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OVERVIEW

Perkins Coie has attorneys experienced in advising and defending financial services companies in a range of complex legal disputes and investigations. Our industry knowledge and background, combined with a team of more than 300 litigation attorneys in offices across the country, allow us to provide first-rate litigation defense and counsel to financial services companies.

During the fallout from the economic crisis,  there have been severe business and legal challenges for financial services companies. Efforts to determine responsibility for the market collapse have launched a tidal wave of lawsuits and government investigations.  Plaintiffs and regulators are targeting companies in the financial services market with consumer protection claims, shareholder disputes and government enforcement actions. Our lawyers have the experience and knowledge to represent financial services companies facing these difficult challenges.

Examples of significant, ongoing matters are below.

  • Securities & Corporate Governance Litigation. We represent the outside directors of Washington Mutual Inc. in all of the litigation arising from the collapse of the credit and housing markets in the United States.

The outside directors are defendants in In re Washington Mutual Securities Litigation, In re Washington Mutual Derivative Litigation and In re Washington Mutual ERISA Litigation.

  • Insurance Coverage. We represent the board of directors of one of the largest mortgage lenders with respect to directors' and officers' insurance issues presented by numerous securities fraud and derivative actions relating to the credit crisis being filed against the company and members of its board of directors.
  • Government Investigations. We represent a former officer of Countrywide Financial Corporation in ongoing DOJ and SEC investigations and private civil litigation arising from the collapse of the credit and savings markets in the United States.
  • Consumer Protection & Class Action Litigation. We are national litigation counsel for a mortgage company, defending class action and single plaintiff cases involving alleged predatory lending, violations of consumer protection laws and federal mortgage regulations, including the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

Our Financial Services Litigation & Investigations lawyers include former federal and state prosecutors, seasoned trial lawyers, former DOJ attorneys, a former SEC enforcement branch chief and a former VP for Internal Investigations at a Fortune 50 company, all of whom are experienced in investigating and trying financial and fraud cases. We have represented loan originators, servicers, investors, investment advisors, investment banks and other financial services companies caught in the litigation and government enforcement crosshairs.

The sections below provide more information about our experience in the following areas:

Investigations & White Collar Defense

The recent economic crisis has resulted in unprecedented regulatory scrutiny by state and federal agencies, a trend that is likely to continue and intensify. Attorneys in our Investigations & White Collar Defense group have represented clients in the financial services industry in a broad range of civil and criminal investigations and enforcement matters. These include proceedings before the SEC, the DOJ, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board and various U.S. Attorneys and state agencies on matters relating to compliance with securities laws, fair lending laws, consumer protection, government securities trading, government ethics rules and other matters. Our attorneys also regularly represent companies and board committees in internal investigations and compliance matters.

Our experience in this area includes the following:

  • We are defending former employees of a New York investment firm in connection with a high-profile federal corruption probe related to billions of dollars in public financing of a proposed construction project.
  • We defended one of the country's largest mutual fund investment advisors in state and federal investigation of mutual fund market timing.
  • We are defending directors and officers of two of the country's largest lenders and Fortune 500 companies in connection with SEC and/or DOJ investigation arising from the collapse of the nation's housing and credit markets.
  • We represented a mortgage bank in an enforcement action seeking to revoke its license to conduct a consumer loan business based on alleged violations of state consumer loan laws.

Consumer Protection and Class Action Litigation

Our lawyers have extensive, nationwide experience defending financial institutions and financial services companies in class action litigation involving a wide range of issues. Our Consumer Protection lawyers include former enforcement officials and others who practice before government agencies and organizations regularly. Our nationally recognized class action defense lawyers have represented banks, mortgage banks, and other consumer financial service institutions in putative national classes, and state and multi-state classes. Our practice is national, embracing nearly all 50 states, and we handle a range of consumer finance litigation matters, including claims under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA), the Fair Housing Act (FHA), state unfair and deceptive practices statutes, and the common law, such as fraud, breach of warranty and negligent representation.

Our experience in this area includes the following:

  • We defended a consumer finance company in a statewide class action challenging the collection of reconveyance fees in real estate-related loans.
  • We defended claims against a mortgage bank alleging lending discrimination, violations of consumer protection laws, and failure to comply with the Truth in Lending Act.
  • We defended a mortgage company in a class action alleging violations of consumer protection laws and federal mortgage regulations, including the Truth in Lending Act and RESPA.
  • We defended one of the largest national mortgage banks in a case alleging a pattern or practice of lending discrimination.
  • We represented a national finance company in a license revocation proceeding involving alleged violations of the Truth-in-Lending Act and state disclosure laws.

Securities & Corporate Governance Litigation

Securities cases, particularly class actions, put companies at tremendous risk and are extremely disruptive – even when the company mounts a successful defense. To weather the storm in these "bet-the-company" cases, company management must have complete confidence in the experience and skills of their legal counsel, so they can stay focused on the company’s day-to-day business. Our Securities & Corporate Governance Litigation practice has deep experience in litigating complex, high-stakes cases for securities issuers and their officers and directors, as well as for investment advisors, underwriters and other professional services firms.

Our experience in this area includes the following:

  • We represent the outside directors of Washington Mutual Inc. in all of the litigation arising from the collapse of the credit and housing markets in the United States. The outside directors are defendants in In re Washington Mutual Securities Litigation, In re Washington Mutual Derivative Litigation and In re Washington Mutual ERISA Litigation.
  • We represented Salomon Smith Barney in a Washington state securities lawsuit arising from the purchase of mortgage securities.
  • We are trial counsel for Citigroup in a putative class action involving Citicorp's Capital Accumulation Plan where the plaintiffs allege certain manipulative practices and misrepresentations in connection with their purchase of CAP stock within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998.
  • We were trial counsel for Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and other underwriter defendants in a class action securities case arising out of a $30 million initial public offering of shares in Residential Resources, an investor in collateralized mortgage obligations.

Insurance Coverage

Lawyers at Perkins Coie have extensive experience representing directors and officers and their companies with respect to insurance coverage issues arising out of the economic crisis. For example, we have represented the following:

  • The board of directors of one of the largest mortgage lenders with respect to directors' and officers' insurance issues presented by numerous securities fraud and derivative actions relating to the credit crisis being filed against the company and members of its board of directors;
  • One of the largest mortgage lenders with respect to directors' and officers' insurance and professional liability insurance issues presented by numerous securities fraud, derivative actions and professional liability lawsuits relating to the credit crisis being filed against the company and members of its board of directors;
  • One of the largest mutual fund companies with respect to directors' and officers' insurance and professional liability insurance issues raised by numerous investor arbitrations being instituted against subsidiaries of the company and its officers relating to mortgage-backed securities; and
  • Major financial institutions and other companies impacted by the credit crisis in purchasing directors' and officers' and professional liability insurance in the new insurance environment created by the credit crisis.

Labor & Employment

Our Labor & Employment attorneys counsel some of the largest national financial institutions on a variety of legal issues, including day-to-day employment and human resources issues, internal investigations, strategic planning and advice, commercial and class action litigation. We have counseled clients from across the nation, including Washington Mutual, Safeco, US Bank, Wachovia Securities and other financial institutions. Our experience in this area includes the following:

  • We have conducted highly sensitive internal investigations involving a sweeping variety of subjects, including harassment, whistleblower protection, fraud, discrimination, trade secrets and wage and hour allegations.
  • We have assisted clients with a variety of employment issues, such as hiring and firing, employment contracts and severance agreements, layoffs, employment handbooks and general employment policies.
  • We have counseled and defended clients through government investigations, including Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower investigations, National Labor Relations Board investigations and other government-related investigations.
  • We have defended clients in administrative, state and federal courts on a wide variety of claims, including harassment, discrimination, whistleblower protection, trade secret and wage and hour claims, complex commercial and class action litigation.

E-Discovery Services & Strategy

Financial services industry clients facing high-stakes litigation or regulatory investigations need lawyers and professionals who understand the need for efficient and cost-effective litigation and document management, especially including the discovery and management of electronically stored information (or “ESI”). The Perkins Coie E-Discovery Services & Strategy ("ESS") Group provides comprehensive information and records management, litigation readiness, and electronic discovery services to a wide range of firm clients, including those in the financial services industry. As the firm’s primary e-discovery consulting resource, ESS Group lawyers and professionals provide advice and counseling concerning all aspects of the e-discovery lifecycle, including:

  • Development of comprehensive document retention and records management policies and procedures;
  • Assistance with a full range of litigation readiness endeavors, including document hold policies and procedures, e-discovery service provider evaluation and selection, and proactive data mapping and document collection protocols;
  • Guidance and help with the identification, preservation, collection and processing of both traditional documents and ESI;
  • Development of protocols for the review, analysis and production of traditional documents and ESI including review platform recommendations; and
  • Development of legal strategy and requirements for meet and confer conferences and e-discovery related motion practice.

In addition to providing outstanding client service, the ESS Group’s goal is simple: to provide guidance to clients facing electronic data management and discovery challenges by developing comprehensive and defensible practices and procedures that fulfill legal obligations, minimize risks and control costs.    

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