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Representing the Pro Bono Client: Consumer Law Basics 2016


Speaker(s): Catherine J. Jones, Dale W. Pittman, Ian B. Lyngklip, Jennifer T. Harley, Joshua R.I. Cohen, Lynn Drysdale, Ronald L. Burdge
Recorded on: Jul. 22, 2016
PLI Program #: 150596

Dale Pittman is one of the first consumer protection attorneys in Virginia. His litigation has resulted in numerous published opinions furthering the rights of victims of consumer credit overreaching and abuse. Dale chairs the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association’s Consumer Law Section. In 2007, he was named the National Association of Consumer Advocates Consumer Attorney of the Year. He was named a 2010 Virginia Leader in the Law by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. He has regularly been selected to Super Lawyers Virginia. In 2014, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association recognized Dale as only the fifth recipient of its Oliver White Hill Courageous Advocate Award periodically presented to an advocate who has demonstrated courage and commitment to the ideals of justice in representing an individual or cause at considerable personal risk. Dale is a 1971 graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and a 1976 graduate of the University of Richmond Law School.


Like many students attending college, part of Josh’s financial aid package included work study – a program which funds a job for a student to help provide money for the student to live off of while attending college. Josh’s job landed him in the financial aid office of Brandeis University. There, he was exposed to financial aid in a way most college students are not. Never in his wildest dreams did he expect that experience to play such an important role in his career.

Many years later Josh found himself in law school at the Quinnipiac University School of Law. As his second year was rapidly coming to a close, Josh began researching summer positions. It was during a discussion with a few professors that Josh learned of consumer law – an area of law that was severely underrepresented with enormous growth potential, and best of all, an area that appealed to Josh’s sense of community activism and fighting for the little guy. During another discussion with a professor that ran the internship programs, he learned of Connecticut Legal Services (Legal Aid) and its unique consumer program – the Consumer Law Project for Elders (CLEP).

Josh immediately called the program director who asked, “You WANT to do consumer law?” Apparently Josh was the first law student requesting to work in the program. This is where Josh was first exposed to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and how it protected consumers from harassing and abusive debt collection conduct.

At CLEP, one project involved an elder gentleman and his student loans. It seemed he had gone to trucking school in the early ’80s but had never paid off his student loan. The man had received a letter threatening to offset his social security if he did not get his loan out of default. Suddenly Josh’s years of working in the Brandeis financial aid office came rushing back. Josh immediately knew what to do and assisted with the paperwork. By the end of the summer, the gentleman had avoided the offset, cured his default, and was making voluntary payments of a reduced amount that did not affect his budget. But still, Josh had no idea this was just the start.

As Josh began his third year of law school, the CLEP director invited Josh to a seminar being given by one of the Connecticut’s leading FDCPA attorneys. By the end of the seminar, Josh had lined up an interview with this lawyer and three weeks later started a part-time job as a law clerk at the lawyer’s firm, the Consumer Law Group.

In October of 2008, Josh went solo, founding the Law Office of Joshua R.I. Cohen. He very much enjoyed doing consumer law and wanted his firm to focus exclusively on consumer law. Specifically, the firm worked on debt collection defense, debt collector harassment and abusive conduct (FDCPA), credit report issues, and debt settlement. Josh also decided to focus on student loan law. Rather quickly, he realized that this was an especially underrepresented area of consumer law and there was a growing need for legal help.

Almost immediately, Josh found debt collection violations running rampant throughout the student loan collection industry. After consulting with his former boss, the two joined forces to bring a few cases with class action potential. In 2011, after being requested by fellow consumer advocates, Joshua started teaching the Student Loan Law Workshop. To date, over 200 attorneys have attended the Workshop.


Catherine J. Jones is a 2001 distinguished military graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Information Studies and a minor in Studio Art.  She graduated from Florida State University College of Law in 2003.  Catherine was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2004, and admitted to practice in the Middle District of Florida in 2010.  Prior to entering private practice, Catherine served as a military lawyer in the United States Army Judge Advocate General Corps.  She was the managing attorney for the legal assistance office in the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where she provided a wide range of consumer protection services.  Her preventive law program earned her office the Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence in Legal Assistance in 2006.  Catherine began representing consumers in foreclosure actions in 2009, extended her practice include consumer bankruptcy in 2010, and began doing consumer advocacy appellate work in 2015. She is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.     

PRESENTATIONS

Orange County Bar Association Luncheon CLE (2015)   

Lecturer— Credit Reporting Issues Post Bankruptcy

Palm Bay Foreclosure Assistance Seminar (2009, 2013)           

Lecturer—Loan Modifications, Foreclosure Defense

Middle District of Florida Subcommittee for Bankruptcy Mortgage Modifications (2010-2012)

Lecturer—Mortgage Modification Mediation in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

 


Ian B. Lyngklip is a partner at Lyngklip & Associates Consumer Law Center PLC. Mr. Lyngklip is a former member and Chairperson of the State Bar of Michigan Consumer Law Section Counsel, and a past Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.  He regularly provides training in consumer law around the country, which have included participation in programs for other consumer advocates, legal aid groups, industry, regulatory bodies, judges, and legislators.  He is the recipient of many honors including the Oakland County Bar Association Pro Bono Service Award, June 2005, the Frank Kelly Award, Michigan State Bar Association Consumer Law Section, September 2004, and the Consumer Advocate of the Year, National Association of Consumer Advocates, October 2003.  He is regularly quoted in articles concern credit reporting and debt collection abuse, and has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Kiplingers, the Scripps Howard News Wire, and the Detroit Free Press.   His firm maintains its web site at www.MichiganConsumerLaw.com.  He graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1987 and the University of Detroit School of Law in 1992.

 


Jennifer T. Harley is the managing attorney of the consumer law unit at Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Inc. Her practice areas include representing consumers in affirmative claims in state and federal court, as well as defending garnishments and post-judgment proceedings, bankruptcy filings, mortgage litigation and defending real property claims. As part of her responsibilities, Ms. Harley is a guest lecturer at community forums and outreach events. Prior to her consumer rights practice, Ms. Harley was an associate at a private firm where she represented creditors. Ms. Harley received her J.D. in 2004 from Salmon P. Chase, College of Law. From 2002 to 2004, Ms. Harley clerked for the Department of Public Advocacy in Frankfort, Kentucky. Her term at the post-trial and appellate division focused on improving criminal justice. Ms. Harley is a member of the Florida Bar and is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida and the Supreme Court of the United States.


Lynn Drysdale is a consumer protection attorney who has been with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc. for over 28 years. She represents consumers in individual and class cases and engages in legislative advocacy relating to debt collection, pay day loans, “spot delivery” motor vehicle sales and financing, military pension loans, automobile title loans and mortgage servicing and origination. She teaches foreclosure defense litigation to consumer law attorneys around the state of Florida, has been a trainer for National Consumer Law Center, National Association of Consumer Advocates, the Naval Justice School and other organizations on a variety of consumer issues. 

She was Co-chairman of the Board of NACA and Chairman of the Florida Bar Consumer Protection Law Committee and has been a contributing writer for the NCLC practice manuals and co-authored The Two-Tiered Consumer Financial Services Marketplace: The Fringe Banking System and its Challenge to Current Thinking About The Role of Usury Laws in Today’s Society, a law review article for the South Carolina Law Review, with distinguished consumer advocate, Kathleen Keest, Esquire. She is presently a member of the Florida Bar Code and Rules of Evidence Committee and was also a member of the Florida Bar Small Claims Rules Committee. She testified before the United States Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in its “Review of the Department of Defense’s Report on Predatory Lending Practices Directed at Members of the Armed Forces and Their Dependents” in September, 2006 and before the same Senate Committee on July 19, 2011 relating to “Enhanced Consumer Financial Protections, After the Financial Crisis.”  She has also testified twice at Federal Trade Commission workshops in Washington D.C. relating to debt collection and once before the Federal Reserve Board at its hearing regarding the Home Ownership Equity Protection Act in Atlanta, Georgia.  She testifies annually before the Florida House of Representatives and Senate.

She was awarded the 2001 National Consumer Law Center’s Vern Countryman Consumer Law Award and the 2014 Consumer Protection Lawyer of the Year as named by the Florida Bar Consumer Protection Law Committee. She is presently an adjunct consumer law professor at the University of Florida, College of Law.


Ronald L. Burdge is the founder of Burdge Law Office in Dayton, Ohio. With 38 years of AutoFraud experience, he has authored numerous articles in national, state, and local publications, and lectured widely on AutoFraud and Consumer Law topics, Attorney Fee issues and trial practice and strategy topics. He has extensive trial and appellate experience in individual and class action cases involving car dealers, manufacturers, lenders and their business practices and is one of the few Consumer Law Trial Attorneys who has class action jury trial experience. Repeatedly named an Ohio SuperLawyer in Consumer Law since 2005, he was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the National Association of Consumer Advocates in 2004 and has been an examiner for the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Since 1999 he has conducted Consumer Law Attorney Fee Surveys resulting in biannual published Reports that have been cited with approval in over 120 federal and state court attorney fee decisions across the United States and numerous Secondary Research Sources. Mr. Burdge is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and has testified in as an expert witness on Consumer Law and Attorney Fee issues in numerous state and federal courts and before the Ohio Legislature.