With the opening of its 14th office in New York, Ballard Spahr will expand the firm’s capabilities in representing banks and other financial institutions throughout the United States in a wide range of consumer financial services regulatory matters, litigation, and government investigations, said Alan S. Kaplinsky, Practice Leader of the firm’s 90-attorney Consumer Financial Services Group.

The New York office operates under the name Ballard Spahr Stillman & Friedman. Its 14 litigators represent a variety of clients, including financial services firms and their executives, in a range of high-profile, high-stakes litigation and government and internal corporate investigations. In particular, the New York attorneys have substantial experience defending clients being investigated by the New York Office of Attorney General.

“The firm’s entry into New York is an exciting and natural development for our national consumer financial services practice,” Mr. Kaplinsky said. “Clients have been urging us for years to open a Manhattan office because of the paucity of law firms there that devote significant resources to consumer financial services law, and we are already doing substantial work for clients based in New York.”

He added: “The city is home to many of the nation’s major banking institutions, with whom we already have strong relationships, and the New York Attorney General and Department of Financial Services have been aggressively pursuing enforcement actions against the industry. I’m in the process of being admitted to the New York Bar and I plan on working part-time in our New York office so that I can begin to work closely with my new colleagues, whose litigation prowess will be a tremendous asset.”

Ballard Spahr’s consumer financial services litigators are known for their skill in defending clients in consumer class actions, regulatory proceedings, and other complex litigation. They handle challenges to interest rates, fees, and other contract terms; attacks on compliance with federal and state consumer financial services laws; and allegations that client practices are unfair, deceptive, or abusive. Many of these matters involve residential mortgages.

Mr. Kaplinsky noted that residential mortgage litigation remains near an all-time high—higher than any period since 2007—as foreclosure, investor, and regulatory lawsuits persist. “We expect to handle a large volume of this type of litigation in New York since we have experience in defending these types of lawsuits throughout our geographic footprint,” he said.

A vast number of regulatory changes adopted (and to be adopted) by the Dodd-Frank Act and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will inevitably spur new litigation, Mr. Kaplinsky said. Many rules are expected to take effect in January 2014, including the ability-to-repay/qualified mortgage rules, mortgage servicing rules, and revisions to loan originator compensation rules.

“Our clients face an increasingly complex regulatory environment as a result of the CFPB’s creation nearly two years ago,” Mr. Kaplinsky said. “We are helping them clear a path through the thicket of new rules, and we stand ready to defend them against the lawsuits that will inevitably arise from ambiguities in the law. Our consumer financial services attorneys have extensive experience in helping clients understand and implement rules governing mortgage loans and other credit and financial products. The New York office greatly broadens our platform to provide assistance in this area.”


Related Practices

Consumer Financial Services