The need for such a practice has become more evident over themonths, Hockeimer tells GlobeSt.com, with the most recent examplebeing reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has openedinquires into the practices of at least 14 investment and mortgagebanks for possible fraudulent activities. Civil suits are sure tobe part of the landscape in the coming months, he adds, as well asother regulatory actions. "Mortgage companies, bank rating agenciesand appraisal companies have all been looked at by variousregulators."

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Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll is drawing upon lawyers ina variety of practices to staff the new group including theconsumer finance, securities, white collar, regulatory, realestate, investment management, bankruptcy, securitization and taxpractices. The attorneys will continue to work in their respectiveoffices, while assuming this new case load. Hockeimer declined toguess exactly what the case load might be. "It's too hard to sayright now. Federal and regulatory investigations are still in theearly stages and it is too soon to determine how many and what typeof companies will be targeted."

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The firm has eleven offices including in those states hithardest with defaults on loans. "Arizona, Nevada and California areall areas with high default rates and all are states where Ballardhas a strong presence," he says.

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