From the NY Times:
New York court officials outlined procedures Tuesday aimed at assuring that all homeowners facing foreclosure were represented by a lawyer, a shift that could give tens of thousands of families a better chance at saving their homes.
Criminal defendants are guaranteed a lawyer, but New York will be the first state to try to extend that pledge to foreclosures, which are civil matters. There are about 80,000 active foreclosure cases in New York courts. In more than half of them, only the banks have lawyers.
Under the procedures, which will be put in place in Queens and Orange Counties in the next few weeks and across the state by the end of the year, any homeowner in foreclosure who does not have a lawyer will be supplied one by legal aid groups or other pro bono groups.
Legal aid groups are expected to have foreclosure offices in the courts to handle the influx.
Legal aid groups will find the task of representing all foreclosure defendants easier if the State Legislature agrees to Judge Lippman's request for a $100 million increase in legal services programs spread over the next four years. Current financing for legal services in New York is about $200 million a year drawn from a variety of public and private sources.