More robust financial regulations and consumer protection law may be a hallmark of Barack Obama's presidency, consumer advocacy groups say. The crown jewel of that effort is the Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to the group's spokesman, Ed Mierzwinski, the bureau will reshape the landscape for years to come.

Mr. Mierzwinski described the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created in response to the great recession, as "one of President Obama's crowning achievements."

Not everyone is thrilled with CFPB, Scott Pearson, a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP, said. He called the bureau "a disaster for consumers."

"The bureau is a shining example of a gross overreaction to the credit crisis," Pearson said. "The economy is doing badly and recovery is lagging because of the gross oversteps by the bureau."

"Frequently it is hurting consumers it seeks to protect because it doesn't understand the consequences of its actions," he said. "For example, we've raised the costs of making loans so much, there's a certain sector of the public that is being left out of the lending arena because of the increase in regulatory costs."

Small businesses seeking small loans are being turned away, Pearson said.

"The compliance costs are so high that banks are not making loans in amounts less than $250,000—and those small businesses are what drive our economy," he said. "The politics of this administration have strangled the small business sector."