I am proud to report that Ballard attorneys Peter N. Cubita and Christopher J. Willis have been selected to receive a 2016 Distinguished Legal Writing Award from The Burton Awards, which recognize outstanding legal writing. They are being honored for their article entitled “Auto Finance and Disparate Impact: Substantive Lessons Learned from Class Certification Decisions,” which was published in the May 1, 2015, edition of the Consumer Financial Services Law Report. This article argues that seminal class certification decisions rendered in employment and mortgage discrimination cases undercut the disparate impact theory of liability used to allege “discretionary pricing” rate spread claims against assignees, whether brought as private class actions or as governmental enforcement actions.
Run in association with the Library of Congress and co-sponsored by the American Bar Association, The Burton Awards is a non-profit, academic effort devoted to recognizing and rewarding excellence in the legal profession. Law firm nominations for its Distinguished Legal Writing Awards are submitted annually for articles published during the prior year. The nominated articles are reviewed by an Academic Board that includes law school professors and a former Chair of the White House Plain Language Committee. Only 35 articles are selected each year from nominations submitted by many of the nation’s 1,000 largest law firms.
The 17th annual Burton Awards ceremony will be held at The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on May 23, 2016. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will be the featured speaker, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will memorialize Justice Antonin Scalia during the program.
As becomes readily apparent to those who have the pleasure of working with them, Peter and Chris have a talent for explaining complex subjects in a clear, concise and illuminating manner. It does not surprise me that their article was selected as one of the 35 best articles published by law firm writers last year.
In their article, Peter and Chris discuss the substantive implications that class certification appellate decisions may have for disparate impact retail pricing claims alleged against assignees of motor vehicle retail installment sale contracts. Peter previously received a 2007 Burton Award for Legal Achievement for his Business Lawyer article entitled, “The ECOA Discrimination Proscription and Disparate Impact – Interpreting the Meaning of the Words that Actually Are There.” In that ground-breaking article, Peter discussed the threshold issue of whether disparate impact claims should be cognizable under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Peter’s Business Lawyer article was cited in a November 2015 report, prepared by the Republican Staff of the House Financial Services Committee, entitled “Unsafe at Any Bureaucracy: CFPB Junk Science and Indirect Auto Lending.”