Chris Willis
Chris Willis

Christopher J. Willis

Partner

willisc@ballardspahr.com
Tel 678.420.9436
Fax 678.420.9301
Atlanta

Christopher J. Willis devotes his practice to assisting financial services institutions facing government investigations and examinations, counseling them on fair lending risk and compliance assessments, and defending them in individual and class action lawsuits brought by consumers and enforcement actions brought by government agencies.

Mr. Willis also chairs the firm's Collection Documentation Task Force and the Fair Lending Task Force. His clients span the financial services industry and include banks and non-banks, mortgage banking lenders and servicers, debt collectors and buyers, third-party service providers, student lenders and servicers, and auto finance companies.

Mr. Willis speaks nationally on the subject of consumer financial services law and has been featured in numerous articles in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, American Banker, National Law Journal, BNA Bloomberg, and Bank Safety and Soundness Advisor.

Representative Matters

  • Represented multiple financial services companies in responding to civil investigative demands issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in areas including auto finance, mortgages, credit cards, payment processing, credit card add-on products, and debt collection
  • Served as lead counsel in multiple force-placed insurance cases around the country
  • Advised multiple financial services companies in conducting compliance reviews in anticipation of examinations by the CFPB
  • Conducted fair lending risk assessments for banks and non-banks, covering mortgage, credit card, auto financing, and other product lines
  • Represented a bank in ACH class actions related to payment processing for alleged illegal lending activity
  • Represented an auto lessor in a nationwide Consumer Leasing Act class action
  • Conducted a UDAAP assessment for a large credit card rewards program   

Pro Bono Experience

Mr. Willis has represented Zoo Atlanta pro bono since 2007.

Judicial Clerkships

Hon. James H. Hancock, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, 1996-1997

Professional Activities

American Bar Association, Consumer Financial Services Committee

Atlanta Bar Association

Master, The Lamar American Inn of Court, affiliated with Emory University School of Law

Recognition & Accomplishments

American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers, Fellow

Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, financial services regulation: consumer finance (litigation), national ranking, 2014

The Best Lawyers in America, banking and finance litigation, commercial litigation, 2013-2015

Recognized as a "Georgia Super Lawyer" for business litigation, 2012, 2013, and 2014

Named a "Super Lawyers Rising Star," 2009-2011

Publications

"CFPB Issues Second Annual Report on FDCPA Activities" and "The CFPB's Annual Debt Collection Complaint Report," Conference on Consumer Finance Law (CCFL) Quarterly Report, Vol. 68, No. 1

Co-author, "CFPB Debt Collection Rulemaking: Bringing Social Media into the Mix," Bloomberg BNA's Social Media Law & Policy Report, March 25, 2014

Co-author, "Prepare Now! Anticipate Regulation of Add-On Products," Dealer Business Journal, June 2013

"The Industry Reacts: The CFPB Needs Our Help," Reverse Review Magazine, September 2012

Co-author, "Advertising Review Redux," Reverse Review Magazine, July/August 2012

Co-author, "The Problem with the DOJ's Case against GFI Mortgage," Law360, April 10, 2012

Co-author, "Reverse Mortgage Documentation: Learning the Lessons from Forward Mortgage Foreclosures," Reverse Review Magazine, March 2012

Co-author, "Preparing for the New Challenges of Fair Lending," Bloomberg Law Reports, February 24, 2012

"CFPB Focus: Consumer Protection Or Consumer Complaints?" Law360, December 12, 2011

"It May Take Two to Tango Under RESPA," Law360, October 31, 2011

Co-author, "Reverse Mortgage Regulation in the New World After Dodd-Frank," Reverse Review Magazine, January 2012

"UDAP Class Actions and the Foreclosure Crisis—Potential Theories of Recovery and Defenses to Liability," Practising Law Institute, 2011

"What Is an Attorney General's Burden of Proof? Evidentiary Requirements in UDAP Actions Brought by State Attorneys General," Practising Law Institute, 2010

"Nuts and Bolts of Rescission under TILA," Review of Banking & Financial Services, 2010

"Fair Lending Class Actions: An Analysis of Class Certification Issues," Review of Banking & Financial Services, 2009

Speaking Engagements

Mr. Willis regularly speaks at national-level seminars on topics relating to consumer financial services litigation, such as CFPB regulations and enforcement, unfair and deceptive trade practices litigation, credit reporting and debt collection issues, and mortgage lending litigation. Recent presentations include:

"Auto Finance IV: Regulatory Scrutiny of Ancillary Products in Auto Finance and Leasing," Ballard Spahr webinar, November 5, 2014

Panelist, "Update From the CFPB's Recent Debt Collection Activities," 22nd Annual Financial Services Collections + Operational Risk Conference, Las Vegas, October 28, 2014

Panelist, "CFPB Examinations: From the Lens of Experience," National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys' 2014 Fall Conference, Las Vegas, October 25, 2014

"Auto Finance III: UDAAP in the Auto Finance and Leasing Industries," Ballard Spahr webinar, October 21, 2014

"Auto Finance II: Fair Credit," Ballard Spahr webinar, October 16, 2014

Panelist, "Installment Lending: Payday Loans Title Loans, Indirect Auto Contracts, Student Loans," American Bar Association's Fifth Annual National Institute for Consumer Financial Services Basics, Baltimore, October 7, 2014

"Auto Finance I: How the CFPB's Larger Participant Rule for the Auto Finance Market Will Change the Game for Nonbank Auto Finance Companies," Ballard Spahr webinar, September 30, 2014

Panelist, "What's New at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," 2014 NCHER Fall Legal Meeting, Washington, D.C., September 26, 2014

Panelist, Class Actions Seminar presented by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia, Atlanta, September 5, 2014

"The CFPB-ACE Cash Express Consent Order: Bad News for Debt Collectors and Lenders?" Ballard Spahr webinar, August 19, 2014

Panelist, "How a Larger Participant Rule Will Impact Auto Finance Companies," Auto Compliance Roundtable 2014, Chicago, July 30, 2014

"The CFPB's Debt Collection Focus: A Review of the Bureau's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Where We Think They Are Headed," Ballard Spahr webinar, July 17, 2014

"State Regulators and AGs Flexing New Enforcement Muscle under Dodd-Frank," Ballard Spahr webinar, July 10, 2014

"Conflating Best Practices and the Law: Implications of the DOJ SCRA Settlement," Ballard Spahr webinar, June 19, 2014

"Lessons Learned from the CFPB’s First 35 Enforcement Cases," Ballard Spahr webinar, May 29, 2014

"Putting Your Practices under the Fair Lending Microscope," Ballard Spahr webinar, May 14, 2014

Panelist, "Compliance Management Systems," Auto Finance Risk Summit 2014, Newport Beach, California, May 6, 2014

Panelist, "UDAAP Risk Assessments," American Bankers Association Regional Banks General Counsel Group Meeting, Washington D.C., May 1, 2014

Panelist, "Fair Lending," PLI's 19th Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute, New York, NY, April 7, 2014 and Chicago, IL, April 28, 2014

Panelist, "Understanding the Growing Influence of the CFPB over Credit Unions & CUSOs," 2014 NACUSO Annual Conference, Orlando, April 17, 2014

"The CFPB's First 1,000 Days," Ballard Spahr webinar, April 16, 2014

Panelist, "Consumer Financial Services Basics – Fair Lending Regulation and Enforcement," American Bar Association's Business Law Section Spring Meeting, Los Angeles, April 12, 2014

Panelist, "Student Lending Vendor Management," Consumers Bankers Association Live 2014, Washington D.C., April 1, 2014

"Reputation and Conduct Risk: What It Means to Regulators and What Banks Need To Do about It," Ballard Spahr webinar, March 25, 2014

"False Claims Act Cases and FHA Lending," Mortgage Bankers Association, Residential Loan Production Committee and Litigation Subcommittee Webinar, March 11, 2014

Moderator, "Regulatory and enforcement Roundtable Part II, The View from State Agencies and Attorneys General on New and Emerging Initiatives, Enforcement Actions, and Investigations," America Conference Institute's 17th Conference on Consumer Finance, Class Actions and Litigation, New York, January 30, 2014

Panelist, "CFPB Supervision and Examinations," 2014 NCHER Winter Legal Meeting, Washington D.C., January 24, 2014

Panelist, "Insight From a Year of CFPB CIDs and Examinations," InsideARM Large Market Participant Seminar 2014, Washington D.C., January 24, 2014

Panelist, "The CFPB – Horror Stories from the Trenches," CU Revest, LLC One-Day CEO Executive Briefing, Orlando, January 22, 2014

"Regulatory Guidance on Third-Party Relationship Management—More Than a Restatement," Ballard Spahr webinar, January 9, 2014

"Dos and Don'ts in Government Investigations of Consumer Financial Services Companies," Ballard Spahr webinar, December 20, 2013

"Is It the School of Hard Knocks for Student Loan Servicers?" Ballard Spahr webinar, December 18, 2013

"The CFPB's Debt Collection Rulemaking: Our Predictions and the Potential Impact on the Industry," Ballard Spahr webinar, November 25, 2013

"Why the Disparate Impact Theory May Not Matter to Fair Lending Supervision and Enforcement at the CFPB," Ballard Spahr and Gupta Beck webinar, November 20, 2013

Panelist, "Hot Regulatory Issues in Auto Finance," Auto Compliance Forum, San Diego, November 13, 2013

"Will Fessing Up Give You Brownie Points with the CFPB? Bureau Encouraging 'Responsible Conduct'," Ballard Spahr webinar, October 30, 2013

"Hot Topics in CFPB Examinations and Civil Investigative Demands, and How to Prepare for Them," SourceMedia Collections & Operational Risk Seminar, October 22, 2013

"Lessons Learned from CFPB Examinations and Civil Investigative Demands in the Debt Collection Industry," NARCA 2013 Fall Collection Conference, October 18, 2013

"FDCPA Basics, Hot Issues, and Best Practices," Ballard Spahr webinar for the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, October 9, 2013

Panelist, "CFPB Examination and Enforcement Preparedness," 2013 CRIF Lending Solutions Forum, Savannah, Ga., September 25, 2013

"A Deep Dive into Automotive ECOA Issues Associated with Dealer Finance Charge Participation," "The Next Regulatory Shoe to Drop: The Looming Scrutiny of Add-on Products in Auto Finance," and "The CFPB," Association of Consumer Vehicle Lessors Annual Conference, September 16-17, 2013

"Regulatory Guidance for Debt Sellers and Buyers: Spurring Evolution in the Industry," Ballard Spahr webinar, September 10, 2013

Panelist, "The Two-Year Anniversary of the CFPB: A Look Back and a Look Forward," Ballard Spahr webinar, August 22, 2013

"UDAAP Front and Center – Mitigating Risk," Ballard Spahr webinar, August 7, 2013

Panelist, "CFPB's Examination and Enforcement Program," EFC/NCHER Student Loan Legal Meeting, New York, August 5, 2013

"Coping with New Developments in Debt Collection: The CFPB's New Complaint Portal, Recent Debt Collection Bulletins, and Consumer Action Letters," Ballard Spahr webinar, August 1, 2013

Moderator, "Regulatory and Enforcement Roundtable Part 1: The View from Federal Agencies and State Attorneys General on New and Emerging Priorities and the Nexus Between State and Federal Regulatory and Enforcement Initiatives," American Conference Institute's 16th National Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions & Litigation, Chicago, July 30, 2013

"CFPB Audit: Are You Ready?" Lorman webinar, July 18, 2013

"The CFPB’s Evolving Complaint Database – Risk Management Essentials," Consumer Data Industry Association webinar, July 17, 2013

"Regulatory and Litigation Challenges to Lender-Placed Insurance," Ballard Spahr webinar, May 29, 2013

"Supposed Drop in Mortgage-Related Litigation May Be Just an Illusion," Ballard Spahr and Mortgage Daily webinar, May 17, 2013

"Coping with a Growing CFPB Database of Consumer Complaints," Ballard Spahr webinar, May 15, 2013

Panelist, "Ready or Not: The CFPB is Out on Patrol,” NARCA Spring Collection Conference, Las Vegas, May 11, 2013

"Auto Finance Industry in the CFPB's Crosshairs," Ballard Spahr webinar, April 16, 2013

Panelist, "Ready or Not: The CFPB is Out on Patrol,” Commercial Law League of America's 119th National Convention and 83rd Chicago Spring Meeting, Chicago, April 11, 2013

Panelist, "CFPB Enforcement Update," Practising Law Institute's 18th Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute, New York, April 8, 2013

Panelist, "Fair Lending," American Bar Association Consumer Financial Services Spring Meeting, April 5, 2013

"The CFPB's Proposed Rule Defining Larger Participants in the Student Loan Servicing Market," Ballard Spahr webinar, April 1, 2013

"HUD's FHA 'Discriminatory Effects' Final Rule – What It Means for Fair Lending Litigation and Enforcement," Ballard Spahr webinar, March 27, 2013

Panelist, "Creditors, Collectors, and Debt Buyers Beware: What the FTC's Debt Buying Study Means for the Consumer Financial Services Industry," Ballard Spahr webinar, February 21, 2013

Panelist, "Defending Against and Obtaining Insurance Coverage for CFPB and Other Governmental Investigations," Ballard Spahr webinar, February 13, 2013

Panelist, "Ready or Not, Here Comes the CFPB," 16th Annual DBA International Conference, Las Vegas, February 7, 2013

Panelist, "The Impact of the D.C. Circuit Court NLRB Ruling on the CFPB," Ballard Spahr webinar, February 4, 2013

Moderator, "Regulatory and Enforcement Roundtable Part II: The View from State Agencies and Attorneys General on New and Emerging Initiatives," 15th National Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions & Litigation, New York, February 1, 2013

Panelist, "The CFPB and Consumer Finance Litigation: Preparing for New and Emerging Regulatory Priorities, an Increase in Enforcement Actions, and Enhanced Oversight and Heightened Scrutiny of Financial Institutions and Nonbank ‘Larger Participants,’ Including Debt Collection Agencies," 15th National Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions & Litigation, New York, January 31, 2013

Panelist, "The CFPB Has Thrown Down the Fair Lending Gauntlet! Part II in a Ballard Spahr Webinar Series on the CFPB Education Loan Examination Procedures," Ballard Spahr webinar, January 16, 2013

Panelist, "The CFPB Will Not Be Grading on a Curve! Part I in a Ballard Spahr Webinar Series on the CFPB Education Loan Examination Procedures," Ballard Spahr webinar, January 15, 2013

Panelist, "Happy Anniversary Director Cordray: A Look Back at the Highlights of the CFPB Director’s First Year and What To Expect During 2013," Ballard Spahr webinar, January 9, 2013

Panelist, "The CFPB's Amicus Program: Its Implications and Potential Impact," Ballard Spahr webinar, November 21, 2012

Panelist, "A Deep Dive into the CFPB Debt Collection Examination Procedures," Ballard Spahr webinar, November 20, 2012

Panelist, "What Debt Collectors, Debt Buyers, and Collection Lawyers Need To Know About the CFPB Larger Participant Rule and CFPB Exams," Ballard Spahr webinar, November 6, 2012

Panelist, "Ballard Spahr's CFPB Election Scorecard," Ballard Spahr webinar, November 2, 2012

"Culture Change – Managing Customer Experience," Financial Services Collections Credit Risk Conference, October 25, 2012

Panelist, "Ready or Not – CFPB Examinations," NARCA 2012 Fall Collection Conference, October 19, 2012

Panelist, "Board of Directors and Management Involvement in Consumer Compliance and Consumer Risk," Ballard Spahr webinar, October 15, 2012

Panelist, "Fair Lending Lessons from the DOJ's Settlement with GFI," Ballard Spahr webinar, October 10, 2012

Panelist, "Preparing for the CFPB," Association of Consumer Vehicle Lessors (ACVL) Lessor Legal Committee Meeting, October 1, 2012

Panelist, "How To Respond to CFPB Civil Investigative Demands," Ballard Spahr webinar, August 29, 2012

Panelist, 2012 Dodd-Frank Webinar Series, "Part 2: The New Age of the Whistleblower," October Research LLC, August 23, 2012

Panelist, "The CFPB Report on Private Student Loans and Its Implications for Examinations and Enforcement Actions," Ballard Spahr and Navigant Consulting webinar, August 22, 2012

Panelist, "Your Questions about CFPB Answered," American Collectors Association International, August 16, 2012

Panelist, "The Top 10 Ways To Get in Trouble with the CFPB," Ballard Spahr webinar, August 14, 2012

Panelist, "The CFPB Turns One: A Look Back and a Look Ahead," American Bar Association Annual Meeting, Business Law Section, August 3, 2012

Moderator, "Regulatory and Enforcement Roundtable Part I: The View from Federal Agencies on New and Emerging Initiatives," and Panelist, "Fair Lending: Managing and Defending Against Claims of Discriminatory Lending and Assessing the Status of 'Disparate Impact' in Lending Litigation and Enforcement," American Conference Institute's 14th National Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions & Litigation, July 31, 2012

Panelist, "Part 1: CFPB's Supervision of Loan Originations," 2012 Dodd-Frank Webinar Series, October Research LLC webinar, July 26, 2012

Panelist, "The One-Year Anniversary of the CFPB: A Look Back and a Look Forward," Ballard Spahr webinar, July 23, 2012

"Avoiding Fair Lending Scrutiny in the Dodd-Frank Era," Mortgage Mastery Series interview, Abacus Mortgage Training and Education, June 2012

Panelist, "Service Provider Relationships in the CFPB Era, Safeguarding Yourself from Regulatory Liability," Ballard Spahr webinar, June 20, 2012

Panelist, "The Fate of Mortgage Fee Mark-Ups: After Freeman v. Quicken Loans," Ballard Spahr webinar, June 18, 2012

Panelist, "Beyond the Numbers: The Impact to the Industry of the Multistate/National Mortgage Settlement, Parts IV and V, Third-Party Vendor Management: Oversight and Liability Monitoring, and Reporting: The Continuing Evolution of the Servicing Standards," Ballard Spahr webinar, June 12, 2012

Panelist, "The Explosion in Residential Mortgage Litigation: What Explains the Recent Trends and Spike in Filings," Ballard Spahr webinar, May 30, 2012

Panelist, "Update on Privilege in the Litigation and Regulatory Process," Mortgage Bankers Association’s Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference, May 20, 2012

Panelist, "Whistleblower Claims and Qui Tam Lawsuits: The Latest Assault on the Consumer Financial Services Industry," Ballard Spahr webinar, May 14, 2012

Panelist, "Staying Off the Regulatory Radar: Handling Complaints to Minimize Examination and Enforcement Risk," Ballard Spahr webinar, May 8, 2012

Panelist, "From UDAP to UDAAP – UDAAP Front and Center," American Bankers Association Risk Management Forum, May 4, 2012

Panelist, "Beyond the Numbers: The Impact to the Industry of the Multistate/National Mortgage Settlement, Part III, Enforcement Actions and Litigation: FHA, AGs, CFPB and Beyond," Ballard Spahr webinar, April 24, 2012

Panelist, "The Way Forward – Fair Lending and Disparate Impact Analysis after the Dismissal of Magner v. Gallagher," Ballard Spahr webinar, April 19, 2012

Panelist, "CFPB Exams for Mortgage Companies," Ballard Spahr webinar, April 18, 2012

Panelist, "The Industry’s Reaction to the CFPB’s First Nine Months" and "Hot Litigation Topics," Minnesota State Bar Association’s Ninth Annual Banking Law Institute, April 16, 2012

"Ready or Not: Preparing for a CFPB Examination," ACA International teleseminar, April 12, 2012

Panelist, "Beyond the Numbers: The Impact to the Industry of the Multistate/National Mortgage Settlement, Part II, Data, Documentation and Enhanced Consumer Interactions: The Challenges of Implementing the New Servicing Standards," Ballard Spahr webinar, April 11, 2012

Panelist, "Mortgage Litigation," Practising Law Institute’s 17th Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute, April 9, 2012

Panelist, "Beyond the Numbers: The Impact to the Industry of the Multistate/National Mortgage Settlement, Part I, Identifying and Prioritizing the New Servicing Standards," Ballard Spahr webinar, April 4, 2012

Panelist, "What Does the Multistate/National Settlement Mean to the Mortgage Industry?" Ballard Spahr webinar, March 6, 2012

Panelist, "Fair Lending and Other Compliance Issues," Institute of Continuing Education in Georgia's Seminar on Banking and Finance Law, February 17, 2012

"The Meaning of Richard Cordray’s Appointment as Director of the CFPB," Ballard Spahr webinar, January 18, 2012

Panelist, "The Next Billion-Dollar Issue—Documentation in Non-Mortgage Collections: Preventive Measures," Ballard Spahr webinar, January 12, 2012

"Consumer Lending – Will Documentation Issues Affect Non-Mortgage Lending?" Ballard Spahr webinar, November 22, 2011

Moderator, "Consumer Finance Class Actions and Litigation," in-house counsel roundtable, American Conference Institute's Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions and Litigation, Orlando, October 27-28, 2011

Panelist, "Recent Trends and Developments in eDiscovery for the Financial Industry," Ballard Spahr webinar, October 13, 2011

Moderator, "Consumer Finance Class Actions and Litigation," State and Federal Regulatory Roundtable Panel, American Conference Institute's Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions and Litigation, Chicago, July 27-28, 2011

"Strategies for Examining and Handling Whistleblower and Retaliation Claims Panel," American Conference Institute's Advanced Forum on Whistleblower Enforcement and Compliance, New York, March 2011

Panelist, Class Action Developments and UDAP panel, Practising Law Institute's Consumer Financial Services Litigation Institute, New York and Chicago, February and April 2011

Panelist, Arbitration and Dodd-Frank panels, American Conference Institute's Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions and Litigation, New York, January 27-28, 2011

"UDAP Litigation Against Financial Institutions on the Rise: Defense Strategies for Individual, Class Action and State AG Enforcement Actions," Strafford Publications Webinar, November 30, 2010 

Moderator, In-House Counsel Roundtable on Mortgage Lending Litigation, American Conference Institute's Forum on Residential Mortgage Litigation Regulatory Enforcement, October 2010

Guest on the KUCI radio show "Privacy Piracy," discussing information security, privacy, and identity theft issues, September 13, 2010

"State Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Litigation," Practising Law Institute's Consumer Financial Services Institute, February and April 2010

"Truth in Lending Act Litigation," American Conference Institute's Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions & Litigation, January 2010

"Mortgage Lending Litigation," Practising Law Institute's Consumer Financial Services Litigation Institute, 2008 and 2009

Presenter at numerous in-house seminars for clients, including Recent Developments in Consumer Financial Services, Reasonable Investigations Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Closed-End Mortgage Loan Disclosure under the Truth in Lending Act, Securities Litigation Risk Areas for Public Companies, and Protecting the Attorney-Client Privilege

Board Memberships

Zoo Atlanta, Board of Directors
Member, Facilities Committee

Samford University, Cumberland School of Law (J.D. 1996, summa cum laude)
Articles Editor, Cumberland Law Review; Graduated first in class

University of Alabama at Birmingham (B.A 1993)

Alabama

Georgia

U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama

U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Middle Districts of Georgia

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit