On May 8 and 9, 2008, the Center for Social Justice, led by Professor Linda E. Fisher, hosted a national conference for research scholars, advocates, and government officials concerned about subprime lending and the current credit crisis. Participants from the United States and Australia represented a wide range of disciplines, from legal scholars and practicing lawyers to economists, political scientists and city planners. The participants agreed that the magnitude of this crisis requires comprehensive solutions reflecting an understanding of the complexity of the issues involved.
The keynote remarks were delivered by Jim Carr, Chief Operating Officer of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition in Washington, D.C., a leading advocacy organization comprising more than 600 local nonprofit and community development agencies. The closing luncheon address was presented by Martin Gruenberg, Vice-Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Panelists presented papers on various aspects of the crisis, including data documenting the effects of subprime lending, as well as proposals for policy changes and legal reforms that could help prevent future crises. Highlights:
Presenters from the New York University Furman Center for Real Estate Law, the University of North Carolina Center for Community Capital, Rutgers University and Ohio State University Law School documented the spillover effects of foreclosures on neighborhoods and various cities’ responses to the problem;
Presenters from NYU Law School and the University of Sydney addressed the role of disclosures in consumer transactions, with commentary from a representative of the National Consumer Law Center;
A third panel concerned the role of third-party actors in debt collection, with presenters from the University of Utah Law School and Southern Methodist University Law School.
The first Friday panel addressed systemic risk issues in subprime lending, with presenters from Loyola Los Angeles and Valporaiso Law Schools and a commentator from FreddieMac.
The final panel of the conference examined various policy proposals to prevent similar credit crises in the future, and participants from the University of Connecticut Law School, Rutgers-Newark Law School and Chapman University Law School concluded with suggestions for reform.
The conference also featured a screening of the feature-length documentary film Home, directed by Seton Hall University Political Science Professor Jeffrey Togman, with commentary by Prof. Regina Austin of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The film chronicles the efforts of a single mother in Newark to buy a home for her family.
The planning committee for the conference also included Practitioner-In-Residence Michael Barbosa and leading scholars Patricia McCoy, Kathleen Engel, and David Reiss.