Christopher L Peterson, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law of the University of Utah, has taken a leave of absence to become (as of yesterday) an “Enforcement Analyst” at the CFPB. Professor Peterson is best known for his articles, speeches and expert testimony attacking the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS). See, e.g., Foreclosure, Subprime Mortgage Lending and the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, 78 U.Cin.L.Rev. 1359 (2010). 

Professor Peterson has also written several articles that are highly critical of payday lenders. See, e.g., Usury Law, Payday Loans, and Statutory Sleight of Hand: Salience Distortion of American Credit Pricing Limits, 92 Minn.L.Rev. 1110 (2008); Usury Law and the Christian Right, Faith-Based Political Power and the Geography of the American Payday Loan Regulation, co-authored by Steven M. Graves, 57 Cath.U.L.Rev. 637 (2008). He has also written a book entitled “Taming the Sharks: Towards a Cure for the High Cost Credit Market.”

Professor Peterson spoke in Chicago last Friday at the PLI 17th Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute which I co-chaired. On a panel entitled “The New Consumer Perspective,” he gave a preview of a law review article which will be published later this year in the Washington & Lee Law Review, currently titled, “‘Warning: Predatory Lender’ – A Proposal for Candid Local Signage Loan Ordinances.” In the article, Professor Peterson will recommend that cities and other local municipalities enact ordinances requiring payday lenders to prominently disclose “Warning: Predatory Lender” on their signage.

This appointment manifests the Bureau’s willingness to appoint senior staff members who have staked out strong positions on the merits of highly contentious issues the Bureau will be facing. Hopefully, Professor Peterson will take seriously the importance of treating all parties fairly and will be able to surmount the appearance of partiality exemplified by his appointment.