“Early in my career, a young man complained to one of my partners that his auto finance company had force placed insurance on his vehicle and then repossessed it when he could not pay the exorbitant charges for the insurance. Our investigation into the force placed insurance industry and discovery of widespread abuses led to my first consumer law case. Eventually, this one case led to a series of class actions that I litigated around the country over the next eight years.
The entire experience was an eye opener for me. In the course of the litigation, I realized that millions of consumers were being victimized by industry-wide practices that had gone for years undetected. Consumer law litigation offered a way to expose systematic abuses by auto finance companies as well as recover hundreds of millions of dollars for consumers. Ultimately, I had the satisfaction of knowing that a willingness to help one consumer and to determine whether his rights had been violated led to a series of successful class actions that completely reformed the force placed insurance industry and directly benefited millions of people.
It also launched my consumer law career. I formed lasting and impactful relationships with other consumer lawyers through the litigation that led to my involvement in dozens of other cases over the following decades. In this respect, there is a direct link between my first consumer case and every other consumer law case that I have litigated over the years.
There is something in common in all of these cases that I have done. I have always been drawn to litigation in situations where someone has been ripped off, taken advantage of or otherwise victimized by the powerful. I have tried to apply my skills and utilize the relationships that I have developed to step in to champion the cause of ordinary consumers who frequently have no one else to stand up for them.
Things have changed so much since the beginning of my career. My first NCLC conference was in Denver in 1993, with maybe 90 people total in attendance — now there’s nearly 900. From relationships I made at that conference, I was fortunate to spend time on NCLC’s board. And though much has changed since that 1993 conference, I am proud of the NCLC I know today because the organization has continued to play the same role, for me and so many others, as they did when I took on that first case — providing resources to learn, connections to use, and confidence that others have my back to fight for vulnerable consumers.”