Welcome to a new regular feature on AccountsRecovery.net. The collections and debt-buying industries are tight-knit communities, but there is a lot that we do not know about each other. To rectify that, we will be posting profiles of members on a regular basis. If you are interested in being profiled, please contact me via email.
Scott E. Wortman, Esq.
Length of time at current company
Length of time in industry
How did you get your start in the industry?
After graduating from law school and working for Sony, I decided that I wanted to enter the world of litigation with an immediate opportunity for court experience. In looking through my law school’s job posting bulletin, I came upon an advertisement for a litigation law firm specializing in collections. Upon meeting the principals of the firm and with the understanding that I would also have an opportunity to participate in their burgeoning defense litigation practice, I entered the world of credit and accounts receivable management. Instantaneously, I became hooked and developed a true passion for the field and the hardworking people in this crucial but underappreciated industry. Within a few months I was the supervising attorney and a partner soon thereafter.
What is your career highlight so far?
It’s hard to pinpoint one definitive highlight, but so far it’s probably the first few trials that I won; the first time I ever won a motion to dismiss in federal court; and the time I successfully argued a spoliation/sanctions motion against a self-proclaimed consumer attorney and plaintiff that were trying their best to manufacture a case against my client. I am also categorically devoted to advocating for the industry and have a few highlights (that will remain undisclosed) regarding various compliance issues on the state and federal levels.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
This is a very simple answer for me – Mel S. Harris. Notwithstanding what you may have read about Mel or will read about Mel in the future, he is the most authentic, honest and charitable individual in the business. Recently Mel retired from his longstanding practice, but I remain absolutely indebted to him for his giving nature, ingenuity, guidance and commitment to disciplined compliance. Mel has always done what was right – – not because of any regulation or impending legislation, but because his morals always came before money (which he was also quite astute at creating). He’s a business savant and was always a step ahead of everyone else. The industry will undoubtedly miss him.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I’m pretty sure my two kids would say making “pirate” chicken cutlets (let me know if anyone wants the recipe), but from a professional standpoint, I pride myself on an ability to simplify complex issues while strategizing many steps ahead with multiple variables at play.
What do you like most about this industry?
This industry is constantly under scrutiny and the recipient of ad hominem attacks from multiple sources. Yet, the members and trade groups remain resilient and steadfast in their commitment to the industry and what it stands for…, which is autonomy, creativity, honesty and the very essence of upward mobility. So, what do I like most about this industry? Pretty much everything, including the camaraderie and friendship amongst members, including competitors.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
I do understand and empathize with members that make the business decision to resolve a frivolous action for less than defense costs. But every action has a natural reaction and one case should not be looked at in isolation. I am very strong proponent of defending manufactured allegations, whether brought by a consumer attorney or a regulatory body, and the only way to change the distorted perception of the industry is by pushing back. This industry is an integral part of the consumer lending process and should not be taken hostage by fear or the missives of those that subjectively perceive an easy target.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
Very difficult question as it’s always hardest to speculate as to the road not taken. Though since I must answer, I think I probably would have been an entertainment attorney or involved in finance, possibly with a focus on entrepreneurial ventures/startup companies.
Describe a typical work day
As a partner at a New York firm with a global presence, there really is no typical day. Though to provide a brief summary… when litigating, I’m typically in court or at an administrative hearing, conducting a deposition, or working on motion papers. I also spend much of what I would refer to as litigation time strategizing with clients and meeting or negotiating with regulators. Since I’m also involved in transactional work, I spend much of my time developing and implementing strategic plans and performing analysis of business risks and creating processes to solve any legal issues. One of the most important tasks is working with the other partners and assessing progress made by associates on various projects. Likewise, I’m very fortunate to be a part of a firm that values solidarity and professionalism and there are various group meetings at scheduled intervals of the week for departments to map out work priorities and objectives so that time is coordinated and used efficiently. On most evenings, I make it home to spend quality time with my wife and two young kids and will then work remotely on any unfinished business.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I admit to being a complete chocaholic. Correspondingly, my older son is also a chocaholic and innocently asks people “what type of holic are you?”
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
That our mental attitude transforms a situation into either a problem or an opportunity.
What are you currently reading?
“Ubik,” Philip K. Dick
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
Before becoming an attorney, I was a signed musician (very short lived) and even had a track reach the billboard modern rock charts.