The attorneys for the appellees in Delegall et al. v. Nagle & Zaller, P.C., et al., recently filed a reply to the MSBA’s amicus curiae brief. As it has stated previously, the MSBA rarely takes a position in ongoing litigation, but felt it was necessary to do so in this matter on behalf of the profession as a whole.
The MSBA champions the rights of all attorneys equally. The MSBA’s sole interest in filing the amicus curiae brief in the subject case and in Chavis v. Blibaum Associates, P.A., is to work to maintain the integrity of the attorney-client relationship, so that Maryland lawyers can continue to advocate wholeheartedly on behalf of their clients.
As set forth in the MSBA’s brief, attorneys do not engage in the business of making loans as part of their regular practice, and therefore, they are not “lenders” under the provisions of the MCLL and it should not apply to them. While the Court determined in a recent case that some “collectors” as defined in the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (MCDCA) are attorneys, no Maryland court has found attorneys to be “lenders” as the term is used by the MCDCA or the MCLL.
Further, should the court rule that attorneys are “lenders” under the Maryland Consumer Loan Law (the MCLL), it would place a significant administrative burden on them, and limit them from fully representing their client’s interests. Lawyers drafting structured settlement agreements or executing confessions of judgment would become lenders to opposing parties and would have to take on the obligations imposed on lenders. In other words, adopting the onerous assertion that such lawyers are lenders would create an insurmountable conflict of interest, in that it would obligate them to serve the interests of parties that are adverse to their clients.
For the above-noted reasons in addition to those previously developed in the MSBA’s amicus curiae brief, the MSBA believes that the Court of Appeals of Maryland should rule that attorneys who negotiate and draft settlement agreements and repayment plans are not “lenders” as defined by the MCLL.