Well it’s over. It appears the law firm of Steven J. Baum, P.C. in New York is laying off 89 employees and closing up shop.
I doubt you’d recognize the name of the lawyer or the firm but I bet you’ve recognize some of the pictures that were recently published from the office Halloween party in 2010.
This pictures sent to Joe Nocera of the New York Times were the foundation of an article he published on October 29.
In that article by hoe he said the photos had been sent to him by a reader and former employee of the law firm who found the party and subsequent photos showed, “an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners — invariably poor and down on their luck — that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against.”
Baum’s law firm had been under fire for being an alleged foreclosure mill, just cranking out foreclosure proceedings against homeowners unable to make the mortgage payments or get modifications.
The tipster (send in your tips here) that sent in the photos to Joe was concerned about what she saw at the firm. It’s a similar sentiment that readers of this site feel when they send in information to me. They just want to feel good about their jobs and do the right thing for people in a tough spot.
When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm’s mind-set. “There is this really cavalier attitude,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their homes.” Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose. I told her I wanted to post the photos on The Times’s Web site so that readers could see them. She agreed, but asked to remain anonymous because she said she fears retaliation.
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. – Source
In a message to Nocera, Baum blames him for the sudden closure of his firm. “Mr. Nocera — You have destroyed everything and everyone related to Steven J. Baum PC,” said the letter. “It took 40 years to build this firm and three weeks to tear down.”
“There is blood on your hands for this one, Joe,” he wrote at the end of that second e-mail. “I will never, ever forgive you for this.”
Apparently Baum seems to be blaming Nocera for the troubles he faces rather than to understand the issue was not getting caught, but allowing those practices to prevail in his law office.
As Nocera says, ““I think that’s what they call shooting the messenger.”