Christopher J. Willis

Partner
Atlanta
Christopher J. Willis is the Co-Leader of the firm's Consumer Financial Services Group. He devotes his practice to assisting 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 brings his litigation and enforcement experience to bear in assisting clients in designing new products and processes, including product structure, advertising, online application flows, underwriting, and collection and loss mitigation strategies.

Experience 

Representative Matters

  • Led a project to assist a client in developing a new online-delivered installment loan product from scratch, including the product’s structure, the advertising methods for the product, its underwriting methods, and its servicing/collection strategy
  • Defending clients in investigations brought by state attorneys general (including Massachusetts, California and other states), investigations and examinations from state financial services regulators (including the New York Department of Financial Services), and litigating a contested enforcement action against the Pennsylvania Attorney General
  • Represented multiple financial services companies in responding to civil investigative demands issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in areas including auto finance, short-term lending, student loan servicing, mortgages, credit cards, payment processing, credit card add-on products, and debt collection

Professional Highlights

Pro Bono Experience

Chris 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, Vice Chair of the Fair Access to Services Subcommittee

Atlanta Bar Association

Recognition & Accomplishments

American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers, Fellow

Chambers USA, financial services regulation: consumer finance, litigation (Nationwide), 2014-2021; financial services regulation: consumer finance, enforcement & investigations (Nationwide), 2021

The Best Lawyers in America, banking and finance litigation, commercial litigation, 2013-2021; "Lawyer of the Year," litigation-banking and finance (Atlanta), 2021

Speaking Engagements

Chris 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:

Speaker, Practicing Law Institute's 24th Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute, New York, NY, March 25, 2019

Moderator, "Discouragement, Redlining and Targeting: Where Fair Lending and Advertising Meet," American Bar Association's Consumer Financial Services Committee 2018 Winter Meeting, Park City, UT, January 9, 2018

Board Memberships & Community Service

Zoo Atlanta, Board of Directors
Member, Facilities Committee

Publications

Co-author, "The Changing Environment: The Hanna Consent Order and Its Implications for Debt Buyers," DBA the Magazine, Spring 2016

Co-author, "Divided U.S. Supreme Court Holds Disparate Impact Claims Cognizable under FHA, but Subject to Safeguards Against Abusive Disparate Impact Claims," CCFL Quarterly Report, Vol. 68, No. 4

Co-author, "Auto Finance and Disparate Impact: Substantive Lessons Learned from Class Certification Decisions," Consumer Financial Services Law Report, May 1, 2015

Credentials 

Education

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

University of Alabama at Birmingham (B.A 1993)

Admissions

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