Antitrust and Consumer Law Annual Report 2013-2014
The Antitrust and Consumer Law Section has enjoyed another successful year of providing our members, the Bar and the general public with timely and interesting programs and activities at minimal cost.
We are pleased to have been selected as Section of the Year, and to be recognized at the Bar’s Celebration of Leadership Dinner in June 2014. We view that recognition as a challenge as well to continue our efforts to serve our section’s members, the Bar, and the community where we live and work.
We have continued the initiative, launched in the previous fiscal year by co-chair Tracy Rezvani, to expand the section’s role as commenter and advocate on issues of public importance. As with the section’s previous engagement with the D.C. Council on legislation to strengthen the Consumer Protection Procedures Act, this year the section submitted a written statement, drafted by steering committee member Dan Ducore, commenting publicly on problematic real estate tax lien foreclosure practices and supporting legislation to reform the process. Steering committee member Wendy Weinberg has continued stepping up the section’s community outreach efforts.
We have continued our efforts to partner with related organizations, including bar organizations (the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, the D.C. Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Iranian-American Bar Association, and the American Bar Association), local educational institutions (George Washington University School of Law), as well as regional and national consumer groups (AT HOME – the Alliance to Help Owners Maintain Equity, DCConsumerRightsCoalition.org, and the American Antitrust Institute). Our section is involved in the Bar’s yearly Youth Law Fair, and the section once again made a financial donation to the Bar’s pro bono efforts. We are very proud of our outreach on all fronts, and plan to continue to commit further time and resources to these efforts.
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Our year began with a live webinar in July, entitled “Beyond the Consumer Protection Procedures Act: Little Used Consumer Statutes.” Through a live session, later re-broadcast through the webinar platform, the panelists discussed D.C. auto lemon law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, the Consumer Credit Protection Act, the D.C. Telephone Fraud Act and the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
In August 2013, the section presented the program “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Enforcement Priorities.” CFPB Deputy Enforcement Director Hunter Wiggins discussed the CFPB’s enforcement priorities investigating and enforcing federal consumer financial laws in administrative adjudications and federal courts.
In September, the section presented a sports-antitrust program entitled, “Fair Play? Competition in Sports Broadcasting and the Local Sports Fan.” Our panelists, who included seasoned antitrust and communications law practitioners, discussed the legal and economic issues involved with the growth of regional sports networks, such as MASN or Comcast Mid-Atlantic, in broadcasting.
Our November program event was an “Interview with Susan Crawford on Telecom Competition and her Book ‘Captive Audience,’” co-sponsored by the American Antitrust Institute. Susan Crawford is a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a co-director of the Berkman Center, and a contributor to Bloomberg View and Wired. At a panel with AAI’s Bert Foer, the section’s Don Resnikoff and Allen Grunes from AAI and GeyerGorey LLP, Ms. Crawford discussed market power in the telecom industry and the limited choices that consumers face when choosing internet service and cable.
In November 2013 we also held a steering committee welcoming and networking reception, held at the offices of steering committee member Robert Hauberg’s law firm, Baker Donelson. The welcoming speakers were co-chairs Tracy Rezvani and George Slover. New steering committee member Heather Latino spoke about the section’s work advocating for reforms to the District’s tax lien system. New and current committee members also met with non-committee members to encourage them to get involved in section activities.
In December, the section held a brown bag session, “Complying with Antitrust Enforcement Orders, Decrees and Agreements - DOJ, FTC and Practitioner Views,” held at the offices of steering committee member Robert Hauberg’s law firm, Baker Donelson. The program focused on federal merger (and some non-merger) enforcement and relief, with a panel that included senior officials from the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, as well as an experienced private practitioner.
In February 2014, the section hosted a catered program titled, “Consumer Privacy, Data Security, and Cyber Liability.” Panelists discussed consumer privacy concepts, case law and regulation in the electronic data age and outlined the problems posed by consumer data collection activities of data brokers.
In June 2014, the section hosted a lunch hour program titled, “The Changing Legal Landscape of Foreclosures in the District of Columbia.” Representatives from the District’s Legal Aid Society, the Department of Securities, Insurance and Banking, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explained recent and pending developments that strengthen the substantive and procedural rights of homeowners who may be in default on their residential mortgages.
Other programs that the section co-sponsored included: “Recent Developments in Administrative Law,” “The Whistleblower Protection Enhancements Act,” “Legends of the D.C. Bar: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg,” “Modifications to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act,” and “Supreme Court Update: Employment Class and Collective Actions,” as well as other programs regarding practical legal practice topics of interest to section members.
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The section submitted a formal statement to the Council of the District of Columbia on March 3, 2014, stating the section’s support for pending bill B20-0023, the “Residential Real Property Equity and Transparency Act of 2013.” Our March statement was a follow-up to a statement we filed in 2012, and continued to urge the Council to make improvements in the procedures for tax sales on residential real estate. The March statement supported the bill’s proposals to improve notice, increase opportunities to resolve delinquencies before the lien sale, and limit the fees that private purchasers of liens can impose on homeowners. The statement also recommended that the Council add a provision to protect a homeowner against losing the remaining home equity in a windfall to the lien purchaser. The Council’s bill remains pending, and the section remains available to provide further views and assistance.
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Community Outreach/Pro Bono
Our section’s commitment to community outreach and pro bono efforts continues to be strong. The section again participated in the Youth Law Fair, held on Saturday, March 22, 2014, at the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse in Washington, D.C. This year’s theme was “Stand Tall Against K2 & Alcohol” focusing on underage drinking, use of K2 (a synthetic marijuana) and the related legal implications for youth. This free, full-day educational event at the D.C. Superior Court brought students, lawyers, judges and educators together to explore issues facing students in the D.C. area. Students had the opportunity to enjoy exhibits, courthouse tours led by Superior Court Judges, "speak-out" sessions, and a mock trial fact pattern facilitated in multiple courtrooms.
The overall goals of the Youth Law Fair are to:
• Teach D.C. area youth about their rights and responsibilities and the justice system.
• Encourage D.C. area youth to form and voice opinions about important legal and social issues.
• Empower, through role models, D.C. area youth to believe that they are capable of pursuing legal careers.
We plan to participate again in the coming year.
In June 2014, the section donated $2,000 to the D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono Program, to continue supporting pro bono work.
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The section has a dual mission of serving practitioners in the fields of antitrust and competition law, as well as those practicing in the areas of consumer protection and trade regulation law.
The section steering committee is proud of the fact that our newsletters continue to be a resource for generating new members while keeping current members informed of Section activities and upcoming programs.
The section once again updated both the Antitrust and Consumer Protection chapters of the D.C. Practice Manual. Our thanks go to steering committee members Don Resnikoff, Tracy Rezvani, Heather Latino, and Carrie Anderson for their work on the chapters, as well as George Slover, Robert Hauberg and Wendy Weinberg.
Finally, Don Resnikoff has reached the end of his second consecutive term on the steering committee. Don will continue to participate informally on section activities. We sincerely thank him for his leadership, including serving as co-chair of the section on several separate occasions, and we look forward to continuing to work with him in any way he would like.
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The section continues to be fiscally responsible and in the black. We endeavor to maintain financial stability while continuing to provide valuable programs for our members at no or minimal additional cost, as well as making donations to worthwhile organizations. This will become a greater challenge now that, as a result of a budgeting change narrowly approved by the Sections Council, which our section did not support, section dues are no longer available to help fund section program activities.
Co-Chairs of the Antitrust and Consumer Law Section
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