Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New Student Loan Servicing Guidelines Mandated by CFPB

As of 2015, one in seven student loan borrowers — or about 14 percent — defaulted on their student loans within three years of starting the repayment period after college was reported by the Chicago Tribune.
As the student loan debt seems to have ballooned out of control from 600 billion in 2006 to $1.2 trillion in 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has recently reported widespread servicing failures on both the federal and private student loan borrowers.  As the CFPB noted, loan service providers play a vital role in providing borrowers key information about payments and account information. Millions of student borrowers reported to the CFPB the illegal servicing practices employed and the failure to provide the most basic level of services necessary to meet borrower's needs. 

Much of this comes as no surprise to most.  So, will the CFPB take action?  If so, will it be enough?  First, to make the loan process more simplified, the Department of Education in Fall 2016 will open registration three months earlier to allow parents and students to have a true cost of attending college while still in high school. In Sept 2015, the CFPB released the Joint Statement of Principles on Student Loan Servicing, which outlined new guidelines and recommendations that all loan service providers must abide. These recommendations were formed to create consistency, to hold service providers accountable and to help borrowers be more informed about their debt obligations.  At the heart if the Joint Statement is information transparency regarding payment terms that consumers have come to expect under other regulations subject to the Consumer Credit Protection Act.  Transparency has come along way in terms of disclosure with credit cards, for instance.

Improving disclosure in an understandable and meaningful way is not to be understated.  It is one vital step by the CFPB in its advocating for student borrowers, all of whom can be affected by unfair servicing practice and which will now be curtailed.

- JSM and Leighton Regis 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Debit Card Overdraft Problems Not Solved?

When the 2010 Amendments to Regulation E to the Electronic Funds Transfer Act mandated an opt-in  regime for bank overdraft programs for debit cards, the fix seemed a good solution.  See, Jennifer Martin, How Your $4 Coffee Can Cost You $39 or More if You Use Your Debit Card! Federal Level Consumer Protection and Modern Payments Transactions, Memphis L. Rev. (2009).  A July 2014 Study of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests that the fix may not have worked.  The study found that consumers are still incurring overdraft charges in large numbers and on transactions of $24 or less.  Approximately twenty percent (20%) of those consumers who do opt-in are incurring more than ten annual overdrafts.  The CFPB is looking at new regulation on debit overdrafts.  It would seem that at the least revisions to the model form for such services is likely.  Perhaps a cap on fees might also be warranted on debit overdrafts.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sales - Survey of 2014 Cases

My annual survey of noteworthy sales cases arising under Article 2 during 2014 is now available on SSRN , 71 Bus. Law. (forthcoming Aug. 2015).  There is the usual cadre of good formation cases, such as Grandoe Corp. v. Gander Mountain Co. (formation under section 2-204 based on oral agreement where buyer had its terms and conditions posted on its web site) and Nebraska Machinery Co. v. Cargotec Solutions, LLC (formation under sections 2-206 and 2-207 based upon conduct of delivery, payment and use of engines.  There were also a number of good remedies cases in 2014.  In particular, the case of Peace River Seed Co-Operative, Ltd. v. Proceeds Marketing, Inc. took up the difficult issue of a seller which wants to claim a market-based remedy under 2-708 after a favorable resale.  While the Code is not clear on these types of resales, this case is wrong, as it fails to give full effect to the policy of limited compensation under the Code and the doctrine of mitigation. 


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

National Association of Women Lawyers 2015 Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition

NAWL has just finalized the announcement for the 2015 Selma Moidel student writing contest. I would like to encourage submission of papers by any law students who may be writing on-topic papers that discuss issues related to women.  The Announcement:
The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)® is a national voluntary legal professional organization whose mission is the advancement of women in the legal profession and women’s rights. Since 1899, NAWL has served as an educational forum and active voice for the concerns of women lawyers in this country and abroad.  NAWL continues to support and advance the interests of women in and under the law, and in so doing, supports and advances the social, political, and professional empowerment of women. Through its programs and networks, NAWL provides the tools for women in the profession to advance, prosper, and enrich the profession.  NAWL has established the annual Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition to encourage and reward original law student writing on issues concerning women and the law. The rules for the competition are as follows:
Entrants should submit a paper on an issue concerning women’s rights or the status of women in the law.   The most recent winning paper was “The Decriminalization of Rape on America’s College Campuses: How Federal Sex Discrimination Policy Has Diminished the Role of the Criminal Justice System in Combatting Sexual Violence” written by Danielle Elizabeth DeBold, New York University School of Law.  Please view paper at  http://www.nawl.org/p/cm/ld/fid=83.
Essays will be accepted from students enrolled at any law school during the 2014-15 school year. The essays must be the law student author’s own work and must not have been submitted for publication elsewhere.  Papers written by students for coursework or independent study during the summer, fall, or spring semesters are eligible for submission.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, students may incorporate professorial feedback as part of a course requirement or supervised writing project.
FORMAT:  Essays must be double-spaced in 12-point, Times New Roman font. All margins must be  one inch. Entries must not exceed fifteen (15) pages of text, excluding notes, with footnotes placed as endnotes. Citation style should conform to The Bluebook – A Uniform System of Citation. Essays longer than 15 pages of text, excluding notes, or which are not in the required format may not be read.
JUDGING:  NAWL Women Lawyers Journal® designees will judge the competition. Essays will be judged based upon content, exhaustiveness of research, originality, writing style, and timeliness.
QUESTIONS:  Questions regarding this competition should be addressed to the chair of the Writing Competition, Professor Jennifer Martin at jmartin@stu.edu.
SUBMISSION AND DEADLINE:  Entries must be received by May 1, 2015. Entries received after the deadline will be considered only at the discretion of NAWL. Entries must provide a cover letter providing the title of your essay, school affiliation, email address, phone number, and mailing address.  Entries must be submitted in the following format: email an electronic version (in Microsoft Word) to jmartin@stu.edu.
AWARD:  The author of the winning essay will receive a cash prize of $500. NAWL will also publish the winning essay in the NAWL Women Lawyers Journal.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

10th Annual Contracts Conference Soon - Get Your Paper Proposals In

Call for Participation and Proposals

10th International Conference on Contracts (KCON 10)

William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV

Las Vegas, Nevada February 27 & 28, 2015

 UNLV's William S. Boyd School of Law is pleased to again host the International Conference on Contracts -- a two-day conference designed to afford contracts scholars and teachers at all experience levels (including those preparing to enter the academy and those whose primary teaching appointment is not in a law school) an opportunity to present/demonstrate and discuss (formally and informally) recently-published and accepted-but-not-yet-published scholarship, works-in-progress, thought experiments, as-yet-fully-formed ideas for scholarship, and pedagogical innovations, and to network with colleagues -- and potential collaborators or mentors -- from around the country and other parts of the world.

Invitation: We invite paper, presentation, and panel proposals exploring any aspect of contract law, theory, and policy writ large (including, but not limited to, bankruptcy/insolvency, commercial law, consumer law, dispute resolution regimes, employment law, family law, insurance law, legal systems, and restitution, in addition to more traditional contract topics) from a behavioral, comparative, critical, doctrinal, economic, empirical, equitable, historical, institutional, interdisciplinary, jurisprudential, pedagogical, philosophical, policy-driven, or political perspective.  We also solicit volunteers to serve as moderators or discussants for panels that are not "packaged deals."

The CFPs issued earlier this year for the AALS Section on Contracts' and Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law's January annual meeting programs each yielded more excellent proposals than either section can accommodate in Washington.  There are also issues of weather, timing, politics, and expense that may keep some away from the AALS annual meeting.  We strongly encourage those who submitted papers or proposals to either section -- successfully or unsuccessfully -- to submit to us.  KCON 10's attendance will almost certainly exceed that of any single session at AALS and, although there will be some overlap in the audience, there will also be plenty of fresh eyes and ears in February in Las Vegas.

I intend to organize a panel in memory of our dear friend and colleague Jean Braucher and another to discuss Omri Ben-Shahar & Carl Schneider's recent book, More Than You Wanted to Know: The Failure of Mandated Disclosure.  A couple of other panel ideas are already brewing.  Those efforts, even if all bear fruit, still leave room for many more presenters, moderators, and discussants.

We will try to accommodate as many presenters, moderators, and discussants as possible.  We particularly encourage junior scholars and those who work in non-U.S. legal systems to propose papers or panels and to volunteer to serve as a discussant or moderator.  We also welcome anyone who wishes to attend the conference without presenting or serving as a discussant or moderator.  The educational and networking benefits alone are worth the price of admission.

Publication: There is no publication requirement for conference participants, although experience suggests that individual papers and panels often find good homes.  The Nevada Law Journal encourages participants to submit individual and panel papers and hopes to publish several works from the conference in upcoming issues.

Submitting a Proposal: If you would like to propose a presentation or panel, please e-mail a title, brief description, and any supporting materials by January 23, 2015 to keith.rowley@unlv.edu or snail-mail it to me at the address below; if you would like to discuss or moderate, please let me know your interests and availability by January 23.  We will evaluate proposals as they come in and will consider on a space-available basis any we receive after January 23.

Preliminary Schedule: The conference program will begin both Friday and Saturday morning no later than 9:00 a.m. (grazing and conversational opportunities will start earlier) and will run until 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. each day.

Accommodations: Bluegreen Club 36 near campus (372 E. Tropicana Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89169) is holding a block of rooms for Thursday 2/26 through Saturday 2/28 nights at a rate of $92.00 per night (plus tax) for a deluxe suite or $82.00 per night (plus tax) for a standard suite.  To book a conference-rate suite at Bluegreen Club 36, please call (800) 456-0009 and tell the reservations agent that you are with the UNLV Law School contracts conference.  The deadline for hotel registration at the conference rate is February 4, 2015.  However, I encourage you to book sooner, as we blocked a limited number of rooms and will be better able to get the hotel to make the conference rate available to additional attendees if early registration is robust.

For those who prefer to stay on the Las Vegas Strip, we have also secured a smaller block of rooms at the Luxor (3900 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89119) for Thursday 2/26 through Saturday 2/28 nights for Tower Deluxe rooms (one king bed or two queen beds) at a rate of $40.00 per night (plus tax & $18/night resort fee) for Thursday 2/26, $89.00 per night (plus tax & $18/night resort fee) for Friday 2/27, and $99.00 per night (plus tax & $18/night resort fee) for Friday 2/27.  The Luxor is considerably farther from campus than Bluegreen Club 36, and traffic on and around the Las Vegas Strip can be heavy at times; however, this is an excellent rate that appears to be available for earlier check-in for attendees looking to spend an extra night or two in Las Vegas.  To book a conference-rate room at the Luxor, go to https://aws.passkey.com/event/13031521/owner/4939/home.  The deadline for the conference rate at the Luxor is January 29, 2015.  Again, I encourage you to book sooner, as we blocked a smaller number of rooms there and will be better able to get the Luxor to make the conference rate available to additional attendees if the block fills up quickly.  

Transportation: We'll provide transportation between Bluegreen Club 36 and the law school (as well as Friday's dinner venue, if it is off-campus).  If enough attendees book rooms at the Luxor, we will arrange shuttle service to and from there as well.  Attendees who prefer to stay elsewhere are responsible for their own transportation.

Sustenance: Your registration fee will cover the costs of lunches both days and a reception and dinner Friday evening, as well as coffee, fruit, and baked goods each morning and cold beverage service and morsels each afternoon.

Registration: We're still finalizing the conference registration fee and process.  The registration fee will be no more than $250, which will include Friday evening's conference dinner, at which we will recognize this year's career achievement award recipient.  Additional tickets to Friday's dinner will be available for guests who are not registered for the conference.