Sarah Johnson Auchterlonie

Sarah Johnson Auchterlonie

Special Counsel

Sarah Auchterlonie represents firms involved in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) civil division investigations. She also provides expert witness testimony and consultation in consumer finance litigations.

Ms. Auchterlonie is one of the few private practice attorneys in the nation who has worked for both a federal prudential bank regulator and the CFPB’s Office of Enforcement. Prior to joining the CFPB on the agency’s first day, she worked as a trial attorney at the Treasury Department’s Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) during the height of the U.S. financial crises. At the CFPB, she managed a dozen-plus enforcement attorneys as an assistant litigation deputy and an acting deputy enforcement director, working on  dozens of CFPB enforcement, supervision, and litigation matters. Her notable work includes handling the CFPB's first administrative proceeding and appeal to the Bureau Director, In the Matter of PHH Corp.

Ms. Auchterlonie provides expert testimony on CFPB administrative processes as well as real estate settlement services anti-kickback laws and policies. She also advises American Indian tribal regulators on federal consumer financial protection regulation and enforcement.

While working in government, Ms. Auchterlonie led the investigation and prosecution of CFPB matters involving equal credit opportunity (ECOA); deceptive advertising about reverse mortgages, credit scores, and mortgage add-on products; truth in lending (TILA); fair debt collection (FDCPA); fair credit reporting (FCRA); military lending (MLA); real estate settlement procedures (RESPA); telephone solicitation rule (TSR); payday, auto-title, and small-dollar installment lending; multiple CFPB, FTC, and Federal Reserve regulations, and unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices (UDAAP).

At the Treasury Department, Ms. Auchterlonie represented the OTS on issues involving regulatory capital, Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering Act (BSA/AML), releasing confidential supervisory information, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), investigations of elder financial abuse, and investigations arising from the financial crisis.

On behalf of U.S. companies engaged in consumer finance, Ms. Auchterlonie handles a broad range of compliance matters, including:

  • Responding to FTC requests, DOJ and CFPB civil investigative demands (CIDs), CFPB potential action and request for response letters (PARR letters), requests for information (RFIs); notice & comment on proposed consumer finance regulations; and CFPB notices of opportunity to respond and advise (NORA) calls;
  • Negotiating CFPB, DOJ civil, and FTC consent orders;
  • Conducting state, tribal, or federal regulatory examinations;
  • Cyber theft, identity theft, elder financial abuse, and privacy incident response;
  • Analyzing joint-venture, third-party service provider, or marketing services agreements for compliance issues, as well as consulting with companies in disputes about these agreements;
  • For startup companies, creating a complete suite of compliance materials, processes, and mechanisms to meet state, tribal, or federal regulatory requirements;
  • Updating compliance policies and procedures; assessing document retention policies;
  • Advising financial institutions about lending to or taking deposits from marijuana related businesses (MRBs);
  • Editing companies’ consumer-facing internet pages, privacy notices, disclosures, and marketing materials for compliance issues;
  • Establishing consumer privacy policies and procedures;
  • Advising executives on process improvements to enhance consumer finance compliance;
  • Drafting comments on proposed regulations or responding to government requests for information;
  • Helping prospective investors in consumer finance firms to identify litigation risks during transaction due diligence; and
  • Providing subject matter expertise to trial counsel in lawsuits about consumer compliance issues, which includes analyzing evidence, and drafting complaints and dispositive motions.

Ms. Auchterlonie also counsels and advises banks, thrifts, foreign offices, and holding companies on prudential regulator issues involving compliance, high-volatility commercial real estate (HVCRE) and third-party oversight.

Ms. Auchterlonie was responsible for many important legal “firsts” in banking and consumer finance. She worked with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on the first joint lawsuit brought in federal court by the CFPB and the DOJ to enforce federal fair lending laws, CFPB et. al. v. National City Bank. At OTS, she represented the agency in the only challenge to an FDIC receivership in the wake of the financial crisis, United Western Bank v. OTS, et. al. In addition, she directly supervised enforcement counsel in the CFPB's first administrative proceeding and appeal to the bureau director, In the Matter of PHH Corp., a groundbreaking litigation in mortgage origination and CFPB authorities. Before her government service, Ms. Auchterlonie was a regulatory litigation associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges where she worked on Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), FTC Act, and Sherman Antitrust Act matters and trials.

Ms. Auchterlonie grew up in a banking family. Her grandparents owned and operated a small-town bank in South Dakota, where they invested in their community and neighbors. With a background in both bank regulation and the business of lending, Ms. Auchterlonie provides unique insights and experiences to guide her clients through increasingly complex environments