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Rehabilitated West Park Home at Center of Unusual Case: Legal Aid volunteer attorney secures shelter

First-time homebuyer Nicole Parobek had spent all her savings and six months of sweat equity to rehabilitate her new home. Only after she and her boyfriend had substantially increased its value did a creditor claim a $31,800 lien, threatening foreclosure if they didn’t pay.

When the attorney she hired for the sale refused to talk to her, Ms. Parobek sought help from Legal Aid, where Mark Wallach, a Thacker Robinson Zinz attorney, took her case pro bono.

“I’m sort of the specialist in off-the-wall cases,” Mr. Wallach said of his reputation with Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program. “I like to be able to take a complicated situation and straighten it out.”

The case was unusual for a number of reasons: “Usually people take out a mortgage, and banks require them to buy title insurance, which includes a title search,” Mr. Wallach said. “But here, she was buying the house outright for such a small amount of money.”

To Ms. Parobek’s credit, she kept meticulous records of all the work she had done. She also made a prescient move during the sale by obtaining a signed, notarized document declaring the
home free of liens. Mr. Wallach suspected malpractice, but when the estate attorney indignantly refused to contact his malpractice carrier, Mr. Wallach filed a claim against him.

“That got his attention,” Mr. Wallach said. “His insurance carrier hired counsel to represent him, and that attorney reached a settlement with the creditor’s attorney where the malpractice carrier would pay… and Nicole wouldn’t have to pay anything.”

Ms. Parobek’s victory shows that justice could be won through her own record-keeping and persistence, combined with the prowess and willingness of her Legal Aid volunteer

“They get to keep their house and nobody is going to bother them,” Mr. Wallach said. “It was a sad story with a happy ending.”

Want to be a hero like Attorney Wallach? Join Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program by calling Ann McGowan Porath, Esq. at 216-861-5332. Read more about Ms. Parobek’s story and make a gift to Legal Aid at

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