Banks, credit card companies, and other financial firms are developing ways to avoid the higher legal bills they expect as a result of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's proposal to limit the use of arbitration clauses, an action the financial industry believes will increase the use of class action lawsuits.

The CFPB's arbitration plan is one of the most controversial rule-makings the bureau has proposed. The proposal would cover roughly 50,000 firms across a wide range of industries, leading to a substantial financial impact.

Alan S. Kaplinsky, who leads the Consumer Financial Services group at Ballard Spahr, said companies should consider making changes to current contracts before the final rule comes out.

"If a company is not now using arbitration and is often being hit with meritless class-actions… then they certainly should implement an arbitration program," Kaplinsky said. "Existing arbitration agreements will be grandfathered in under the new rule."