Isaac Gradman, an attorney, book editor and consultant, is one of the country’s leading experts in mortgage-backed securities litigation and other legal issues stemming from the mortgage crisis. While practicing as a commercial litigator at Arnold & Porter (formerly Howard Rice) in San Francisco, Isaac was involved in some of the earliest litigation arising from the subprime mortgage crisis, including the representation of PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., the second largest mortgage insurer in the country, in a suit against originator WMC Mortgage Corp. (and its parent, GE Money Bank), over misrepresentations relating to a $1 billion pool of subprime mortgages. This was one of the first actions of its kind. Isaac also defended PMI in an action by IndyMac Bank in the Northern District of California, in which IndyMac challenged PMI’s rescission of coverage as to a pool of over 6,000 loans for which IndyMac had refused to turn over loan files.
Isaac is currently a Partner at Perry Johnson Anderson Miller & Moskowitz LLP, a full-service law firm based on Santa Rosa, CA. Isaac heads the Mortgage Finance and Structured Products Practice Group, which offers transactional, consulting and litigation services related to all aspects of complex financial transactions, including residential mortgage finance and other structured products. In particular, the firm has significant expertise and experience in managing mortgage putback and repurchase efforts on behalf of mortgage-backed securities (“MBS) investors and insurers, stemming from widespread breaches of representations and warranties, and in pursuing other MBS deal parties for failing to honor their contractual obligations. Isaac represents several MBS investors in various stages of the loss mitigation or putback process, including direct actions against MBS trustees, negotiations and and enforcement of direction and indemnity agreements with trustees, conducting securitization rights and potential recovery assessments, and managing loan file review and reimbursement processes. The firm has expertise in handling every phase of this process, from obtaining access to loan files and managing the re-underwriting process, to directing the trustee and presenting breach claims to the responsible parties, up to and including litigation, if necessary, against loan sellers, sponsors, originators, trustees and/or servicers.
Isaac also consults for clients on issues stemming from this crisis, including the impact of ongoing MBS-related litigation and other special situations where litigation outcomes drive returns. In this capacity, Isaac has provided expertise and the viability of rep and warranty violations, chain of title issues, servicing deficiencies, trustee breaches of fiduciary duty, and securities fraud and tort claims. Isaac’s consulting work for the Gerson Lehrman Group has earned him a ranking in the top 5% of all council members.
Isaac is the editor of the acclaimed book written by Bill Frey of Greenwich Financial Services, entitled Way Too Big to Fail: How Government and Private Industry Can Build a Fail-Safe Mortgage System. Drawing on Frey’s 30 years in structured finance and his experiences building a mortgage backed securities system from the ground up in Russia, Way Too Big to Fail walks through the history of mortgage finance, the blunders that led to and prolonged the fallout from the mortgage crisis, and, most importantly, a plan for how to rebuild the mortgage finance system to attract private investors back to the U.S. market. The book is now available on BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com.
Isaac has authored numerous articles and given presentations on such topics as the procedural hurdles facing investors in securing repurchases and other relief, issues surrounding rights to access loan files, the probability of success and potential losses stemming from putbacks and other mortgage claims, regulatory and legal actions against Ocwen Financial, and the constitutionality of government loan modification efforts. Isaac is regularly quoted as an expert on these issues, and has appeared on Bloomberg Radio and in Businessweek, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. A selection of references can be found here.
Isaac received his B.A. in Political and Social Thought with Highest Distinction from UVA, where he was a Jefferson Scholar, an Echols Scholar and a member of the Raven Honor Society. Isaac received his J.D. cum laude from N.Y.U. School of Law, where he was a Dean’s Scholar and a Robert McKay Scholar. Isaac also clerked for two years for the Hon. Joan Lenard in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Florida.
About the Subprime Shakeout
The Subprime Shakeout law blog was launched in the summer of 2008 by Isaac Gradman with the goal of educating and informing lawyers and non-lawyers alike about securitization, subprime loans, and the lending practices that engendered the country’s most devastating financial crisis since The Great Depression. The Shakeout began by simply following and analyzing the most important litigation and legislation that cropped up in the aftermath of the crisis, most of which was initiated either by stockholders or insurance companies. Soon, however, The Shakeout began to question why RMBS bondholders – which had similar rights to force the repurchase of loans that did not meet established lending guidelines as the bond and mortgage insurers – were not as active as these other stakeholders in enforcing their claims for relief.
Since that time, much of the focus of the blog has shifted to analyzing and advocating the trend of improved transparency and increased bondholder activity in RMBS litigation. In the decade since its launch, The Subprime Shakeout has been frequently recognized in national publications as a leading resource on these and other mortgage litigation issues.
Loyal readers of The Subprime Shakeout will notice that the blog was given a design and organizational overhaul a few years back. This redesign was undertaken in an ongoing effort to make the blog more user-friendly and its content more accessible. Isaac welcomes any feedback regarding these changes.