18 Feb Yvanova v. New Century: How Caselaw Can Shape Legal Internet Marketing
The Yvanova Decision Represents an Incredible Opportunity for Real Estate Law Firms to Reach New Clients via Legal Internet Marketing.
Earlier today, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage Corporation, and it represents the figurative bombshell. Yvanova overturns decades of long-standing precedent involving real estate law in California, upending the relative positions of the homeowner and a foreclosing lender in the courtroom. And, smart real estate attorneys in California – on both sides of the aisle – should be using the occasion to engage in legal internet marketing of their real estate law firms, right now.
Great content is the key to legal internet marketing; it engages the reader on a topic of importance to them, delivering traffic and interest to your website that can then be converted into a potential client (or a “lead” in marketing parlance). Seems easy enough, until you realize that there are many law firms out there already generating content targeted to keywords that you may also want to target. How does a law firm stand out amongst the masses in legal internet marketing? For lawyers, new caselaw represents a unique and fantastic opportunity to separate their law firm from the herd online – because there is likely far less content targeting the new case precedent, and particularly so in its early stages.
A Little Background on the Yvanova Decision.
Because this comes from my former practice area, the Yvanova decision holds significant interest to me, and it is a bona-fide gigantic decision in the real estate legal space. For years – think decades – delinquent borrowers were faced with pretty high hurdles to clear when wanting to challenge a completed non-judicial foreclosure in court (e.g. a foreclosure done under a power of sale in a Deed of Trust, rather than through a formal court case). These doctrinal hurdles generally included “standing”, the “tender rule”, and the “prejudice rule”.
A common tactic when attacking a foreclosure has been to allege that the assignment of the note and deed of trust was defective, therefore eviscerating the entire foreclosure process upon which it was predicated. With the notable exception of one appellate court in a decision known as Glaski v. Bank of America (2013) 218 Cal. App.4th 1079, every other court in the Golden State has more or less held that a delinquent borrower lacked “standing” to sue a foreclosing lender for alleged defects in the assignment – on grounds the borrower was not a party or third-party beneficiary to the assignment or its underlying agreement. While mortgage lenders were generally aware they had a “Glaski problem” in that particular court’s footprint, they generally were able to prevail on “standing” pretty uniformly throughout California.
Further discussion on the finer legal points involved with this jurisprudence is far beyond this post, but the sum of things is this: Prior to Yvanova, it was very difficult for borrowers to successfully challenge a non-judicial foreclosure in court, particularly after the foreclosure sale was completed. The vast majority of cases ended up getting tossed out on demurrer, or at worst on a motion for summary judgment (for example, this author’s prior firm was 16-0 in such cases). Very few cases ended up mired in discovery, with even less going to trial – resulting in a litigation environment that was generally favorable to mortgage lenders, who didn’t have to spend a fortune in legal fees before jettisoning these sorts of cases.
With today’s Yvanova decision, the litigation environment for borrowers and foreclosing lenders has just shifted 180 degrees. In Yvanova, the California Supreme Court held that Glaski, supra, was correct in its holding – and that a delinquent borrower who can successfully allege that an assignment was void does, in fact, have standing to pursue a claim of wrongful foreclosure. (I will also avoid discussion on the tort of wrongful foreclosure, other than noting it is a judicially created tort that is now permanently cemented as a cause of action in large part because of today’s Yvanova decision.)
So, Yvanova represents a tectonic shift in the ground on which borrowers and foreclosing lenders stand, tilting the playing field more in the favor of the borrower – who can now survive demurrer much more easily, forcing the foreclosing lender to now spend significant legal fees in discovery and trial preparation (fees that can easily reach into the 5-figure and 6-figure level). Even where the lender ends up winning, the transaction costs to do so have now shot up dramatically – significantly increasing the leverage counsel for borrowers can exert in the game known as litigation.
[READ THE FULL OPINION: Yvanova v. New Century Mortgage Corporation, decided 2/18/2016 by the California Supreme Court]
Yvanova and Its Golden Legal Internet Marketing Opportunity.
Real estate attorneys on both sides of the aisle should be looking at the Yvanova decision as an incredible opportunity to market their law firms on the web. Lawyers who represent borrowers can expect potential clients to hear of the Yvanova decision on various message boards, etc. – and it would be wise for them to generate content optimized to keywords associated with the Yvanova decision. Similarly, law firms that represent mortgage lenders can expect their clients to hear plenty about Yvanova in coming weeks, and should expect them to jump online looking for guidance – and it would be wise to ensure these law firms generate content optimized to how their clients will be searching online.
Although there will be plenty of ink spilled about this decision, the time is now for real estate attorneys to leverage the Yvanova decision to gain online exposure for their real estate law firms. Real estate lawyers who properly target their law firm’s content to today’s Yvanova decision are likely to see increased website traffic in coming weeks, months, and years – resulting in increased digital lead generation and more future clients. And, it presents real estate law firms a chance to generate content that stands out from the herd, that is relevant to their clients and future clients, and that is not (yet) saturated in search channels.
It is extremely important to note here the distinction between internet marketing and client relations. The two are related, but have different aims. Without a doubt, Yvanova is also a great client relations tool, allowing real estate attorneys to talk with and consult with their existing clients and leads as a trusted counselor. But, the value of caselaw like Yvanova to saavy law firms should go far beyond a mere client relations play – situations like Yvanova create a unique chance to build high-quality online content that will rank well when tomorrow’s clients begin to search for answers (and a law firm to help them).
Of course, the mileage obtained when leveraging new caselaw for legal internet marketing will vary depending on the execution. For example, a strategic plan to consistently and methodically tie the case name in with expected high-value keywords related to the case is likely to drive significantly better results than a one-time legal treatise (that few potential clients will understand). And, any attempts at law firm internet marketing turn out better with a professional website designed to optimize conversions. (All things that a professional legal internet marketing agency can do.) But, the point here remains the same: Unlike many other businesses, lawyers can – and should – be using caselaw in a targeted content campaign to drive lead generation from their legal internet marketing efforts. And, Yvanova represents a great opportunity for real estate attorneys to do just that, right now.
OneDemand offers law firm website design services and legal internet marketing services to law firms and attorneys nationwide, although we do operate out of the southern California region (Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties). And, unlike any other agency in the space, OneDemand’s legal internet marketing clients get the personal involvement of a partner-level attorney from strategy to content generation. Feel free to reach out for a free no-obligation consultation.
Scott J. Jackson, Esq.