Foreclosure Mediation Paralegal Al Piedra has spent the last seven years helping low-income people save their homes. Around the time of the 2007 mortgage crisis, Al saw several of his friends going through housing issues, and as a homeowner himself, he wanted to help.
Al came to CVLS two and a half years ago, from the Legal Assistance Foundation. His case management work includes communicating with bank personnel, housing counselors and other case managers to help his clients navigate the loan modification process. Oh, and did we mention, that Al is fluent in Spanish? Al translates documents, interprets during client interviews and occasionally in Court, in addition to working on mediation cases with Spanish-speaking clients.
His favorite part of the process is the enforcement – after putting in the work, Al enjoys seeing a bank agree to modify a client’s loan, which leads to the client keeping his or her home, or as Al puts it, “back on track.”
“These people are usually in a tough place,” he says. “They just need a little empathy.”
Empathy is something Al has learned throughout his education, from majoring in English and Spanish at Northeastern Illinois University to earning his Masters in Legal Studies from John Marshall Law School; and his career, from retail and restaurant management to legal aid.
Al believes working at CVLS, with what he happily describes as a “tight-knit group,” is important not only because of the clients but also because of the volunteer engagement. Placing pro bono cases with volunteers, he says, gives attorneys the opportunity to help on cases they wouldn’t normally get the chance to take.
“It’s challenging,” Al says, “but rewarding.”