The Chicago Tribune reported last week that Fisher and Shapiro had 1700 foreclosure cases stayed in Cook County. The General Administrative Order is pretty interesting. HERE is a link to the order. The Court set up a new courtroom to handle these cases. The order establishes the new court calls, outlines the procedures that Fisher and Shapiro must use to spindle their motions for the special calls, provides for notice to all parties and unknown tenants, and requires courtesy copies to the Court before all of the hearings.
The order also requires that Fisher and Shapiro file five separate motions on each case, if applicable -- a Motion to Vacate Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale, a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Affidavit, a Motion to Vacate Judicial Sale, a Motion to Lift the Stay, and a Motion to Vacate Confirmation of Sale. Then the law firm has prepare new affidavits and basically re-start the entire process.
This is going to take huge amounts of work. Someone has to pay for attorney hours, paralegal hours, trips to the clerk's office, courtesy copies, notices, postage, and photocopies into the hundreds of thousands. I figure that it will take a minimum of five billable hours to get each case back on track, maybe more. Even though Fisher and Shapiro is probably efficient with the volume, and will be firing on all cylinders, you still have to account for defense lawyers and sympathetic judges. It will take months to get some of the cases back on track.
I'm not going to speculate whether the law firm or the banks will bear the majority of these costs, but I will speculate as to the total cost of lost productivity to the law firm. Five hours per case multiplied by 1700 cases is 8500 hours. That's more than a million dollars worth of time if the hourly rate is more than $117, which it probably is. At $200 per hour, that is $1,700,000. You get the idea. That is an enormous about of billable time that could have been devoted to something else. And it could get really ugly if homeowners decide to use this situation as an excuse to start looking deeper at the banks' and/or law firms' prior practices. I think 8500 lost hours is the minimum that this will cost. That would be a fatal blow to a lot of law firms. We'll see what happens in the next couple of months.