Consumer law

Wilmar-and-Alba-Funes

Our Consumer Law Unit helps clients protect their limited income and assets. We specialize in two principal areas of practice: foreclosure prevention and consumer debt collection defense. In both areas, our court-based projects put our attorneys in the courtrooms (both physical and remote) where the D.C. Superior Court hears these cases. 

In our foreclosure prevention practice, we help clients with short and long-term options for keeping their homes, including loan modifications that change the terms of a mortgage to make it easier to pay. Our attorneys are in the courtroom for initial hearings in judicial foreclosure cases to provide same-day legal information, referrals, and representation to low-income homeowners at risk of losing their homes. We also work to protect clients from abusive and illegal practices of mortgage servicers. 

In our debt collection practice, we protect clients from abusive, unfair, and unlawful debt collection practices and from judgments or unfavorable settlements that can have a devastating impact on people living in poverty. We represent defendants in cases involving all forms of consumer debt, for example, from credit cards, loans, and medical services. Our attorneys are in the courtroom for hearings in cases on the Superior Court’s Debt Collection calendars to provide same-day legal services to clients. In cooperation with partner organizations, we also staff a Debt Collection Defense Hotline that consumers can call to obtain information and request representation. 

The court’s Debt Collection calendar also includes cases brought by insurance companies against the drivers or owners of motor vehicles involved in an accident with a person the company insured. We help clients identify potential insurance coverage, evaluate potential defenses, and, when appropriate, find ways to resolve the case on favorable terms. 

In another practice area, we counsel clients who have “structured settlements” – long-term annuities obtained in settlements of personal injury and wrongful death cases. Our clients generally come to us after they have agreed to abusive deals with a “factoring” company to purchase their future annuity payments. We help clients evaluate these deals and may assist them in obtaining more favorable terms. 

Our newest consumer practice area is bankruptcy. We assist clients in evaluating whether bankruptcy is the right option for their situation and in exploring alternatives to bankruptcy. For those who decide to proceed, we help clients file Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases in the federal bankruptcy court. 

Finally, our consumer unit attorneys also engage in systemic advocacy to reform debt collections practice in the District of Columbia, to defend and enforce homeowner protections provided by D.C. law, and to advocate for legislative and regulatory improvements to D.C. and federal consumer laws. We also regularly engage with Superior Court committees and working groups in support of access to justice enhancements to local court rules, procedures, and court information provided to unrepresented litigants.