

So, to all you unemployed law school graduates, job opportunities seem prevalent in Rochester as Pearl takes on the insurance industry, the sales people, and even the US government.  

Applicants, also be advised however, the Pearl Law Firm was just investigated by the State of NY Attorney Grievance Committee for unprofessional and unethical behavior.  

It seems Pearl and Baum both are doing their part for job creation.  

Somehow I’m convinced Barack Obama is very proud.

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