By Adam Colorado
Professor Dalié Jiménez is embarking on a new project that focuses on innovative ways to combat financial distress. The project, tentatively entitled “Remedying Financial Distress,” seeks to gauge the effectiveness of methods to relieve financial distress at various points of intervention.
“There has been very little research on the effectiveness of lawyers. Do lawyers make a difference? Are they really changing people’s lives?” These are among the questions that Jiménez and her colleagues seek to answer.
With a background in bankruptcy and prior work experience at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), before starting her teaching career in the Fall of 2012, Jiménez is well aware of the types of financial distress that burden individuals.
Jiménez asserts that there is a domino effect associated with financial distress. The distress leads to a low mental performance on the part of a consumer, which then translates into making poor financial decisions. Suddenly, according to Jiménez, what originally was a problem with, for example, a bad credit score has grown into a problematic living situation with a greater sense of urgency.
Law professors from Maine and Harvard, along with law students, are joining Jiménez in conducting the experiment, which is projected to continue for three years. Despite being the brainchild of academics, entities ranging from federal government agencies to the local not-for-profit sector have collaborated in constructing the experiment. While the experiment will be conducted in Maine, Jiménez notes that it has the potential to affect policy changes on a much larger scale.
And while she does have other research projects, particularly dealing with bankruptcy and student debt, for Jiménez, this is her largest and perhaps most consequential project.
“Nobody has ever tried something like this project before…on this scale,” said Jiménez, noting the extensive reach of this experiment.
While the current project has yet to commence, Jiménez is optimistic that there will be results that can help those who are plagued with financial problems.