Consumer Regulatory and State Attorneys General


In today’s intensive regulatory environment where businesses across all industries are subject to heightened governmental regulations and enforcement actions, clients turn to Sidley’s consumer regulatory lawyers to ensure compliance with the requirements, get ahead of potential issues and receive valuable insights on prospective developments that could affect their industries years from now. Our team is well versed and extensively experienced at providing clients with practical and granular recommendations on how to minimize their risk of becoming subject to agency inquiry.

When our clients are engaged in regulatory disputes, we help resolve conflicts quickly, mitigating exposure to, and liability from, litigation. Our team advises on matters involving advertising, marketing, credit practices, privacy and other regulatory issues—in both traditional and e-commerce realms. Our clients include world-renowned brands from numerous areas of business. We regularly represent companies before state and federal agencies and departments, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and all 50 state attorneys general. 

We bring value to our clients in the following ways:

  • Pioneering state attorneys general practice: We are recognized as leaders in this area of law. Our team features lawyers who have decades of experience in this legal arena and who have worked as assistant attorneys general. We harness that rare insider’s perspective and experience in our cases as defense counsel, representing clients in state attorneys general investigations, administrative proceedings and litigation, as well as helping them develop working relationships with state regulators. The team has extensive experience in multistate enforcement actions, and, on numerous occasions, has successfully negotiated and resolved multistate enforcement initiatives.
  • Deep experience with the FTC and CFPB: Our lawyers have handled dozens of CFPB and FTC investigations and enforcement actions, defending businesses in response to inquiries such as highly sensitive civil investigative demands. We are known for our leadership in resolving such matters amicably whenever possible. Where litigation is necessary, our lawyers effectively pursue a strong defense for our clients. We have advised clients in numerous industries, including financial services, consulting, travel and leisure and transportation, in investigating and responding to data breaches and information security incidents. These representations have included interaction and advocacy before the FTC and tend to be confidential unless litigation is filed, a public settlement is announced, or data breach notice obligations are triggered. Members of our team have served as defense counsel on some of the highest-profile FTC cases, and our team features a former FTC commissioner and general counsel. Our group also possesses wide-ranging knowledge of federal and state consumer financial laws. A lawyer on our team is a former enforcement attorney at the CFPB and was with that agency at its inception.
  • Expansive knowledge across the issues: With our depth of experience at the state and federal levels, our team can handle almost any consumer protection and related regulatory matter. We are adept in all areas of marketing and advertising clearance and compliance. Our team helps mass media clients navigate the regulatory issues that shape the development of their creative campaigns, including online sales, sweepstakes and social media promotions, email marketing and television, radio, telemarketing and direct-mail offers. We remain current on the ever-changing consumer regulatory landscape, including on such hot-button issues as privacy and behavioral marketing. The team represents clients in regulatory rulemaking and legislative arenas and has assisted in drafting comments to the FTC and Federal Communications Commission concerning such matters as negative option marketing, endorsements, .com disclosures, the Telemarketing Consumer Protection Act, credit practices and related consumer financial laws
  • Relationships with the enforcers: Members of our team have strong relationships with the FTC’s staff, bureau directors, commissioners and chairwoman, as well as with enforcement staff at the CFPB. Lawyers at Sidley previously served at both agencies, affording us uncommon insight into how and why they pursue enforcement. We also draw from an extensive network of relationships we have with state attorneys general offices nationally. Our contacts run deep with the attorney generals themselves, as well as with virtually every head of their consumer protection divisions.

Our first-hand knowledge and experience in the complex consumer regulatory arena enable us to work with our clients to develop best practices for compliance. When a client comes to us facing an investigation or inquiry from the government, we can help by developing a strategic approach to resolve the matter efficiently and effectively. We also can assist clients adversely affected by competitors engaged in illegal practices in these areas by devising cost-effective steps to ensure such practices are brought to the attention of the appropriate enforcement entities.

In today’s intensive regulatory environment where businesses across all industries are subject to heightened governmental regulations and enforcement actions, clients turn to Sidley’s consumer regulatory lawyers to ensure compliance with the requirements, get ahead of potential issues and receive valuable insights on prospective developments that could affect their industries years from now. Our team is well versed and extensively experienced at providing clients with practical and granular recommendations on how to minimize their risk of becoming subject to agency inquiry.

When our clients are engaged in regulatory disputes, we help resolve conflicts quickly, mitigating exposure to, and liability from, litigation. Our team advises on matters involving advertising, marketing, credit practices, privacy and other regulatory issues—in both traditional and e-commerce realms. Our clients include world-renowned brands from numerous areas of business. We regularly represent companies before state and federal agencies and departments, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and all 50 state attorneys general. 

We bring value to our clients in the following ways:

  • Pioneering state attorneys general practice: We are recognized as leaders in this area of law. Our team features lawyers who have decades of experience in this legal arena and who have worked as assistant attorneys general. We harness that rare insider’s perspective and experience in our cases as defense counsel, representing clients in state attorneys general investigations, administrative proceedings and litigation, as well as helping them develop working relationships with state regulators. The team has extensive experience in multistate enforcement actions, and, on numerous occasions, has successfully negotiated and resolved multistate enforcement initiatives.
  • Deep experience with the FTC and CFPB: Our lawyers have handled dozens of CFPB and FTC investigations and enforcement actions, defending businesses in response to inquiries such as highly sensitive civil investigative demands. We are known for our leadership in resolving such matters amicably whenever possible. Where litigation is necessary, our lawyers effectively pursue a strong defense for our clients. We have advised clients in numerous industries, including financial services, consulting, travel and leisure and transportation, in investigating and responding to data breaches and information security incidents. These representations have included interaction and advocacy before the FTC and tend to be confidential unless litigation is filed, a public settlement is announced, or data breach notice obligations are triggered. Members of our team have served as defense counsel on some of the highest-profile FTC cases, and our team features a former FTC commissioner and general counsel. Our group also possesses wide-ranging knowledge of federal and state consumer financial laws. A lawyer on our team is a former enforcement attorney at the CFPB and was with that agency at its inception.
  • Expansive knowledge across the issues: With our depth of experience at the state and federal levels, our team can handle almost any consumer protection and related regulatory matter. We are adept in all areas of marketing and advertising clearance and compliance. Our team helps mass media clients navigate the regulatory issues that shape the development of their creative campaigns, including online sales, sweepstakes and social media promotions, email marketing and television, radio, telemarketing and direct-mail offers. We remain current on the ever-changing consumer regulatory landscape, including on such hot-button issues as privacy and behavioral marketing. The team represents clients in regulatory rulemaking and legislative arenas and has assisted in drafting comments to the FTC and Federal Communications Commission concerning such matters as negative option marketing, endorsements, .com disclosures, the Telemarketing Consumer Protection Act, credit practices and related consumer financial laws
  • Relationships with the enforcers: Members of our team have strong relationships with the FTC’s staff, bureau directors, commissioners and chairwoman, as well as with enforcement staff at the CFPB. Lawyers at Sidley previously served at both agencies, affording us uncommon insight into how and why they pursue enforcement. We also draw from an extensive network of relationships we have with state attorneys general offices nationally. Our contacts run deep with the attorney generals themselves, as well as with virtually every head of their consumer protection divisions.

Our first-hand knowledge and experience in the complex consumer regulatory arena enable us to work with our clients to develop best practices for compliance. When a client comes to us facing an investigation or inquiry from the government, we can help by developing a strategic approach to resolve the matter efficiently and effectively. We also can assist clients adversely affected by competitors engaged in illegal practices in these areas by devising cost-effective steps to ensure such practices are brought to the attention of the appropriate enforcement entities.

Experience

Our extensive experience in advising clients includes having represented:

State attorneys general experience

  • A major medical device company in a state attorney general investigation into the theft of design patents. The company suffered the loss after an advanced persistent threat attack from the military of a large east Asian country. 
  • Bayer in a 30-state investigation involving prescription drugs.
  • Lilly in a 32-state investigation involving prescription drugs.
  • A major alcoholic beverage manufacturer in a multistate attorneys general investigation alleging violations of the states’ consumer protection laws concerning the company’s caffeinated alcoholic beverages. 
  • A broadcast satellite service provider in a two-year, nationwide consumer protection investigation brought against the client and other satellite TV providers. While 49 states agreed to the initial settlement, the state of Washington held out, alleging that the client had violated the state’s consumer protection statute in connection with its advertising and related practices. Through aggressive litigation, the case was settled on virtually identical terms as the multistate settlement.
  • Multiple clients in the successful settlement of a multistate regulatory inquiry launched by 47 states and the District of Columbia. These clients run discount clubs and membership programs offering a variety of services such as credit monitoring, roadside assistance and discounted travel. The complaints against the company alleged that consumers were misled into signing up and paying for its services.
  • Clients in FTC and state attorney general investigations of data breach, privacy, information security and unfair or deceptive trade practices relating to privacy. 
  • An American broadcasting company in connection with a 47-state consumer protection matter related to advertising, auto-renew subscriptions and similar customer service issues.
  • A for-profit educational services company in connection with a settlement with the Iowa Attorney General regarding marketing and financing of the company’s higher education programs.
  • A national fitness center chain in connection with an investigation under the Texas Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices statute and health club law relating to debt collection and renewal practices. The Texas Attorney General alleged that the company had mailed misleading “past due” notices to former members to encourage them to rejoin the gym. We negotiated a favorable settlement on the client’s behalf.
  • A ticket sales and distribution company in connection with an investigation by numerous state attorneys general relating to the company’s resale ticketing practices. We successfully negotiated a settlement of these investigations, which preserved the client’s resale ticketing model.
  • Several membership service companies in individual and multistate actions relating to negative option marketing, telemarketing and the use of pre-acquired account information.
  • One of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders in concluding a matter that involved 49 state attorneys general and nearly 30 other state agencies from across the United States.
  • A broadcast satellite service provider in a 25-state investigation involving advertising and related marketing practices.
  • A dozen companies in more than 50 separate, state Do Not Call investigations.
  • A national fitness center chain in over a dozen separate state attorney general matters, typically involving both advertising and consumer finance issues.
  • A company in responding to over 15 state inquiries in connection with consumer protection matters relating to ticket purchases for a pop artist’s national tour. These matters were significant in that the company was not required to enter into a formal settlement with any of the state investigations.
  • A transmission-repair franchise in completing an investigation with the New Jersey Attorney General. The matter was particularly successful in that the state did not require the payment of any costs, fees or restitution.
  • A for-profit post-secondary education company in concluding a matter with the California Attorney General. When we became involved several years after the investigation started, the attorney general was threatening to initiate suit in the next several days. We were able to significantly contain this matter and reach a comprehensive settlement within weeks. 

CFPB and FTC experience

  • A large non-bank in a CFPB enforcement action concerning alleged deceptive marketing of payment services.
  • A large non-bank in CFPB supervisory and enforcement actions concerning consumer credit reporting products and services.
  • A large non-bank with no public action or fine in obtaining closure of a two-year CFPB enforcement investigation.
  • An auto finance company in a joint CFPB and Department of Justice investigation concerning fair lending and dealer financing practices.
  • A major alcoholic beverage manufacturer in an FTC enforcement action alleging unfair trade and marketing practices that was ultimately settled.
  • Several companies in Do Not Call investigations with the FTC. 
  • A national satellite broadcast company in ongoing litigation with the FTC regarding advertising issues. 
  • An installment credit company against the FTC. We successfully negotiated a settlement based on allegations that the company failed to disclose all of the terms and conditions of its computer sales program.
  • Clients in FTC and state attorney general investigations of data breach, privacy, information security and unfair or deceptive trade practices relating to privacy. 
  • Clients in dozens of FTC inquiries regarding claims substantiation, many of which ended with close out letters or no further action by FTC; counsel companies on FTC consent decree interpretation and compliance issues.
  • Manufacturers and marketers regarding FTC compliance issues, including labeling, claims development, promotional material and advertising reviews, food safety and post market compliance; also advise clients on labeling issues relating to food and dietary supplements ingredients produced from biotechnology and organic ingredients.
  • Clients in connection with FTC consumer protection investigations involving a publicly reported information security breach that resulted in no enforcement action.
  • A technology company in an FTC financial practices investigation.
  • A communications company in resolving a major FTC privacy investigation regarding access and use of customer data. Given the successful resolution, the matter remains non-public.
  • A retailer in successfully resolving a FTC data breach after highly publicized data breach. 
  • A securities firm in connection with FTC and State Attorney General inquiries following publicized data breach. 
  • A number of clients, including financial institutions, in the major data security investigation of approximately 100 companies announced by the FTC in February 2010. The investigations were triggered as a result of alleged widespread exposure of sensitive information via peer-to-peer file sharing. The FTC’s investigations focused on the companies’ handling of specific data breach incidents as well as the overall legal compliance of the companies’ privacy and information security programs. Sidley’s representation included advocacy before the FTC and counseling regarding design and implementation of compliance strategies.
  • Manufacturers and marketers regarding FTC compliance issues, including labeling, claims development, promotional material and advertising reviews, food safety, and post market compliance. We also advise clients on labeling issues relating to food and dietary supplements ingredients produced from biotechnology and organic ingredients.
  • Financial institutions and others in connection with administrative enforcement actions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act by the FTC.
  • The American Medical Association in its litigation against the FTC to enjoin the application of the FTC’s “Red Flags” rules to doctors.
  • Telecom Company before the FTC and Congress in connection with formal inquiries into the company’s privacy policies and practices. We also represented the company in connection with significant policymaking and regulatory proposals by the FTC under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
  • A major national bank in an FTC investigation of involving data leakage of confidential information due to employee negligence.


*Some of the above matters were handled by our lawyers prior to joining Sidley.