Jeff Sovern is a Professor of Law at St. John’s University in New York City where he teaches Civil Procedure, Consumer Protection, Payment Systems, and Introduction to Law. The New York Times has called him "an expert in consumer law," a statement echoed by the Chicago Tribune, and Mother Jones, while Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call has described him as a “leading figure in consumer financial law.” He is a Fellow of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers. The American Council on Consumer Interests awarded him its Russell A. Dixon Prize in 2002 and its 2010 Applied Consumer Economics Award.
Professor Sovern also writes for law students. He co-authored a casebook titled Consumer Law: Cases and Materials (5th ed. 2020 West) with Professors Dee Pridgen and Christopher Peterson, with whom he also co-edited Selected Consumer Statutes (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2020 editions). He previously co-authored the third and fourth editions of the casebook.
Finally, Professor Sovern writes for law professors, judges, lawyers and other academics interested in consumer issues. His scholarly writings have appeared in the Wisconsin Law Review, Fordham Law Review, Washington Law Review, William and Mary Law Review, Ohio State Law Journal (twice), University of California-Irvine Law Review, Maryland Law Review, SMU Law Review, The Business Lawyer, Federal Rules Decisions, the University of Pittsburgh Law Review (here and here), Rutgers Law Review (here and here), Missouri Law Review, McGeorge Law Review, DePaul Law Review, Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review, Advancing the Consumer Interest, the Annual Review of Banking Law, Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, Journal of Consumer Affairs (twice), the Journal of Commercial and Consumer Law (twice), and the Encyclopedia of Housing. He is a co-coordinator of the Consumer Law and Policy Blog, which can be read at www.clpblog.org, and the editor of the Consumer Law Abstracts eJournal for the Social Science Research Network, available at www.ssrn.com.
The federal Department of Education relied in part on an article Professor Sovern co-authored when it issued its 2016 student loan regulations barring the use of pre-dispute arbitration clauses. His writings have been cited more than one thousand times. One of his articles was listed in Martha Minow’s Archetypal Legal Scholarship: A Field Guide, 63 J. Legal Education 65 (2013) as an example of archetypal policy analysis.
Sovern has spoken at the Pound Civil Justice Institute's Forum for State Appellate Court Judges, Georgetown Law School, the Consumer Law Scholars Conference at the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice at the University of California—Berkeley Law School (four times), the University of California-Irvine (twice), the Conference of the American Association of Law Schools (twice), the National Consumer Law Center’s Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, the University of Houston's Conference on Teaching Consumer Law (multiple times), the Practicing Law Institute's Consumer Financial Services Institute (three times), the Summer Judicial Seminar for New York State Judges, the Annual Conference of the American Council on Consumer Interests (three times), the Annual Conference of the International Association of Consumer Law, Rutgers Law School (twice), the Public Citizen/American Constitution Society Convening on Access to Justice Issues, Hofstra Law School, the New York City Consumer Advocates Task Force, the New York City Consumer Debt Working Conference, and the Privacy Law Scholars Conference, among other events. He has also spoken at webinars conducted by the American Bar Association and the Ballard Spahr law firm. Professor Sovern has served as Reporter to the Eastern District Discovery Oversight Committee and on committees of the American and New York State Bar Associations and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
Before joining the law faculty, Professor Sovern served as a law clerk to Judge Frank A. Kaufman of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland and practiced law in the litigation department of a major New York City law firm. He holds A.B. and J.D. degrees from Columbia University.
Despite all this, he still gets stuck taking out the garbage a lot at home.
Consumer Law: Cases and Materials (with Dee Pridgen, & Christopher Peterson) (5th ed. 2020 West)
Selected Consumer Statutes (with Dee Pridgen & Christopher Peterson) (2019 West)
Selected Consumer Statutes (with Dee Pridgen & Christopher Peterson) (2015 West).
Consumer Law: Cases And Materials (with John A. Spanogle, Ralph J. Rohner, Dee Pridgen, & Christopher Peterson) (4th ed. 2013 Thomson/West).
Selected Consumer Statutes (with John A. Spanogle, Ralph J. Rohner, Dee Pridgen and Christopher Peterson) (2013 Thomson/West)
Selected Consumer Statutes (with John A. Spanogle, Ralph J. Rohner & Dee Pridgen) (2011 Thomson/West)
Selected Consumer Statutes (with John A. Spanogle, Ralph J. Rohner & Dee Pridgen) ( 2009 Thomson/West).
Consumer Law: Cases And Materials (with John A. Spanogle, Ralph J. Rohner & Dee Pridgen) (3d ed. 2007 Thomson/West).
Selected Consumer Statutes (with John A. Spanogle, Ralph J. Rohner & Dee Pridgen) (2007 Thomson/West)
Six Scandals: Why We Need Consumer Protection Laws Instead of Just Markets, 11 Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review 1 (2021)
Validation and Verification Vignettes: More Results from an Empirical Study of Consumer Understanding of Debt Collection Validation Notices (with Kate E. Walton & Nathan Frishberg), 71 Rutgers Law Rev. 189 (2018)
Free-Market Failure: The Wells Fargo Arbitration Clause Example, 70 Rutgers Law Rev. 417 (2018)
The Content of Consumer Law Classes III, 22 J. Consumer & Commercial L. 2 (2018)
Are Validation Notices Valid? An Empirical Evaluation of Consumer Understanding of Debt Collection Validation Notices, 75 SMU Law Review 63 (2017) (with Kate Walton)
"Whimsy Little Contracts" With Unexpected Consequences: An Empirical Analysis Of Consumer Understanding Of Arbitration Agreements (with Professors Kirgis, Greenberg, and Yuxiang Liu, 75 Maryland Law Review 1 (2015) .
Can Cost-Benefit Analysis Help Consumer Protection Laws? Or at Least Benefit Analysis? 4 UC Irvine Law Review 1241 (2014).
Written Notice of Cooling-Off Periods: A Forty-Year Natural Experiment in Illusory Consumer Protection And The Relative Effectiveness of Oral And Written Disclosures, 75 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 333 (2014).
Fixing Consumer Protection Laws So Borrowers Understand Their Payment Obligations, 48 Journal of Consumer Affairs 17 (2014)
Law Student Laptop Use During Class for Non-Class Purposes: Temptation v. Incentives, 51 University of Louisville Law Review 483 (2013).
Encyclopedia entries on Cooling-off Periods and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in Encyclopedia of Consumer Protection and Safety (ABC-CLIO)
Preventing Future Economic Crises Through Consumer Protection Law or How the Truth in Lending Act Failed the Subprime Borrowers, 71 Ohio State Law Journal 761 (2010), reprinted in the Practising Law Institute's 16th Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute Course Handbook (2011). Winner, American Council on Consumer Interests 2010 Applied Consumer Economics Award.
The Content of Consumer Law Classes II, 14 Journal of Consumer and Commercial Law No. 1 at 16 (2010)
The Coase Theorem and the Power to Increase Transaction Costs, 40 McGeorge Law Review 935 (2009)
The Content of Consumer Law Classes,12 Journal of Consumer and Commercial Law, 48 (2008)
Towards a New Theory of Consumer Protection: The Problem of Inflated Transaction Costs , 47 William & Mary Law Review 1635-1709 (2006)
Stopping Identity Theft,38 Journal of Consumer Affairs 233-243 (2004)
The Jewel of Their Souls: Preventing Identity Theft Through Loss Allocation Rules,64 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 343-406 (2003)
Protecting Privacy with Deceptive Trade Practices Legislation , 69 Fordham Law Review 1305-1357 (2001 )
Helping Consumers Protect Their Personal Information, 12 Advancing the Consumer Interest (American Council on Consumer Interests) No. 2 at 23-30 (2000). Winner, Russell A. Dixon Prize.
Opting In, Opting Out, or No Options at All: The Fight for Control of Personal Information,74 Washington Law Review 1033-1118 (1999)
Implied Warranties of Quality in the Sale of New Homes in Encyclopedia of Housing 307-09 (1998 )
Good Will Adjustment Games: An Economic and Legal Analysis of Secret Warranty Regulation, 60 Missouri Law Review 323-414 (1995 )
Toward the Regulation of Secret Warranties, 7 Advancing the Consumer Interest (American Council on Consumer Interests ) No. 2 at 13-19 (1995)
Creating a Private Cause of Action under the New York Fair Debt Collection PracticesAct, 50 Record 345 (1995) (Principal Author of Committee Report)
Toward a Theory of Warranties in Sales of New Homes: Housing the Implied Warranty Advocates, Law and Economics Mavens, and Consumer Psychologists Under One Roof,1993 Wisconsin Law Review 13-103
Private Actions under Deceptive Trade Practices Acts: Reconsidering the FTC Act as Rule Model, 52 Ohio State Law Journal 437-467 (1991)
Contributed to Annual Surveys of Commercial Law by supplying comments on recent cases in 45 Business Lawyer 2341 (1990), 44 Business Lawyer 1515 (1989), 43 Business Lawyer 1305 (1988), 42 Business Lawyer 1269 (1987)
Paradigm and Paradox in New York Consumer Credit Law: After Holder in Due Course, 6 Annual Review of Banking Law 119-180 (1987)
Report of the Discovery Oversight Committee of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York , reprinted in 2 Garfinkel, Current Problems in Federal Civil Practice 495-636 (1986) (with others)
Book Review of Lord’s Justice by Sheldon Engelmayer and Robert Wagman (1985), 35 DePaul Law Review 763-771 (1986)
Reconsidering Federal Civil Rule 9(b): Do We Need Particularized Pleading Requirements in Fraud Cases? 104 Federal Rules Decisions 143-180 (1985)
Enjoining Payment on a Letter of Credit in Bankruptcy: A Tempest in a Twistcap,38 Business Lawyer 21-33 (1982) (with Helen Davis Chaitman)
Allied Structural Steel v. Spannaus: Added Obligations, the Contract Clause, and Due Process,16 Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems 119-128 (1980)
NYS Consumer Protection Bill Provides Needed Safeguards, Newsday, Apr. 18, 2022
The COVID liability charade: Mitch McConnell’s demand is built on dishonest claims, N.Y. Daily News, Dec. 15, 2020
Instead of Liability Waivers, Reduce the Spread of Covid-19, Bloomberg Law, Oct. 13, 2020
Placing Consumers at the Forefront of Relief Efforts, The American Prospect, April 5, 2020 (with Norman I. Silber)
CFPB Should Cut Back on Texts, Emails Debt Collectors Could Send, Bloomberg Law insight, June 11, 2019
Congress is considering privacy legislation – be afraid. The Conversation, May 16, 2019
Congress should follow California's lead in protecting consumers, CNN.com, January 21, 2019
Why the ABA is Wrong on Amending Debt Collection Bill, Bloomberg Law, December 6, 2018 (with Gina Calabrese)
Mick Mulvaney turned the CFPB into a do-nothing government cog, The Conversation, June 29, 2018
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, leaving the public high and dry, New York Daily News, May 24, 2018
Consumers are biggest losers of Trump’s ongoing war on regulations, The Conversation, February 8, 2018, republished in the San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and Houston Chronicle.
Why we need to save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (with Gina Calabrese and Ann Goldweber), The Conversation, November 15, 2017, republished in the San Francisco Chronicle, CNBC.com, and the New York Observer, and chosen for inclusion in Former Vice-President Joe Biden’s podcast, Biden’s Briefing
Financial Choice Act Prioritizes Banks over Consumers, Morning Consult, July 25, 2017
How This New Rule Prevents Your Bank from Ripping You Off, Fortune.com, July 13, 2017
Would Wells scandal have come to light with a defanged CFPB?, American Banker, May 25, 2017
Trump Faces Stark Choice: Protect Consumers or Banks, NY Times Dealbook, Jan. 18, 2017
The Risks of Unfettered Capitalism, NY Times Dealbook, Aug. 15, 2016
Phantom Debts Plague Collections System, American Banker, July 28, 2016
What Can We Learn from Trump University's Sales Script, The Hill, July 8, 2016
Keep Banks from Playing Tricks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 26, 2016
The war on consumer protection, USA Today, March 16, 2016
CFPB Arbitration Plan Provokes Dubious Industry Claims, American Banker, Nov. 12, 2015
Arbitration Clauses for Credit Cards Cost Consumers, Boston Globe, May 25, 2015
Consumers often sign contracts they don't read or understand, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 3, 2015
When Consumers Give Up Their Right to Trial in Financial Disputes, NY Times Dealbook, January 30, 2015
Arbitration Tricks Consumers into Giving Up Their Rights, American Banker, January 22, 2015
Arbitration Clauses Trap Consumers with Fine Print , American Banker, December 2, 2014
Business Forum: Data brokers peddle information for their own selfish interests, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 23, 2014
Consumer contracts should not be secrets (with Theresa Amato), The Hill Congress Blog, March 18, 2014
To Catch a Creditor, N.Y. Times, July 10, 2013 (with Ira Rheingold), reprinted in theDallas Morning News
Business Forum: Make sure consumers use protection rules, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 17, 2012
Consumer Protection is a Partisan Issue, The American Banker, October 24, 2012
Romney Will Put Business Before Consumers, The Hill, October 9, 2012
Help for the Perplexed Home Buyer, New York Times, July 18, 2012
Holding All the Cards, Commonweal, July 11, 2012
Business Forum: Subprime borrowers need more protection, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 12, 2012
Elizabeth Warren Changed the Country, The Hill Congress Blog, February 3, 2012
Don't Let Banking Industry Capture the CFPB, American Banker, October 12, 2011
Fair shake for Obama consumer protection nominee, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 13, 2011
Laptops in class: How distracting are they? Christian Science Monitor, June 6, 2011 reprinted in Yahoonews.com and the Alaska Dispatch
Don’t defund Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 12, 2011
What next? The Hill’s Congress Blog, October 21, 2010
Simple is better in consumer protection talks, The Hill (print edition), June 16, 2010
Why should car dealers be exempt? Politico, June 22, 2010
Warren would protect consumers, not the banks, The Hill Congress Blog, July 28, 2010
Consumer bureau is just the first step, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 17, 2010
Let States Set Consumer Protections, on CNN.com, May 18, 2010
Take Consumer Watchdog off the Fed's Leash: Sen. Chris Dodd's bill Will Weaken a Critical New Agency, New York Daily News, March 25, 2010
The Importance of CFPA Independence, The Hill (online only), March 15, 2010
Adjustable Mortgage a Pig in a Poke, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 24, 2010
Private Sector Commentary: New Credit Card Law Has Teeth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 30, 2009
U.S. Needs Agency to Watch Consumer Credit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 18, 2008
Borrowers Must Understand Their Obligations, American Banker, May 13, 2009
"Truth In Lending" Needs to be Updated, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 16, 2008
Consumer Lists Are Not So Innocent If You Can't Opt Out, Christian Science Monitor, July 20, 2007
The Missing Branch, The New York Times, July 25, 1999, § 14, reprinted in Chicken Soup for the Single Parent’s Soul (2005)
Letters published in the New York Times on December 30, 2015, May 6, 2015, August 9, 2014, June 10, 2014, March 6, 2014, November 16, 2013, June 1, 2013, March 9, 2013, November 13, 2012, August 25, 2012, August 15, 2012, July 8, 2012, June 2, 2012, May 21, 2012, December 31, 2011, August 31, 2011, March 30, 2011, February 13, 2010, August 27, 2009, May 11, 2009, February 2, 2009, March 29, 2007, December 18, 2006, June 1, 2006, June 23, 2005, October 31, 2004, April 17, 2003, October 12, 2002, June 25, 2002, December 20, 2001, October 2, 2001, March 27, 2001, July 4, 2000, April 24, 2000, October 26, 1999, July 5, 1999, April 20, 1999, February 28, 1999, June 17, 1998, January 4, 1998, July 17, 1997, November 20, 1996, and November 16, 1994.
Quoted by Bloomberg, NBC.com, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Reports, Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Daily News, Newsday, Washington Post, Mother Jones, Bloomberg, NBC.com, ABA Journal EReports, CBS News, The National Law Journal, The Oregonian, Law360.com, The Huffington Post, and the Associated Press, Consumer Reports, Washington Examiner, the Center for Public Integrity, MarketWatch, Forbes.
Co-coordinator, Consumer Law and Policy Blog
Editor, LSN Consumer Law Abstracts, available at www.ssrn.com
Uncontrolled Lending to Consumers Spawned the Financial Crisis (with Professor Norman I. Silber of Hofstra), Baseline Scenario Blog, March 7, 2010
News Flash: Lenders Prefer Fragmented Regulation of the Consumer Financial Marketplace (with Professor Norman I. Silber of Hofstra Law School), Huffington Post, November 2, 2009
Could a Consumer Financial Protection Agency Have Prevented the Economic Crisis, on FinReg21
Restoring State Law, on New Deal 2.0 Blog
A Tale of Two Banksters, on New Deal 2.0 Blog
Advice to Newly Widowed Fathers of Young Children, reprinted on the web sites of parentsworld.com and singleparents.about.com.
Using Learning Science to Teach Consumer Law, University of Houston Law Center's and and the UC Berkeley School of Law's Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice Teaching Consumer Law Conference (May 20, 2022)
Six Scandals: Why We Need Consumer Protection Laws Instead of Just Markets, Consumer Law Scholars Conference at the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice at the University of California—Berkeley Law School (March 5, 2021)
Discussant and Facilitator, Second Consumer Law Scholars Conference at the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice at the University of California—Berkeley Law School (March 5 & 6, 2020)
Co-moderator, consumer protection discussion, Public Citizen/American Constitution Society Convening on Access to Justice Issues (November 1, 2019)
Do Markets Provide Consumer Protection?, 17th Conference of the International Association of Consumer Law at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis, Indiana (June 13, 2019)
Discussant and Facilitator, First Consumer Law Scholars Conference at the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice at the University of California—Berkeley Law School (February 21 & 22, 2019)
"Teaching Consumer Law: What Has Been Included--What Should Be?" University of Houston Law Center's Teaching Consumer Law Conference (May 18, 2018)
The CFPB Under the trump Administration: Where is it now and where is it going? Practising Law Institute's Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute (March 26, 2018)
Validation and Verification Vignettes: More Results from an Empirical Study of Consumer Understanding of Debt Collection Validation Notices, Rutgers Law School Center for Corporate Law and Governance Workshop on Consumer Financial Protection Law (Feb. 2, 2018)
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Trump administration, New York City Bar Association Committee on Consumer Affairs (Oct. 12, 2017)
What Concerns Do Experts Have for Future Debt Collection Practices after the Supreme Court's Decision in Henson v. Santander? American Bankruptcy Institute podcast (June 19, 2017)
The CFPB’s Future, New York City Consumer Advocates Task Force (May 9, 2017)
What We Know and Don’t Know About Consumer Arbitration, University of California Irvine Law School's Civil Justice Institute Symposium on Practitioners and Scholars in Dialogue: What Do We Know About the Civil Justice System (April 28, 2017)
Free-Market Economics and Arbitration Clauses in Consumer Contracts: The Wells Fargo Example, Rutgers Law School symposium on Resolving the Arbitration Dispute in Today's Legal Landscape, Panel on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rulemaking and Consumer Arbitration Clauses (April 7, 2017)
The 2016 presidential election’s effect on consumer financial services, Ballard Spahr webinar (February 8, 2017)
Consumer Protection in a Trump Administration, American Bar Association Section on Antitrust Law webinar (January17, 2017)
Whimsy Little Contracts, New York City Bar Association Committee on Consumer Affairs (October 26, 2016)
Are FDCPA Validation Notices Valid? University of Houston’s Law Center Conference Teaching Consumer Law (May 20, 2016)
Whimsy Little Contracts, American Council on Consumer Interests Annual Conference, 2015
Whimsy Little Contracts, Pound Civil Justice Institute's Forum for State Appellate Court Judges, 2014
Increasing the Prominence of Consumer Law and Influencing Policy, University of Houston Law Center Conference on Teaching Consumer Law (May 30, 2014)
Grading Fine Print Georgetown Law School conference on consumer law, titled "Making the Fine Print Fair" April 4, 2014
Can Cost-Benefit Analysis Help Consumer Protection Laws? University of California-Irvine Law School symposium on cost- benefit analysis (2013)
Practising Law Institute’s 18th Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute (2013)
Written Notice of Cooling-Off Periods: A Forty-Year Natural Experiment in Illusory Consumer Protection and the Relative Effectiveness of Oral and Written Disclosures, American Council on Consumer Interests Annual Conference (2013).
Can Cost-Benefit Analysis Help Consumer Protection Laws?, University of California-Irvine symposium on cost-benefit analysis (2013)
Disclosure in Consumer Credit, University of Houston Law Center Conference on Teaching Consumer Law (2012)
Practising Law Institute’s 16th Annual Consumer Financial Services Institute (February – March 2011)
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency/Bureau, University of Houston Law Center Conference on Teaching Consumer Law (2010)
Preventing Future Economic Crises through Consumer Protection Law, Annual Conference of the American Council on Consumer Interests (ACCI), held in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (2010)
Why the Truth in Lending Act Disclosures Prescribed by the Fed Failed to Prevent the Subprime Crisis, Association of American Law Schools’ Annual Meeting (2010)
Program on Consumer Debt, Summer Judicial Seminars for New York State Judges (July-August 2009)
Second Annual Privacy Law Scholars Conference presented by George Washington University and University of California at Berkeley Law Schools at Berkeley (2009)
New York City Consumer Debt Working Conference presented by the Feerick Center for Social Justice and the New York County Lawyers Association Justice Center at Fordham University School of Law (2008)
First Annual Privacy Law Scholars Conference presented by George Washington University and University of California at Berkeley Law Schools at GWU (2008)
Teaching Consumer Law: The Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How presented by the Center for Consumer Law at the University of Houston Law Center (2008)
Consumer Rights Litigation Conference presented by the National Consumer Law Center (2007)
Teaching Consumer Law: The Past, Present and Future of Consumer Law presented by the Center for Consumer Law at the University of Houston Law Center (2006)
Panel on Privacy at the Annual Conference presented by the Association of American Law Schools (2001)