Written by Tom Papson

Jun 10


DC Council Passes Landmark Debt Collection Law

The District of Columbia will soon have in place what may be the most progressive law in the nation protecting consumers from unfair and abusive debt collection practices.

On June 7, 2022, the DC Council passed the Protecting Consumers from Unjust Debt Collection Practices Amendment Act of 2021 (B24-0357). The new law now awaits the Mayor’s signature and a congressional review period before becoming applicable on January 1, 2023. In the meantime, the Council already has put in place an emergency version of the law, which it also voted to extend at the June 7 legislative meeting. Read more →

Dec 06


New DC Legislation Will Protect Consumers’ Structured Settlement Annuity Rights

Many personal injury cases in the District are settled using a “structured settlement.” Such settlements provide for the payment of damages to the injured party in a stream of income over a period of years through a special form of annuity. But the persons holding these annuities are often victimized by companies who seek to purchase some or all of the future payments in exchange for immediate cash that is far less than the value of the purchased payments. To make matters worse, the sellers often do not understand the full implications of the transaction. Read more →

Sep 11


Washington Post Publishes Legal Aid Op-Ed on Structured Settlements

The Washington Post published an opinion piece today (to appear in the Sunday, September 13 print edition of the paper) that Heather Latino and I drafted regarding the sale of structured settlements in the District of Columbia, and legislation under consideration by the D.C. Council to address those transactions. Our op-ed was written in reaction to an article in the Post from several weeks ago about vulnerable individuals in Baltimore — victims of lead poisoning — who sold their settlements for a fraction of their current value. D.C. is one of only three jurisdictions in the United States that has not enacted legislation regarding the sale of structured settlements. Legal Aid is committed to continue working with other advocates to seek the passage of legislative protections for annuity holders who want to enter into these transactions in the District.

Jan 14


Retired Law Firm Partner Joins Legal Aid

I began planning for an early retirement from my “big law” career some time ago, thinking there was still time for another chapter in my legal career. I wanted to do something that would put me in closer touch with the “equal justice under law” ideal that had influenced my decision to become a lawyer in the first place.

So in September 2013, having wound down my 30-plus year practice at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, I joined Legal Aid’s Consumer Law Unit as a pro bono volunteer pending my official retirement at year end. As of January 1, I became a Volunteer Staff Attorney, representing consumers in debt collection cases as part of the Consumer Law Unit’s court-based initiative in the Superior Court’s collection dockets. Read more →