Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

December 24, 2014

Welds on Eminent Domain for Underwater Mortgages

By David Reiss

One of the great joys of being a professor is being able to brag about your students’ accomplishments.  Brooklyn Law School just posted this about Leanne Welds on our website:

Leanne Welds ’14 has been awarded the 2014 Brown Award by The Judge John R. Brown Scholarship Foundation for her paper “Giving Local Municipalities the Power to Affect the National Securities Market.” The Brown Award recognizes excellence in legal writing in American law schools. This is the first time a BLS student has taken first place in the national competition, which awards a $10,000 stipend to the winner.

Welds is currently an associate at Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett LLP in its Real Estate Group. As a student, she served as Executive Articles Editor for the Brooklyn Law Review and was the recipient of the Lorraine Power Tharp Scholarship from the New York State Bar Real Property Section. She was a member of the Community Development Clinic taught by Professor David Reiss, and externed with Enterprise Community Partners, an affordable housing firm. She also served as secretary of the Black Law Students Association.

“It is truly gratifying to have my work recognized in this way,” Welds said. “I picked this topic for my Law Review Note because of my combined interests in both the real estate and social justice aspects of the issue, but I never once thought I could be writing an award-winning paper. I am especially thankful to Professor David Reiss for believing in my work and sponsoring me for this competition, as well as both Professor Brian Lee and Professor Reiss for their detailed and thoughtful comments throughout the drafting process.”

Welds’ winning paper evaluates the constitutionality and wisdom of plans by local governments to condemn underwater mortgages without also condemning the land that is attached to the mortgages. These plans are in response to the foreclosure crisis that has hit certain communities particularly hard. If successful, these plans would result in refinanced and smaller mortgages on homes that have seen their values drop dramatically since the start of the financial crisis. The financial industry opposes these plans because they would reduce the face value of the existing mortgages.

“Leanne is a perfect candidate for this prize,” said Professor David Reiss. “Her passion for the law is complemented by an excellent work ethic, good legal judgment, and serious intellectual firepower. Leanne is a rising star of the bar. I have no doubt she will not only be a valuable member of the bar, but that she will also play a leadership role in the community.”

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