Richard Cordray fashioned an impressive record of activism and achievement as the first-ever director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, former CFPB staffers, consumer advocates, and even sometime detractors from the legal and the financial services industries say.

But as the political landscape has changed with the presidential election, Cordray may have placed the agency in a precarious position. "He pushed the envelope a little too far," Alan Kaplinsky, a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP, who is a regular critic of the CFPB, told Bloomberg BNA. "That may be his Achilles' heel."

Cordray was appointed in 2012 by President Obama to take the helm of the agency, which was created under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. It was a tough assignment as the agency was created largely along a party-line vote. It faced opposition from the onset by those opposed to the mission of the CFPB, but from across the business- consumer spectrum, he has been credited with building the agency from the get-go.

In the world of financial services regulation over the last few years, the role of the CFPB has been "monumental," Kaplinsky said—and the impact of Cordray "huge," whether for good or ill.

"I think everybody would agree that he practically single-handedly made people pay a great deal of attention to compliance with consumer financial services laws," Kaplinsky said, "and he did it in a rather rapid fashion and covered a multitude of areas. "They've certainly created a lot of work for lawyers."