Younger, Greener Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Offer Industry An Advantage is excited to launch a new series of articles that will help shed light on the issues facing collectors when it comes to complying with laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, as well as defending themselves against complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The series is sponsored by WebRecon, which offers a free report that tracks consumers who are frequent filers of lawsuits. Know who the problem customers are, before they sue you.

Industry lawyers have noticed a trend in recent months; the attorneys on the other side of the table are younger and greener than ever before.

Lawyers representing collection agencies, debt buyers and other industry participants were not able to pinpoint exactly what is causing the trend, except to say that perhaps word of how amenable the industry is to paying settlements is getting around the plaintiffs bar.

A rough analysis of lawsuits filed against collections agencies, based on data provided by WebRecon, reveals that 60% of the firms and lawyers that represented consumers in cases filed in August did not file a similar suit in February. There are any number of reasons why the lawyers did not represent a plaintiff in February, but one possible explanation is that the lawyer was not in the collections business six months ago.

“I’m noticing a lot of names I’ve never heard before,” said Joann Needleman, practice leader law firm ClarkHill and president of the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys. Needleman, who is based in Philadelphia said the City of Brotherly Love has always had a booming personal injury business from plaintiffs lawyers, but now she thinks those attorneys have started doing more collections-related work instead. “I think that the FDCPA and TCPA cases are the new form of personal injury cases.”

The lure of collection agencies that are more willing to settle is attracting a new crop of plaintiffs attorneys to the industry.

“It’s easy money,” said one industry lawyer, who asked not to be named. “There’s a strict liability statute with no wiggle room. If you get 10 files, you can settle on 30%-40% of them using just phone calls and letters.”

The lawyer pointed to one recent adversary, who just started representing collection industry plaintiffs after spending a decade working on matrimonial law. A problem for the industry is that the new crop of lawyers don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of the industry.

When it comes to dealing with inexperienced lawyers, John Bedard of the Bedard Law Group has found it effective to tell them exactly what he’s going to do to defend a case. Listing the series of events and filings has been very “persuasive” on inexperienced lawyers compared to lawyers who know exactly how most attorneys defend collection lawsuits, Bedard admits.

“I like to verbalize my strategy with less experienced lawyers,” Bedard said. “That is usually a moot point with more experienced attorneys.”

Take lawyer Evan Rosen, for example. He is representing a plaintiff in an FDCPA lawsuit that was filed in August. It’s his first collection-related lawsuit of any kind. According to a search, Rosen has filed 27 lawsuits, ranging from issues with securities/commodities to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Or, look Washington lawyer Ryan Pesicka, who lists his practice areas on his website as credit report errors, illegal debt collection practices, residential lease review, compliant hiring consulting, step-parent adoption, divorce, custody and separation and mediation, to name a few. Pesicka has only filed three lawsuits – all in August – related to debt collections.

“I’d rather play Monopoly with someone who’s played the game before,” said the lawyer. “These new kids, they don’t know jack.”

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