Christopher J. Willis

Partner
Atlanta

Christopher J. Willis is the Practice 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 and evaluating 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, Chair of the Fair Access to Services Subcommittee (2018-2020)

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

The Legal 500, finance - financial services regulation, 2021

Presenter at numerous in-house seminars for clients, including UDAAP/UDAP Principles and their Application, Reasonable Investigations Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Regulatory and Litigation Trends Affecting the Consumer Financial Services Industry, and Protecting the Attorney-Client Privilege.

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:

Panelist, “On the Radar for CFPB Supervision,” Consumer Bankers Association CBA Live Conference, August 17, 2021

Panelist, “Under New Management: CFPB and Debt Collection,” Consumer Bankers Association CBA Live Conference, August 16, 2021

Panelist, “UDAAP and Fair Lending,” Student Borrower Protection Center Virtual Conference, June 28, 2021

Board Memberships & Community Service

Zoo Atlanta, Board of Directors, Member, Facilities Committee

Publications

Co-author, Chapter on Fair Lending in the American Bar Association’s Consumer Finance Law, 2021

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

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