The National Associate of Retail Collection Attorneys (NARCA) next month is holding a day-long symposium on debt collection that it hopes will better educate consumers, their advocates, and regulators on the role attorneys play in the ARM process.

NARCA is presenting its Legal Symposium on Consumer Debt Collection on October 15 at George Washington University in Washington, DC. The unique event will feature collection attorneys, judges, economists, consumer advocates, and at least representatives from federal agencies, including the CFPB.

The association says that the main focus is to engage with the public and combat the negative stereotype usually associated with the legal collection channel.

“Our story often gets lost or does not even get heard,” said Joann Needleman, President-Elect of NARCA and chair of the task force that created the symposium. “We hope to engage in an honest discussion of the role of the collection attorney.”

The symposium is free and open to the public. NARCA is also aggressively inviting members of the press to attend and cover the event. Using the courts for debt collection has been featured prominently in the press over the past few years.

The move to create an educational, high-profile symposium was driven in part by the story being told by others, including federal regulators. The FTC in 2010 issued a report entitled “Repairing a Broken System: Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration.” NARCA took issue with the legal collection system being classified as “broken.”

“This is an opportunity to reintroduce to the public how the court system works, especially as it relates to debt collection,” said Needleman.  She noted that some of the content will focus on basic concepts like enforcement of contracts and the law.

But there is also a need to have an understanding among those in the legal ARM profession on how to make the court process more user-friendly for consumers, said Needleman. The final panel of the day, “Attorney-Consumer Communications: A Roadmap to Resolution,” will focus on just that.

The symposium will consist of four panel discussions comprised of more than 20 experts in fields related to consumer legal collections. To view the agenda and register for the event, visit


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