In 2020, the Consumer Relations Consortium (CRC) launched its inaugural Legal Advisory Board (LAB), an exclusive membership group of outside counsel with expertise in the accounts receivable industry who have each pledged their time and resources to support the mission of the CRC. Throughout the year, the LAB served as a legal resource to the CRC and iA Innovation Council membership and assisted in fulfilling the mission of promoting forward-thinking approaches to the issues raised by regulatory policy and technology innovation in the accounts receivable industry.
Today's spotlight, which showcases LAB members in their own words, highlights John Bedard of the Bedard Law Group.
What inspired you to become a lawyer?
Television in the in the 70's and 80's glamourized the legal profession. As a kid, I was attracted to that depiction of the legal world. When I mentioned a desire to become a lawyer to adults, they foisted upon me huge praise and affirmation in response. Over time, that affirmation developed into a focus on becoming an attorney, not because I really understood what it meant to be an attorney, but because of how adults responded to an impressionable kid who expressed an interest in the legal profession.
Other than the CFPB rules, what is a hot topic in legal/compliance you think industry members should be paying attention to in the next couple of months?
Call baiting! One of the most important skills a debt collector can develop is learning how to detect when a consumer is planting "compliance landmines" for them to step on. Refraining from "taking the bait" is a skill worth learning, not only to allow collectors to earn more from making other more productive calls, but also to save their employers countless hours and dollars defending claims of technical violations. Incorporating a robust call baiting curriculum into a training program will help collectors and their agency employers avoid nefariously intended consumers. If the bait gets shown, get off the phone!
What has been the highlight of your career thus far and why?
I've had a few career highlights. Testifying before Congress on proposed debt collection legislation last year is my most recent career highlight. It was a very eye-opening experience on how government works. There are two things you never want to observe the production of: sausage and the law!
What industry behavior keeps you up at night and why?
Credit reporting— it's not for the faint of heart. Do it right. Do it well. Or, don't do it at all.
If you could give one piece of non-legal advice to the industry, what would it be?
Tell your story—which is full of kindness, help, compassion, truth, and reward when working with consumers.
About John Bedard
John is an AV-rated attorney and nationally recognized authority on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. He serves as counsel to several professional trade associations, including the Georgia Collectors Association. John is a published writer on industry topics and a former member of the Board of Directors of the industry's leading professional trade organization, ACA International, The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. John is recognized by Collection Advisor magazine as one of the nation's top 50 most influential people in the collection industry. He serves as the State of Georgia Compliance Chairperson for ACA International and is a former Chairperson and Program Designation award recipient of ACA International's Members Attorney Program.
John is a nationally recognized speaker and travels the country training collectors and educating industry associations, clients, and vendors who provide products and services to the industry. John is licensed to practice law only in Georgia and Tennessee. John received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Pennsylvania State University and a Juris Doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law. He has spent his entire career serving the credit and collection industries.
About the Consumer Relations Consortium
The Consumer Relations Consortium (CRC) is an organization comprised of more than 60 national companies representing the diverse ecosystem of debt collection including creditors, data/technology providers and compliance-oriented debt collectors that are larger market participants. Established in 2013, CRC is evolving the debt collection paradigm by engaging stakeholders—including consumer advocates, Federal and State regulators, academic and industry thought leaders, creditors and debt collectors—and challenging them to move beyond talking points and focus on fashioning real-world solutions that actually improve the consumer experience. CRC’s collaborative and candid approach is unique in the market. CRC is managed by The iA Institute.
Learn more at www.crconsortium.org.
About the iA Innovation Council
The iA Innovation Council is a collaborative working group of product, tech, strategy, and operations thought leaders who envision the future of collections and map how to get there. Group members meet throughout the year to engage in substantive dialogue and whiteboard sessions with the creative thinkers behind the latest innovations for the industry, the regulators who audit and establish guardrails for new technology, and educators, entrepreneurs and innovators from outside the industry who inspire different thinking.
Learn more at www.iainnovationcouncil.com.