March 31, 2013

Our Mini-Theme: The Brave New World of Consumer Financial Services

Nicole F. Munro

As one of the flagship committees in the Business Law Section, the Consumer Financial Services Committee (CFSC) provides excellent educational and networking opportunities for its members, which include over 1,200 consumer and industry lawyers, academics, members of the judiciary, and government representatives.

Each January, we have a stand-alone meeting of just the CFSC. From Saturday evening through Tuesday afternoon, we provide over 12 hours of substantive CLE accredited programming led by the country's brightest and most accomplished consumer financial services lawyers. We foster lively discussions on the most relevant topics in today's fast-paced and constantly evolving world of consumer financial services law.

During each spring, and beginning fall 2014, each fall, we meet with the ABA's Business Law Section. In addition to the substantive consumer financial services CLE programming, and the collegiality of the Winter Meeting, at these meetings, we often partner with other Business Law Section Committees, such as Banking Law and Cyberspace, to expand the educational and networking opportunities for CFSC lawyers. The Spring Meeting and future Fall Meeting include both substantive subcommittee meetings and three to four consumer financial services focused CLE programs.

We have an active Young Lawyers Subcommittee and each year host a National Institute on Consumer Financial Services Basics for lawyers new to consumer financial services. We welcome new consumer financial services lawyers, young and not so young, with mentoring programs and speaking and writing opportunities.

We dedicate this mini-theme issue of Business Law Today to the new super-regulator of the consumer financial services industry - the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Born from Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act (Pub. L. No. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376 (2011)), this fledgling organization has divided and multiplied exponentially, growing into the most powerful supervisory and enforcement authority of federal consumer financial services laws. Creating a brave new world of consumer financial services, the CFPB has vigorously pursued enforcement actions against large banks, engaged in supervisory examinations of "larger participants" and their progeny, enacted sweeping mortgage regulations, adopted regulations on debt collectors and consumer reporting agencies, issued civil investigative demands, commissioned studies on issues relating to federal finances services, and much more.

In this issue, Frank Springfield and Zachary Miller of Burr & Forman, LLP, in Birmingham, Alabama, discuss the CFPB's ability to supervise debt collectors, including lawyers engaged in debt collection, that were declared "larger participants" in its final rule published October 24, 2012.

Steven Forry, of Ice Miller, LLP, in Columbus Ohio, reviews the CFPB's authority to regulate unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices. The article addresses the CFPB findings of deception in enforcement actions against Capital One Bank, Discover, and American Express relating to credit card add-on products marketed by each entity through third-party service providers.

The CFPB has the authority to conduct examinations of: (1) banks, savings associations, and credit unions with assets of over $10 billion ("large depository institutions"); (2) consumer mortgage companies, payday lenders, and private education lenders; (3) any "larger participant" in a market for consumer financial products or services; and (4) anyone who engages in "conduct that poses risks to consumers with regard to the offering or provision of consumer financial products and services." In his article, Eric Mogilnicki, of Wilmer Hale, in Washington, D.C., describes the CFPB's examination authority and activities and the legal issues raised by this new examination legal regime.

We welcome you to join the Consumer Financial Services Committee. The benefits are many, and the cost of joining is zero. We hope to see you at the Spring Meeting, April 3-6 in Washington, D.C., or a meeting in the future. Please visit us at the CFSC website.


Additional Resources

For related materials on this topic, please refer to the following.

Business Law Spring Meeting Programs

Extreme Makeover Consumer Protection Edition: A Look at the CFPB's New Regulations and Compliance Expectations
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Thursday, April 04, 2013
International Ballroom East, Concourse Level, Washington Hilton Hotel

CFPB: Investigations, Enforcement Actions, and Settlements
2:30 PM - 4:30 PM, Thursday, April 04, 2013
International Ballroom East, Concourse Level, Washington Hilton Hotel

Nicole F. Munro