During the last week of October, more than 750 lawyers from around the U.S., including 92 from Washington, attended the annual Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, jointly sponsored by the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the National Consumer Law Center and held at the Seattle Westin Hotel.
The four-day conference featured prominent speakers, including Neil Barofsky, former TARP director and author of Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street; Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Who Stole the American Dream? The conference also included CLE seminars and concluded with a one-day class action symposium.
Local Northwest Justice Project attorney Bruce Neas was awarded the Outstanding Consumer Advocate award for his legislative advocacy in amending Washington foreclosure laws to protect homeowners. Seattle attorney David Leen was awarded the Vern Countryman Award for Excellence in representing low-income consumers.
The group consists of lawyers who only represent consumers facing foreclosure, purchasers of defective goods, and persons with debt problems or who are dealing with collection agency harassment and related issues. Information about membership can be obtained at NACA.net.
The real highlight of the conference was the EMP reception and rock concert put on by the ad hoc Mandatory Agitation Band, with guest keyboard superstar Mike Withey and vocalist standout and Wallingford bankruptcy attorney Sten Sorby. Elizabeth Cabraser of San Francisco played Grammy-caliber percussion. Disputes about copyright infringement, breach of numerous oral and written (on napkins) contracts, union disputes, artistic license and distribution rights may delay the release of the live concert video.
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On November 2, the Legal Foundation of Washington tentatively approved a grant of $1.3 million to the Northwest Consumer Law Center to provide foreclosure relief to Washington low- and moderate-income homeowners over the next 24 months. This money was allocated in the nationwide Attorney General Mortgage Settlement with the five largest banks, and granted to the LFW for administration along with another $12 million for other grantees such as Columbia Legal Services, Northwest Justice Project and the clinical programs at the Seattle University and Gonzaga law schools.
Information about the Northwest Consumer Law Center may be found at www.NWCLC.org.
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