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26th Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute

Speaker(s): Ariel C. Nelson, Arjun P. Rao, Beth E. Terrell, Bret Ladine, Carol Evans, Christopher J. Willis, Colin Winkler, F. Paul Bland, Jr., Jane M. Azia, Jason ‘Jay’ Barnes, John J. Roddy, Julia B. Strickland, Katherine A. Lemire, Kelly Thompson Cochran, Kristin A. Kemnitzer, Lawrence D. Brown, Linnet Davis-Stermitz, Mike Pierce, Nicklas A. Akers, Nicole Mikiko Tadano, Shennan A. Kavanagh, Stephen F. Hayes, Theodore R. Flo
Recorded on: Dec. 7, 2021
PLI Program #: 306686

Carol Evans is Senior Counsel and Team Lead in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity. Carol focuses on algorithmic bias, innovation, and research. She has authored publications about the implications of fintech trends for consumer protection, equity, and financial inclusion. Carol also serves as a co-vice-chair of the American Bar Association, Business Law Section, Consumer Financial Services Committee. She joined the CFPB in 2021 from the Federal Reserve Board. At the Board, she provided strategic direction and legal expertise to the Federal Reserve’s consumer protection activities, including efforts to promote socially beneficial innovation. Carol graduated magna cum laude from both Smith College and Harvard Law School.

Chris is the co-leader of the Consumer Financial Services Regulatory practice at the firm. He advises financial services institutions facing state and federal government investigations and examinations, counseling them on compliance issues including UDAP/UDAAP, credit reporting, debt collection, and fair lending, and defending them in individual and class action lawsuits brought by consumers and enforcement actions brought by government agencies.

Chris also leverages insights from his litigation and enforcement experience to help clients design new products and processes, including machine learning marketing, fraud prevention and underwriting models, product structure, advertising, online application flows, underwriting, and collection and loss mitigation strategies.

Chris brings a highly practical focus to his legal advice, informed by balancing a deep understanding of the business of consumer finance and the practical priorities of federal and state regulatory agencies.

Chris speaks frequently at conferences across the country on consumer financial services law and has been featured in numerous articles in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington PostAmerican BankerNational Law JournalBNA Bloomberg, and Bank Safety and Soundness Advisor.

Colin Winkler serves as senior counsel for ACA International, the accounts-receivable management industry’s 501(c)(6) trade association. Colin has a diverse legal and professional background, having worked as a financial crimes consultant with Wells Fargo Bank, where he investigated potential money laundering in the context of the Venezuelan currency crisis in 2019; an attorney-editor with Thomson Reuters’ statutes editorial team, where he led early research on the California Consumer Privacy Act; a federal contractor for CACI International at the U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division, where he worked hand-in-hand with DOJ attorneys to enforce civil tax liabilities through litigation in federal courts; and a collections and creditors’ rights attorney in both solo practice and at a collections law firm in northern Virginia, where he handled legal collections and litigation relating to retail, commercial, and medical debt.

John is a partner in Bailey & Glasser’s Boston office. His practice is devoted to representing consumers in class actions, challenging unfair and deceptive business practices, and serving as relator’s counsel in qui tam “whistleblower” actions. In the last two decades the settlements in cases he has litigated have returned more than a billion dollars to consumers harmed by marketplace misconduct. John regularly writes and speaks on class action practice and consumer financial services law, and has published dozens of articles on these topics. He is a fellow of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers, and serves on the Consumer Financial Services Law Report Board of Advisors, the Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Appleseed Foundation, and the National Consumer Law Center Partners Council. He is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the Volunteer Lawyers Project. John has co-chaired PLI’s Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute for the past 24 years.

Katherine Lemire has extensive financial services regulatory and enforcement experience. She most recently served as Executive Deputy Superintendent at the New York State Department of Financial Services, overseeing the Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division. In that role, Ms. Lemire oversaw regulatory and enforcement actions brought against international banks, insurance companies, cryptocurrency businesses, as well as money transmitters, mortgage servicers, student lenders, fintech companies, and other financial services providers. Katherine also led the initial enforcement investigations into violations of the DFS cybersecurity regulations.

At DFS, Katherine was a member of the Virtual Currency Licensing Committee, and advised the Superintendent on pending license applications. Under her leadership, DFS initiated multiple enforcement investigations into cryptocurrency businesses.

Katherine previously served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, and as a prosecutor in the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney's Office. Katherine is an experienced trial lawyer, and has argued multiple appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Katherine also has extensive monitorship and government oversight experience. She has served as a court-appointed Special Master in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, and was appointed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an Independent Consultant in connection with a settlement between the SEC and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She also led an investigative team reviewing the activities of a Swiss bank in the course of a regulatory monitorship. She oversaw compliance reviews for one of the largest construction unions in the United States, pursuant to a federal monitorship. She has also supervised investigative and audit teams to conduct oversight reviews on behalf of multiple New York City agencies. 

Linnet Davis-Stermitz is an associate at Gupta Wessler PLLC, where she focuses on cutting-edge public interest and plaintiffs’-side appellate litigation. At the firm, Linnet has litigated before the U.S. Supreme Court, numerous federal circuits, and multiple state courts. Her practice covers a wide range of legal issues, including consumer class actions, forced arbitration, fair housing, administrative law, environmental law, personal jurisdiction, preemption, employee-benefits law, and standing.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court, Linnet has been the primary drafter of both petition- and merits-stage briefing, including a successful brief in opposition on a personal jurisdiction question and merits-stage amicus briefs on questions involving forced arbitration and securities class actions. Linnet has also drafted briefs on an array of difficult and novel legal questions in the federal circuits, including a pending Ninth Circuit appeal on a nationwide issue of first impression concerning the interpretation of a consumer-protection statute and a pending Fourth Circuit appeal concerning the enforceability of “infinite” arbitration clauses. In addition, Linnet has represented plaintiffs and public-interest organizations in novel ground-up litigation, including a successful, first-of-its-kind administrative-law challenge to a midnight regulation promulgated by the outgoing EPA administrator.

Linnet joined Gupta Wessler as a Fellow in Appellate and Constitutional Litigation following her clerkships with Judge Michelle Friedland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Alison Nathan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She received her J.D. with honors and pro bono honors from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was a Rubenstein Scholar and a Comments Editor for the University of Chicago Law Review, and her B.A. with highest honors from Swarthmore College.

Mike is Executive Director and co-founder of the Student Borrower Protection Center. He is an attorney, advocate, and former senior regulator who joined SBPC after more than a decade fighting for student loan borrowers’ rights on Capitol Hill and at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For the past three years, Mike served as the founding Policy Director and Managing Counsel at SBPC.

Before he left government service to start the SBPC, for seven years, Mike was the CFPB’s lead subject-matter expert on higher education and consumer protection. He advised all aspects of the Bureau’s work related to student lending, servicing, debt collection, and oversight of for-profit colleges. From 2015 to 2017, Mike also served as a Deputy Assistant Director of the Bureau, leading the day-to-day operations of the Bureau’s Office for Students and Young Consumers.

Prior to joining the staff at CFPB, Mike served as a policy advisor to Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-03), where he assisted in the passage of legislation creating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and worked on the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. 

Mike’s work on behalf of student loan borrowers has appeared in national print publications and broadcast media, including The New York TimesBBCNational Public RadioPolitico, and The Washington Post.

Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy from George Washington University, and a JD from the Marshall-Wythe Law School at the College of William and Mary. As a law student, Mike worked in the Office of Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education.

Ariel C. Nelson is a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center focusing on credit reporting, employment and tenant screening, and criminal justice debt issues. She is the author of NCLC’s report Broken Records Redux: How Errors by Criminal Background Check Companies Continue to Harm Consumers Seeking Jobs and Housing and a contributing author of NCLC's Fair Credit Reporting and Collection Actions treatises. Previously, Ariel litigated administrative and environmental law cases as a staff attorney/clinical teaching fellow at Georgetown University Law Center. She also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Judge David O. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and to the Honorable Judge Dorothy W. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She earned her B.A. with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley and her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School.

Arjun Rao practices in all areas of complex commercial litigation, with particular emphasis on consumer class actions and financial services litigation. He regularly counsels clients regarding regulatory matters and government investigations. He defends clients in a wide range of actions arising from lending and retail banking operations, including for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Truth-In-Lending Act and numerous provisions of state law, including California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act, and the Uniform Commercial Code. In addition, Arjun has extensive experience representing clients in connection with automobile lending.

The Los Angeles Business Journal recently honored Arjun as a “Top Minority Attorney” in 2021 and a “Top Litigator and Trial Lawyer” in 2019 and 2020. Arjun has also been recognized by the Daily Journal as a “Top 40 Under 40” lawyer and listed to Benchmark Litigation’s “40 and Under Hot List.”

Beth E. Terrell is a founding member of Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC, a Plaintiff side law firm in Seattle, Washington. With over twenty years of experience, Beth concentrates her practice in complex litigation, including the prosecution of consumer, defective product, and wage and hour class actions.  Beth has served as co-lead counsel on multi-state and nationwide class actions, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements for consumers and workers.  A member of the State Bar of California and the Washington State Bar Association, Beth Co-Chairs PLI’s Consumer Financial Services Institute, and frequently presents on a wide variety of topics, including class actions, consumer protection, legal ethics, gender equity, and electronic discovery. Beth is President of the Public Justice Foundation Board of Directors, serves on the Equal Justice Works' Board of Counselors, and is Chair of both the Northwest Consumer Law Center and the Washington Employment Lawyers Association.

Bret Ladine was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom as General Counsel at the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation in 2020 after serving as Assistant General Counsel and in other acting capacities since 2016.  He provides legal and strategic advice related to the state’s regulation of financial institutions, financial services, and securities, with a focus on emerging policy issues, and played a lead role in shaping the California Consumer Financial Protection Law.  Previously, Ladine was a securities litigator and investigations attorney at Hogan Lovells and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, he was the communications director for Congressman Dennis Cardoza of California and reported for the Boston Globe and Times-Picayune.  He received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and B.A. from Yale University.

Jane Azia has been the Chief of the Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection in under Attorney General Eric Schneiderman since May 2011.  From April 2007 through April 2011, she served as the Director of Consumer Protection for the New York State Banking Department where she was responsible for ensuring compliance with applicable consumer protection laws and that consumers have access to and receive financial products and services that are fair and not predatory.  Prior to joining the Banking Department, Jane worked for nearly twenty-five years as an Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the New York Attorney General in the Consumer and Internet bureaus.  Jane has worked on a wide range of consumer issues, including predatory lending, credit and financial services, advertising, retail sales, health care, insurance, product safety, housing, telecommunications, telemarketing, food and drugs, privacy and online services.  Jane also spent five years as a legal services attorney in Brooklyn and Poughkeepsie.  Jane is a graduate of NYU Law School. 

Kelly Thompson Cochran is the Deputy Director of FinRegLab, a nonprofit innovation center that tests new technologies and data to inform public policy and drive the financial sector toward a responsible and inclusive financial marketplace. Among other responsibilities, she oversees FinRegLab’s research and policy engagement on data issues, including regulation of consumer financial data and the use of traditional and alternative credit information for lending and other purposes.

Prior to joining FinRegLab, Kelly helped to stand up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where she served as the Assistant Director for Regulations for seven years. In that capacity, she oversaw rulemaking and guidance activities under the Dodd-Frank Act, Electronic Fund Transfer Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and various other federal consumer financial laws.

Kelly previously was counsel at WilmerHale, where she advised financial institutions on a wide range of legal and regulatory matters including product development, compliance, enforcement, and litigation. She was a law clerk to the Honorable David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Honorable James Robertson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Kelly also conducted research on financial services innovation, community reinvestment, and other topics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kristin Kemnitzer is a managing partner at Kemnitzer Barron & Krieg, LLP. The firm’s practice focuses on protecting consumers from economic injustice through both individual cases and class actions. Kristin brings cases involving lemon law, auto fraud, unfair debt collection, illegal repossessions, motorcycle finance, elder abuse, door-to-door sales scams, civil rights violations, and California’s mortgage anti-deficiency statutes.

KBK has represented thousands of consumers in individual fraud and lemon law cases, and hundreds of thousands of consumers in class actions. KBK attorneys have been appointed lead counsel over 250 class actions. They have represented over half a million class members, have obtained recovery of over $500 million for California consumers, and have extinguished over $3 billion in alleged deficiency balances following the sale of repossessed vehicles.

Kristin graduated with honors from Stanford University in 2006 and obtained her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 2011. While in law school, she worked as a judicial extern for the Honorable Randall Rader on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Prior to joining KBK, Kristin was an associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where her practice focused on Internet and copyright litigation and class action defense.

Kristin is frequently asked to speak on consumer law topics. She is a yearly speaker at the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, has lectured at law schools, gives frequent trainings to legal aid organizations throughout California, has spoken at the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) spring training conference, has lectured at a Practising Law Institute (PLI) conference, and has spoken on CBS News. She has also published on consumer law topics in Law360 and in Plaintiff Magazine and was an editor of NCLC’s Consumer Warranty Law treatise.

Lawrence Brown serves as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for the Responsible Banking & Consumer Data Use group within the Legal Department of JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (Chase). Lawrence’s practice focuses primarily on fair lending and responsible banking issues.

Before joining Chase, he spent nearly eight years at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) conducting investigations and representing the agency in public enforcement actions. He handled cases involving large bank sales practices, debt collection through high volume collection litigation, private student lending programs at for-profit colleges, mortgage originator compensation and debt-relief services.

Lawrence managed his own small firm for a few years before joining the CFPB. He began his career at Haynes and Boone, LLP in Dallas, Texas representing entities in commercial litigation. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School as well as the University of Texas at Austin and is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and Texas.

Nicole Tadano works to defend clients facing privacy-related class actions, consumer-protection class actions and data breach litigation. Nicole also leverages this experience to advise and guide clients in evaluating and complying with various laws and regulations, including those concerning data security, data breach notification and wiretap and call recording.

Nicole also has a deep background in a broad array of other types of class actions and complex civil litigation, including matters involving securities, employment and contract issues in the technology, media and financial services industries.

Shennan Kavanagh is the Chief of the Consumer Protection Division at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. She is engaged in the day-to-day work in a variety of the Division’s core consumer finance investigations and litigation, including matters involving predatory lending, student loan servicing, automobile sales and financing and debt collection.

Ms. Kavanagh’s entire legal career has been devoted to representing low-income consumers and public service. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Ms. Kavanagh was a co-founder and partner at Klein Kavanagh Costello, LLP, a mission-driven consumer finance class action firm that litigated cases nationwide.  Her areas of concentration included predatory and discriminatory mortgage lending, unfair mortgage servicing, unfair debt collection and creditors’ violations of the bankruptcy code. Ms. Kavanagh practiced in the areas of consumer finance litigation and class actions as an associate at Roddy Klein & Ryan before starting her own firm.

In addition to complex class action litigation, Ms. Kavanagh has handled dozens of pro bono cases during her time in private practice, successfully preventing foreclosures for individuals, obtaining home loan modifications, and stopping harassing debt collectors.

Stephen Hayes is a Partner at Relman Colfax, where he practices in both the Civil Rights Counseling and Litigation groups. Much of Stephen’s work focuses on encouraging best-in-class practices on a range of Fair Housing, Fair Lending, and consumer protection issues, including increasing access to responsible credit for historically underserved populations. Stephen was part of a team that conducted a Civil Rights Audit of Facebook and has represented individuals and organizations in numerous discrimination actions. Stephen previously served in the Legal Division of the CFPB.

Stephen has testified before the House Financial Services Task Force on Artificial Intelligence and presented at various legal conferences and universities, including at events held by the American Bar Association, American Bankers Association, Consumer Bankers Association, FinRegLab, NFHA, NCLC, the Howard University School of Law, and others.

As Zest AI's Chief Legal Officer, I lead legal, policy, and compliance teams to serve every stakeholder of our mission-driven company--employees, customers, regulators, shareholders, and business partners. I handle partnership deals, M&A transactions, contracting, employment issues, litigation, regulatory exams, as well as engagement with external stakeholders at regulators, trades, advocacy groups, and Capitol Hill.

Before Zest, I spent more than a decade in D.C. as a trusted legal advisor to dozens of consumer financial services companies, including international banks, credit card issuers, mortgage lenders, student loan servicers, and small-dollar lenders. I’ve litigated scores of cases, given clients practical and trustworthy regulatory advice, and helped clients navigate high-stakes investigations by the Federal Reserve, DOJ, CFPB, OCC, FDIC, and HUD.

I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland with degrees in Finance and Economics and received my law degree with honors from The George Washington University Law School. I am admitted to practice law in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and California.

Attorney Jason “Jay” Barnes is a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy in the Complex Litigation Department where he focuses his practice on consumer class action lawsuits, including consumer privacy actions. 

Noteworthy Cases

As one of the nation’s leading consumer-privacy attorneys, Jay has argued several notable cases in recent history that are representative of his vast experience and track record of success:

·      Calhoun v. Google, 526 F.Supp.3d 605 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 17, 2021)

·      In re: Facebook, Inc. Internet Tracking Litig., 956 F.3d 589 (9th Cir. 2020)

·      In re: Google Cookie, 806 F.3d 125 (3d Cir. 2015)

·      In re: Nickelodeon Consumer Privacy Litigation, 827 F.3d 262 (3d Cir. 2016) 

Recognized as one of the best litigators in the country, Julia Strickland leads a broad national practice that focuses on the defense of class actions and other complex actions. Julia is regularly called by world-renowned financial services companies and others when they are confronted with issues that put them at substantial economic and reputational risk. She is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee, Managing Partner of the Los Angeles office, head of the firm’s national Financial Services Litigation, Regulation and Enforcement Group, and co-chair of Stroock’s national litigation practice.

In addition to her vast experience successfully representing clients through dispositive motion practice, trial and/or appeal, Julia has a deserved reputation for negotiating and structuring settlements of complex and class actions. She is versatile and creative in addressing settlement considerations, both legal and business, and in developing settlement structure options tailored to the client’s unique needs. She also routinely represents companies in compliance counseling, regulatory proceedings and responding to claims by federal and state regulators and enforcement authorities. Julia’s client list is a “Who’s Who” of financial companies, including American Express, JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Discover, Citigroup, BMW Financial Services and Synchrony Bank, among others.

Julia repeatedly has been recognized as a leader in the field. Julia once again received top honors in Chambers USA 2021 with a Band 1 ranking in the Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance Litigation–Nationwide category.  She is one of only five attorneys across the country to receive this recognition. In addition, for more than 15 years running, the Los Angeles Daily Journal has continuously named Julia one of California’s “Top Women Lawyers.” She also was selected by Law360 as a Banking MVP, joining an elite slate of only six lawyers nationally who have distinguished themselves from their peers. The Los Angeles Business Journal recently honored Julia as a "Women of Influence" in 2021, recognized her as one of its “Leaders of Influence: Top Litigators & Trial Lawyers” in 2019 and 2020, named her one of the “Top Women Attorneys in Los Angeles” in 2018, 2019 and 2020, and featured her in its “Leaders in Law,” where she was awarded the publication’s “Lawyers of the Year” honors in 2016 and 2017. Julia was recognized by leading corporate counsel as a member of the BTI Consulting Group’s “Client Services All-Stars” for her “uncanny ability to anticipate opposing counsel,” as well as being “very customer focused and practical.” She additionally has been repeatedly recognized by Super Lawyers, Benchmark Litigation, the Los Angeles Times and The Best Lawyers in America.



F. Paul Bland, Jr. is Executive Director of Public Justice, overseeing its advocacy and litigation of consumer, environmental and civil rights cases, as well as its communications, development and administrative departments. He has argued and won more than 40 reported decisions from federal and state courts across the nation, including cases in six of the federal Circuit Courts of Appeal and at least one victory in nine different state high courts. He has been counsel in cases which have obtained injunctive and/or cash relief of more than $1 billion for consumers. He has testified a number of times in both houses of Congress and many state legislatures, and has appeared in hundreds of media stories and presented at more than 100 Continuing Legal Education programs throughout the country. He has received a number of honors and awards, including having been named the “Vern Countryman” Award winner in 2006 by the National Consumer Law Center, which “honors the accomplishments of an exceptional consumer attorney who, through the practice of consumer law, has contributed significantly to the well being of vulnerable consumers.” In the late 1980s, he was Chief Nominations Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1986, and Georgetown University in 1983.

Nicklas A. Akers is the Senior Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Consumer Law Section of the California Department of Justice, which investigates and prosecutes violations of California’s consumer protection and privacy laws.  His representative matters include People v. Heald (Corinthian Colleges) and the Volkswagen emissions litigation.  Nick also serves as a Judge Advocate and legal assistance attorney in the California State Guard.  He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the Harvard School of Public Health, and UCLA, and he is admitted in California, Massachusetts and New York.  Nick lives in the San Francisco bay area with his wife, Amy Akers, M.D., and their daughter.