The Hottest Area in Law?
Healthcare is getting a lot of airtime, but what may be overlooked is CFPB work. Alan Kaplinsky, who heads Ballard Spahr's consumer financial services group, says that it can't hire enough good people. (Which leads to exhausted lawyers, which leads to doctor's visits, which leads to more healthcare work...)
The creation of CFPB led the firm to up its presence in DC, Alan says. He was the GC for a consumer finance company before he and four others started a consumer finance group at Ballard Spahr in '95; now the group has more than 100. The date Dodd-Frank was signed into law is "indelibly printed in my brain," Alan says (July 21, 2010, for those not as immersed in this area); he realized that it would create a boom like nothing he'd seen before.
CFPB issues even inspired the firm to create its first blog. Alan's seen booms before: He came up with the idea of using pre-dispute arbitration provisions in consumer contracts, and counseled well over 100 companies on implementing them. He also developed class-action waiver language. (Now the CFPB is studying it and could ban it if it finds that it's not in the public's interest.) Other huge growth areas include the use of e-commerce and smartphone technology for banking services; counseling banks on security breaches (a lot of that growth is in the DC office, where the group's grown from one to seven lawyers over a couple years); and social networking (rules on advertising or collecting debts still exist on social media, which some find out the hard way).
In his spare time, Alan recently became a board member of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, joining others like Ken Burns and Wynton Marsalis. He's been a jazz buff for decades. During undergrad at Penn, he'd drive up to NY on weekends to go to jazz clubs in the Village. (He's a great source for recommendations on clubs or artists.) That early start is how he saw Sonny Rollins perform more than 50 times, along with artists including Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, and John Coltrane.