Consumer protection law focuses on guarding against unfair trade practices that harm buyers in the consumer marketplace. It involves statutes and regulations that seek to prevent businesses from using unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in sales and similar transactions.
Consumer protection law can cover the sale and advertising of goods, services, and consumer financial products like credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages. It encompasses issues like false advertising, scams, predatory lending, unfair debt collection, and foreclosure. As a result, consumer protection issues can be closely intertwined with housing and economic security. Consumer protection can also involve the use of legal tools like bankruptcy to help consumers access relief from the impacts of oppressive consumer debt.
Consumer protection lawyers may spend their careers providing direct representation to consumers (for example at a legal services nonprofit or a small law firm) by using the court system to seek redress for unfair or deceptive business practices or defending against lawsuits brought by banks or debt collectors. They may also work for a state or federal agency that enforces consumer protection laws, or for an organization focusing on policy reform. Consumer protection lawyering often involves litigation (individual or class action), mediation, and engaging in legislative or other policy advocacy to address the unequal bargaining power in consumer-business transactions and to protect consumers at a systemic level.
What to Do If You Are Interested in Consumer Protection Law
Georgetown Law Courses
- Consumer Finance
- Commercial Law: Secured Transactions
- Class Action Law and Practice
Georgetown Law Seminars
- Consumer Debt and Bankruptcy Seminar
- Consumer Protection Law Seminar
- Approaches to Consumer Protection
- The Law of Deception Seminar
Georgetown Law Clinics
- Civil Rights Clinic
- Civil Litigation Clinic
Helpful Consumer Protection Law Resources
- The National Consumer Law Center is a great starting point for getting familiar with consumer law issue areas and policy advocacy going on at the local and federal level. NCLC’s website and reference materials provide comprehensive information and technical support for consumer lawyers.
- The National Association of Consumer Advocates website summarizes some of the major consumer law issue areas and current advocacy efforts.
- The news/press release sections of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission websites are a helpful way to get a sense of federal enforcement actions relating to consumer protection law.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection
- National Consumer Law Center
- D.C. Office of the Attorney General (Office of Consumer Protection)
- Legal Aid of the District of Columbia (Consumer Law Unit)
- Legal Counsel for the Elderly (Consumer Advocacy and Homeowner Preservation Practice)
- Tzedek DC
- Cohen Milstein (Consumer Protection Practice)
- Tycko & Zavareei (Financial Services and Economic Justice class actions)
- Janet Steiger Consumer Protection Fellowship