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In paying tribute to Rick Hackett, the CFPB’s parting assistant director, the magazine’s legal insider says the industry lost a key connection to its newest regulator.

July 2013, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Michael Benoit

This month’s article is dedicated to Rick Hackett, a first-rate consumer credit lawyer and, most recently, the assistant director for installment lending and liquidity markets at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Rick announced his retirement in June. Hopefully, he’ll be getting some much-needed rest and the opportunity to work on his golf swing. I, for one, am sad to see him leave the bureau.

I first met Rick almost 15 years ago. We were at a Consumer Financial Services Committee meeting for the American Bar Association (ABA). I remember being a little intimidated by his seemingly gruff, no-nonsense demeanor. I quickly learned that he was a passionate and dedicated counsel who really knew his stuff. I also learned that he was one of the most approachable and generous practitioners in the industry, with a sharp sense of humor and a ready answer (or query) for whatever legal topic you brought him.

Rick’s contribution to the CFPB has been priceless. The man is always thinking, always trying to see all sides of an issue, and always open to being convinced to change his position should logic dictate. As an attorney who has had the privilege of learning from, and working with, the best practitioners in the industry, I can say that Rick is all that and more. The wealth of experience he garnered in representing the industry for 30 years allowed him to bring historical perspective and practical knowledge to the table. That, in turn, helped educate his colleagues on the finer points of a body of law that is often confusing and counterintuitive.

I have a lot of respect for the folks who work at the CFPB, if for no other reason than their dedication and tireless work. It is not unusual to get return phone calls from them well after normal working hours, and I think many of them work as many hours a week as would be expected of a new associate at a multinational law firm. Trust me, that’s a lot of hours!

Rick is one of the hardest working people I know at the CFPB, and it’s no surprise that he may be a little tuckered out from what has been a two-plus-year effort.

What I’ll really miss is his advice and counsel, as well as the clarity he is able to bring to the table, particularly when difficult issues are involved. I’ve had the pleasure of bringing several groups in to see Rick and his colleagues, and he has always been unwavering in his thirst for information and data that could help him reach the best conclusions.

Even if he never said anything in a meeting (a rare occurrence), you knew he was fully engaged, as he would be furiously taking notes on his ever-present legal pad. He never shied away from asking tough questions, but even when I might have disagreed with him, I had total respect for his position.

I also appreciate the fact that he always returned phone calls and answered e-mails. It’s easy in a regulatory agency to forget that the folks you regulate more often than not want to do the right thing. Maintaining open lines of communication always makes it an easier and more expedient journey.

Given his voracious intellectual curiosity, I wonder if retirement will suit him. I sincerely wish him all the best. But on a selfish note, I hope he decides to re-engage and bring his formidable talent back to our stage. Absent that, I can always hope that Mrs. Hackett would prefer he didn’t hang around the house all day.

Rick, thank you for your service and contributions you’ve made to me and countless other practitioners. And thank you for the wisdom you brought to the CFPB. Godspeed, my friend.

Michael Benoit is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Hudson Cook LLP. He is a frequent speaker and writer on a variety of consumer credit topics. He can be reached at [email protected] Nothing in this article is legal advice and should not be taken as such. Please address all legal questions to your counsel.

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