CLE Program

Fee-Shifting in Debt Collection Actions


Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Runtime: 4:00h

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Representing Consumers in the Biggest Part of the Civil Docket

Debt collection matters make up approximately half of all cases in the district and municipal courts in Massachusetts. In 2015, a study showed that nine debt buying entities filed more than 40 percent of all civil cases in the state. Many debt collection cases brought against consumers present an opportunity to raise counterclaims for violations of federal and state fair debt collection law. In this training, practitioners with experience in bringing these counterclaims will:

  • Outline law under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, M.G.L. c. 93A, and state debt collection regulations about counterclaims in debt collection actions
  • Explain fee arrangements in consumer debt collection cases that allow attorneys to represent clients on a fee shifting basis while ensuring they will be fairly compensated
  • Demonstrate methods for finding cases and establishing referral pipelines in an area where up to 98 percent of consumers are unrepresented, including collaboration with Lawyers for Affordable Justice, one of Massachusetts' legal incubators
  • Show how entities such as the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission, the National Center for State Courts, and the Conference of Chief Justices have recognized the need for more lawyers to represent consumers in debt collection matters in order to solve a pressing access to justice need


Matthew Brooks, Esq., Program Co-chair
Greater Boston Legal Services, Boston
Damian J. Turco, Esq., Program Co-chair
Turco Legal PC, Newburyport & Lawyers for Affordable Justice, Inc., Boston
Joel Feldman, Esq., Panelist
Heisler, Feldman & McCormick, Springfield
April Kuehnhoff, Esq., Panelist
National Consumer Law Center, Boston
Elizabeth A. Miller, Panelist
Attorney at Law, Boston
Stephen A. Smith, Esq., Panelist
Law Office of Stephen A. Smith, Millis

Sponsoring Sections:

Access to Justice Section
Young Lawyers Division

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