BY MARC MOSS
You probably know him as “judge,” but there is another side to Scott Ugell. He is also Mr. Scott B. Ugell, Esquire, local attorney specializing in bankruptcy and consumer law.
Ugell has been practicing law for nearly 30 years, graduating Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication in 1982, Hofstra University’s School of Law in 1985 and gaining bar entry in 1986. Debt and consumer issues has been his focus, a field in high demand the past 15 years following the “dot com” bust of the early 2000s, the new bankruptcy laws and regulations of 2005 and the economic crash and continued fizzle of 2008 till today.
Ugell is on the front lines of the economy, seeing with his own eyes the true conditions. He said the reality is not necessarily what we want to hear.
“The economy is not doing better. We are not creating the jobs that have been lost. Look at what the fed chair said; they cannot raise interest rates because the economy is too vulnerable,” Ugell said.
In this climate it is not a surprise that Ugell has been busy advising clients on bankruptcy law. His focus is specifically on Chapter 7, 13 and occasional Chapter 11 personal bankruptcies. Ugell also assists clients with loan modifications and mortgage issues.
A challenge many clients are facing these days is dealing with an overvalued mortgage purchased at the height of the housing market in 2006 and 2007. Ugell works with banks to change the terms of problem mortgages when possible. The banks have been required by New York law to be proactive in the process and if they are not cooperative the state Supreme Court in apt to intervene.
Ugell also finds himself busy ensuring clients benefit from the protections with FDCPA, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Though the federal law banned many predatory debt collection techniques, collection agencies do not always follow the law. In fact creditors sometimes hire unscrupulous agencies who are known for inventing traumatizing storylines to pressure debtors into payment.
One common lie advanced by such actors, Ugell says, is to claim they are in contact with police and threaten that the police will take action against their family. This is highly illegal, Ugell said. These cases are generally handled in federal court.
When he is not pursuing private practice as a lawyer, Ugell can often be found in a black robe, playing the role of town justice of Clarkstown. According to Ugell practicing as a lawyer helps him be a better judge.
“Being a lawyer makes you a better judge,” he said. “You’re in the trenches and sympathetic to peoples’ plight. You understand people should be treated with respect.”
Ugell has a comprehensive website that can answer many of your initial questions about bankruptcy and consumer law. Visit www.ugelllaw.com.
Scott B. Ugell is admitted to practice law in the State of New York, the Southern and Eastern District of the United States District Court in New York (the District Courts includes the Bankruptcy Court) and the United States Supreme, Family, County and Surrogate Courts.