The Law of the Middle Class: Consumer Finance in the Law School Curriculum
18 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2019
Date Written: February 5, 2019
America is defined by its broad middle class, but the middle class is virtually absent from the law school curriculum. Law school courses deal with general concerns (contracts, torts, property, and taxes), the concerns of the rich (trusts and estates), and occasionally the law of the poor, but there are no courses dedicated to the financial concerns of the middle class.
This Essay argues that the defining feature of the American middle class is its reliance on credit to finance its essential purchases: a home, a car, and an education. The law of the middle class is the law of consumer finance. Courses covering the markets and regulation of consumer financial products are not, however, to be found in standard law school course offerings.
It is time for this to change. The creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has centralized and rationalized the institutional structure of consumer financial regulation such that it is now possible to organize a coherent stand-alone course in consumer finance. This Essay argues that consumer finance regulation — the law of the middle class — should become a standard part of the upper-level law school curriculum and presents a vision of what such a course would look like.
Keywords: Middle Class, Consumer Finance, CFPB, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Credit, Payments, Financial Data
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