Skip to main content

Consumer Financial Services Q2 2021 Update


Speaker(s): Adina H. Rosenbaum, Beth E. Terrell, Christopher J. Willis, J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, John J. Roddy, Julia B. Strickland, Katherine E. McCarron, Marguerite L.. Moeller, Nicholas Smyth, Nicklas A. Akers, Qian (Sheila) Shen, Sabita J. Soneji, Sasha M. Samberg-Champion, Shennan A. Kavanagh, Thomas P. James
Recorded on: Jun. 10, 2021
PLI Program #: 322239

Adina H. Rosenbaum is an attorney at Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington, DC, where she has worked since 2004.  She specializes in appellate litigation, with an emphasis on consumer rights, access to civil justice, and administrative law. Adina has argued cases on topics including the relationship between the FDCPA and state law, the effect of Rule 68 offers on class actions, and the scope of National Bank Act preemption. She is a graduate of New York University Law School and Harvard College and was a judicial law clerk for Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.


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.


J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo is an executive who serves as the Principal Deputy Director of the CFPB’s Office of Fair Lending & Equal Opportunity, which coordinates the Bureau’s efforts to fulfill its responsibilities to ensure fair, equitable and nondiscriminatory access to credit and has played an integral role in providing executive leadership throughout the Bureau on various policy initiatives including the Bureau’s Tech Sprints, Special Purpose Credit Programs, limited English proficiency, LGBT consumers issues, public assistance income, and credit invisible, underserved, and underbanked individuals.

Frank previously served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, Office of the Attorney General; Senior Counsel to the New Jersey State Public Advocate; and as Chief of Enforcement for HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in Region 2 (New York, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico).  Frank was also in private practice with a focus on administrative law, labor law, and discrimination in housing, lending, employment, education and public accommodations.  Frank is a graduate of Northwestern University and Boston University School of Law and lives in Maryland with his husband and son.


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 21 years.


Marguerite Moeller is an attorney in the Division of Financial Practices at the Federal Trade Commission. She has investigated, litigated, and resolved matters involving unfair and deceptive practices, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Marguerite received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and clerked for the Hon. Richard H. Kyle of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.


Sheila Shen is an attorney in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice Group of Holland & Knight's New York office. Ms. Shen is a trial and arbitration lawyer who has secured favorable outcomes for clients in state and federal court actions, as well as in alternative dispute resolution proceedings.

Her clients have worked with Sheila in complex commercial disputes, including consumer finance class actions and disputes implicating state UDAP/UDAAP statutes.  Her representative matters include a putative class action against a national bank related to electronic fund transfers, and defending multiple universities in putative class actions asserting statutory UDAP/UDAAP claims arising out of COVID transitions to remote learning.

Sheila graduated from Fordham University School of Law, where she was a pro bono scholar and graduate fellow in the Consumer Litigation Clinic.  During that tenure, she was primarily responsible for bringing a case on behalf of a disadvantaged client against a national bank involving consumer credit, identity theft and novel issues under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.


Shennan Kavanagh is the Deputy 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.


Tom James serves as the Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Fraud Bureau of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General where he holds the position of Consumer Counsel. Tom has been a litigator in that Office since 1988 and has extensive knowledge of major federal and state consumer protection statutes. In recent years he has concentrated on credit-related unfair and deceptive financial practices and associated anticompetitive market behavior. He’s participated on various regional and national multi-state enforcement teams specializing in cases against individuals and institutions engaged in sales and marketing misrepresentation, predatory price distortion, wealth and equity stripping, fair-lending violations, and structural unfairness and loan product abuse in the home-loan and mortgage-lending, consumer-credit and securitization markets. Tom’s also worked extensively in drafting commentary, statutes and regulations in collaboration with legislative staff, not-for-profit organizations, major community banking and state bank associations, and state and federal regulators. He helped draft the Illinois High Cost Home Loan Act of 2004, the Illinois Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Act of 2007, and the Illinois Consumer Installment and Payday Loan Reform Act of 2010. Tom is a past member of the Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council.  Before becoming a lawyer, Tom worked as a housing counselor for the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities in Chicago where he assisted inner-city public housing tenants relocate to privately-owned residential units on a metropolitan-wide basis. Tom earned his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and is licensed in California and Illinois.


In almost 20 years of practice, Sabita J. Soneji has developed extensive experience in litigation and legal policy at both the federal and state level and a passion for fighting consumer fraud. Now a Partner in Tycko & Zavareei’s Oakland office, she focuses on consumer protection class actions and whistleblower litigation. In addition to her success with novel Telephone Consumer Protection cases, False Claims Act cases involving insurance fraud, and deceptive and false advertising cases, Ms. Soneji serves in leadership on multi-district litigation against Juul, for its manufacture and marketing to youth of an addictive nicotine product. Ms. Soneji also successfully represents consumers harmed by massive data breaches and by corporate practices that collect and monetize user data without consent. She serves as head of the firm’s Privacy and Data Breach Group.

Ms. Soneji began that work during her time with the United States Department of Justice, as Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General. In that role, she oversaw civil and criminal prosecution of various forms of financial fraud that arose in the wake of the 2008 recession. For that work, Ms. Soneji partnered with other federal agencies, state attorneys’ general, and consumer advocacy groups. Beyond that affirmative work, Ms. Soneji worked to defend various federal programs, including the Affordable Care Act in nationwide litigation.

Ms. Soneji has extensive civil litigation experience from her four years with an international law firm, her work as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of California, and from serving as Deputy County Counsel for Santa Clara County, handling civil litigation on behalf of the County including regulatory, civil rights, and employment matters. She has successfully argued motions and conducted trials in both state and federal court and negotiated settlements in complex multi-party disputes.

Early in her career, Ms. Soneji clerked for the Honorable Gladys Kessler on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, during which she assisted the judge in overseeing the largest civil case in American history, United States v. Phillip Morris, et al., a civil RICO case brought against major tobacco manufacturers for fraud in the marketing, sale, and design of cigarettes. The opinion in that case paved the way for Congress to authorize FDA regulation of cigarettes.


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.

 

 


Recruited in 2017 by Attorney General Josh Shapiro to start the nation’s first “mini CFPB,” Nicholas Smyth manages investigations and litigation of 12 to 15 attorneys involving student lending, mortgages, auto finance, payday lending, debt collection, credit reporting, debt settlement, scams, and COVID-related price gouging. Working closely with other states and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Smyth’s team has obtained nearly $200 million in relief for Pennsylvania consumers. Public lawsuits and settlements include Navient (M.D. Pa), Wells Fargo, Equifax, Citibank, Think Finance (E.D. Pa), and Dominion Management (Phila. Ct. Com. Pl.). In June 2019 Smyth testified before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services about student loan servicing. He was elected to the American Law Institute in 2020. From 2014 to 2020, he was the Vice Chair and then Chair of the American Bar Association’s Federal and State Trade Practices Subcommittee, part of the Consumer Financial Services Committee.

Prior to joining the Office of Attorney General, Smyth spent four years as a CFPB Enforcement Attorney. He was the fourth employee at the CFPB, having previously worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury on the team of attorneys that, working closely with Congressional staff, drafted and revised the Consumer Financial Protection Act in 2009-10. In between his stints in government, Smyth was also a Senior Counsel at an auto finance company and a Senior Associate at Reed Smith. He earned his B.A. and J.D. from Harvard. He was born in Ireland and grew up in Pittsburgh, where he resides with his wife and two daughters.


Katherine E. McCarron is an attorney in and the chief of staff of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection in the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, where she investigates and prosecutes violations of U.S. federal laws governing the privacy and security of consumer information.

Katherine graduated from Stanford Law School in 2002.  After graduation, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable William W. Schwarzer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  She worked as an associate for Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, focusing on corporate internal investigations and white collar criminal defense, and as an assistant counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives Office of General Counsel.  Katherine joining the Commission staff in 2012.  She received her M.A., with distinction, from the London School of Economics and Political Science; and her B.A., cum laude, from Yale University.


Christopher J. Willis is an Atlanta-based partner at Ballard Spahr and The Practice Group Leader of the firm's Consumer Financial Services Litigation Group. He counsels financial institutions on consumer financial regulatory matters, advises them on compliance with consumer financial services laws, and defends them in both individual and class action lawsuits, as well as governmental enforcement actions (including numerous CFPB enforcement investigations). Chris chairs the firm's Fair Lending and Collection Documentation Task Forces. Chris is a frequent author and speaker on issues relating to consumer financial services.


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.