How to Become a Consumer Protection Attorney? When defending clients who contend they weren’t given what they paid for, these attorneys must be tenacious.
Consumer law is the study and practice of defending individuals against unfair commerce, false information, and unethical commercial practices. Finding a few lawyers that specialize in consumer law is an excellent place to start, but it’s only the beginning. The first thing you should do is describe the problem. A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for practicing consumer law, ideally in a field related to the law.
Many federal and state laws in the United States are intended to safeguard customers from dishonest businesses, ensure that customers receive the goods or services they pay for, and penalize deceptive advertisements.
For instance, despite state-to-state variations, so-called “lemon laws” normally provide that anybody who inadvertently buys a damaged automobile or other consumer commodity is entitled to repair or replacement.
These types of laws and rules, which support truthfulness and openness in commerce, are within the legal subfield of consumer protection law.
What Does a Lawyer for Consumer Protection Do?
Consumer protection attorneys frequently file class-action lawsuits against large corporations that have deceived or injured customers, and they occasionally give firms legal counsel on how to comply with regulatory requirements.
These lawyers generally take claims for clients who are consumers on a contingency basis, which means they are only compensated when such lawsuits are won or settled. They typically operate in solo practices or at small law firms to cut operational costs, and they may get direct payment from the defending corporations instead of being paid by their clients.
Consumer protection attorneys in the United States make an average compensation of $117,800, according to LawCrossing, a website for legal careers. This figure is close to the median attorney pay, which was around $128,000 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For people who work for nonprofit organizations, salaries could be lower.
According to Stuart Rossman, the National Consumer Law Center’s director of litigation and a former board co-chair of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, it takes bravery and tenacity to represent individuals who have claims against significant and frequently powerful businesses like banks and insurance companies.
According to Rossman, he files cases against “some of the largest firms in the world,” and contends that such legal action is difficult. He explains, “You have to have a very thick skin. “I consistently lose. Superman’s cape is not always in your favor when you tug on it.”
According to him, consumer protection attorneys must be “pretty darned stubborn,” but the work also offers special benefits, such as “a poignancy and a very special passion that comes from representing people who have no one else to represent them and are dealing with fundamental necessities of life,” he says.
The ability of a law school to produce outstanding consumer protection attorneys
Because not all law schools do, students who are interested in this subject should search for those that do. According to experts, it’s also advantageous if the school includes a consumer-related legal clinic, such as a landlord-tenant or housing law clinic, where students may practice resolving client issues.
According to Daniel Wilf-Townsend, an associate professor of law at Georgetown University in the District of Columbia, “look on the faculty to see if there are academics there who undertake study in these areas, as they may be wonderful individuals to talk about consumer protection with.”
The Process for Becoming a Consumer Protection Lawyer
If you wish to practice consumer protection law, you must have a J.D. Following acceptance to law school, experts advise doing the following actions.
Study diligently and enroll in a range of pertinent law school classes.
According to legal experts, consumer protection attorneys can benefit from a variety of legal areas, including banking and finance law. According to professionals, there is no set J.D. curriculum for a prospective consumer protection attorney and a range of law school topics are relevant to this job path.
Wilf-Townsend, whose areas of expertise include civil process, federal courts, and consumer protection legislation, advise enrolling in a course on legal remedies, which discusses the several kinds of reparation that wrongdoers might provide their victims. According to Wilf-Townsend, a course on aggregate litigation, which is the process of aggregating lawsuits from many parties into one, would also be helpful.
A prospective consumer protection attorney should learn about antitrust law, which governs how businesses can compete fairly in the American economy, according to Wilf-Townsend.
Courses in torts, civil process, evidence law, business law, and tax law, according to Rossman, may be beneficial. According to him, a career in consumer law might benefit from classes on how to select a courtroom or which statutes to cite as justification for a lawsuit.
During law school, gain as much real-world experience as you can.
Future consumer protection attorneys can do externships and internships with governmental entities, legal firms, or nonprofit groups that handle consumer protection matters, according to experts, in addition to enrolling in law clinic courses that cover consumer protection concerns.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection are just a few federal agencies that regularly deal with consumer protection issues.
Additionally, consumer protection is often the focus of a department inside state attorneys general offices.
Along with other consumer-focused NGOs and legal firms, the National Consumer Law Center also provides internship opportunities for students.
Join a consumer law professional association or a student group focused on the subject.
Consumer protection law-focused student organizations may invite educational speakers and hold conferences and seminars, according to Rossman. He continues by saying that students can begin joining national organizations for consumer protection attorneys while still in law school.
According to Rossman, the National Consumer Law Center offers new attorneys discounts for national conferences, has specific training programs for recent law school graduates, and offers guides for those considering careers in consumer protection law.
“It is very, very essential,” he adds, “to be able to participate in a bigger community of people who are doing the same thing, to have the mentorship, to have the support (and) to have the resource sharing that takes place.”
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