Main Issues That Will Be In the News in 2014 for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The New York Times on January 10 published an excellent overview of the most important agenda items in 2014 for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the still relatively new and very powerful federal regulator and enforcer for the consumer financial services industry. The Bureau will focus this year on the use of arbitration clauses in contracts with consumers, overdraft fees, student loans, debt collection, credit report disputes, and prepaid cards. The first item — use of arbitration clauses — could be a blockbuster. A decision to ban arbitration clauses would force changes in the practices of many banks and financial services companies and could mean more lawsuits in general and more class action lawsuits in particular. Stay tuned for reports throughout the coming year on all the issues under the Bureau’s scrutiny.

Does Size Matter When Hiring a Law Firm?

Today is the first day of month two of my law firm.  I founded this firm based on the idea that changes in the economy and legal market have opened up room for boutique firms that offer high quality legal services, personalized attention, and flexible financial terms.  Reaction in month one from clients, prospective clients, and many lawyer friends has been overwhelmingly positive.

An article published on January 3 in Corporate Counsel provides further support for my hypothesis. Here is an excerpt:

There is no doubt that clients are under greater pressure today to protect and grow their bottom lines; the business environment is tough for everyone. Given the environment, businesses are both more focused on keeping their legal fees in check and more open-minded as to how that can be most effectively accomplished. The search for quality lawyering does not start and stop with the largest and most recognizable law firms anymore. There is a growing willingness to look to both middle-market, full-service law firms that are modeled to provide more senior-level practitioners at more rational billing rates, and smaller boutiques that offer more focused practice areas.

I don’t think for one minute this means the demise of the large law firm; there will always be large litigation and corporate matters that clients bring to large law firms. But sophisticated clients recognize that medium, small, and boutique firms can deliver real value on many types of legal matters.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts on this subject.