October 20, 2014
The Philadelphia Inquirer story, Consumers Rarely Use the Right to Cancel a Contract reports on Professor Jeff Sovern’s article, Written Notice of Cooling-Off Periods: A Forty-Year Natural Experiment in Illusory Consumer Protection and the Relative Effectiveness of Oral and Written Disclosures, forthcoming in the University of Pittsburgh Law Review. The article also quotes from an interview with Professor Sovern. The article states:
Sovern, who teaches consumer law and civil procedure at New York’s St. John’s University Law School, analyzed survey responses from 155 businesses that informed consumers of their right to cancel a deal. It rarely seemed to matter. . . .
“I’ve been teaching these laws for more than a quarter-century, and I’ve been wondering if they actually helped anybody,” [Sovern] told me last week.
For the full story, with additional quotes and discussion of Sovern’s research go to the full article.
September 25, 2014
ContractsProf Blog has organized a virtual symposium on Omri Ben-Shahar’s and Carl Schneider’s book, More That You Wanted to Know: The Failure of Mandated Disclosure. So far, ten scholars have provided posts, including professors from Georgetown, NYU, Minnesota, Fordham, Cornell, Washington, Iowa, and other law schools. Professor Jeff Sovern’s contribution is about whether single-letter grade disclosures, such as those seen at the entrances of New York City restaurants, are a useful form of disclosure.
August 19, 2014
The New York Times has published Professor Jeff Sovern’s letter responding to an article, Baby Pictures at the Doctor’s? Cute, Sure, but Illegal. The letter states in part:
You report that federal privacy laws block doctors from posting pictures of patient babies where others can see them. Surely parents sending baby pictures to physicians do not expect the photos to be secret.
The law should be amended to permit their posting, unless parents request that they be kept private. This is the type of regulation that fuels claims that government is the problem.
It is Professor Sovern’s 41st letter in the Times.
July 28, 2014
Professor Jeff Sovern presented the results of the arbitration study he, Professors Elayne Greenberg, Paul Kirgis, and St. John’s University Director of Institutional Assessment Yuxiang Liu have conducted to the Pound Civil Justice Institute’s Forum for State Appellate Court Judges on July 26. Professor Sovern was the luncheon speaker, at an event attended by judges from three dozen states.
September 6, 2013
The National Law Journal reported on Professor Jeff Sovern‘s article, Law Student Laptop Use During Class for Non-Class Purposes: Temptation v. Incentives, 51 University of Louisville Law Review 483 (2013), in a story titled Laptops Found More Likely to Distract 2Ls and 3Ls in Class. The report quoted both from the article and from an email interview with Professor Sovern.
The article quotes Sovern’s reaction to his findings and their relation to the current debate on the length of law school as follows: “I was surprised and disappointed at how many upper-year students tune out. Those arguing that law school should be only two years may find support in the findings that many upper year students are not engaged during doctrinal classes. But the study sheds no light on the value of small seminars or skills courses.”
The Legal Skills Prof Blog also posted an item about Sovern’s article, in which it noted that the article had “generated a lot of buzz.”
July 11, 2013
My co-blogger, Professor Jeff Sovern, has published another insightful op-ed in the New York Times. This piece, entitled, To Catch a Creditor, considers why credit report errors persist and what should be done about it. Professor Sovern and his co-author, Ira Rheingold of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, suggest that
[w]hile federal law requires credit bureaus to conduct a reasonable investigation of consumer complaints, the marketplace can penalize credit bureaus that investigate too aggressively. Credit bureaus are heavily dependent on lenders for both revenue and the information the bureaus package and sell; if a credit bureau presses a lender too hard, the lender could patronize a different bureau and withhold data about its customers.
In contrast, consumers have little power over credit-reporting agencies. Consumers cannot, for example, block credit bureaus from obtaining information about their transactions.
Consequently, credit bureaus have every reason to favor lenders’ interests when investigating complaints.
The full op-ed can be found on page A27 in the paper edition of the New York Times and online here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/opinion/to-catch-a-creditor.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y&_r=0.
June 26, 2013
In a new book about the enactment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Financial Justice: The People’s Campaign to Stop Lender Abuse, authors Larry Kirscsh and Robert N. Mayer cite a campaign led by Professor Jeff Sovern and Hofstra’s Norman Silber.
The text states in relevant part:
[Seventy-four] legal scholars–led by Jeff Sovern and Norman Silber–sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to create a consumer financial protection agency. . . . [Their] message was clear: the CFPB was the right way to correct past mistakes that had undermined the country’s financial stability ‘and toward a better future for consumers and the nation.’
A full copy of Professor Sovern’s letter can be found here.