Valerie L. Hletko
Valerie L. Hletko is a partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP. An accomplished and commercially-minded litigator, her practice has a particular emphasis on financial services regulation and enforcement. Valerie counsels clients across a wide range of institutions as they navigate an increasingly complex and interrelated set of state, federal, and global legal and regulatory challenges.
Valerie has established herself as an authority in the field of financial services litigation, in addition to handling investigations and enforcement actions initiated by state regulators, state attorneys general, and federal agencies. Chambers USA has recognized her as “an exceptionally brilliant litigator with a robust grounding in consumer protection laws” in naming her to their list of leading Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Litigation) attorneys. Chambers similarly identified Valerie as “a brilliant lawyer with an unwavering work ethic who understands that the client's overall business is as important, if not more so, than the thorny regulatory issues which may confront it.” In Chambers’ analysis, one client noted that “Valerie’s writing is persuasive and impactful, and her legal acumen is unbelievable. If I could only have one lawyer for the rest of my career, it would be her.”
Valerie represents a variety of financial services industry participants in complex civil litigation, as well as in investigations and administrative enforcement actions initiated by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Reserve Board (FRB), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and state bank regulatory agencies and state Attorneys General. She has assisted clients with pre-enforcement matters relating to a broad array of consumer financial products and services, including responding to Proposed Action and Request for Response (PARR) letters, Notice and Opportunity to Respond and Advise (NORA) letters, and managing issues relating to self-disclosure.
Valerie also counsels clients in connection with regulatory examinations and governance and risk management matters implicated by consumer financial laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), the Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA), the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and related state laws, the Military Lending Act (MLA), and prohibitions on unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices in Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act: Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices (UDAP) and Section 1036 of the Consumer Financial Protection Act: Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices (UDAAP). Valerie further advises clients on a variety of issues that touch the financial services industry, including arbitration and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Valerie’s recent representations include:
- HSBC in lawsuits filed in the Northern District of Georgia and the Northern District of Illinois by municipalities alleging violations of the FHA arising out of the foreclosure crisis
- Guaranteed Rate, Inc. in an investigation and settlement with the DOJ and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York relating to alleged violations of the False Claims Act and Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act in connection with the origination of mortgages insured by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs
- Avant in a lawsuit filed by the Administrator of the Colorado Uniform Consumer Credit Code challenging federal preemption under Section 27 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act and the valid-when-made rule, which resulted in a landmark settlement establishing a safe harbor for the fintech-bank partnership model
- Nonbank mortgage servicer in multiple class actions relating to post-default inspection fees, resulting in dismissal
- Bank in a lawsuit relating to agent fees for loans issued by the Small Business Administration under the Paycheck Protection Program
- Sterling Jewelers Inc. in a CFPB and New York Attorney General investigation alleging TILA and UDAAP violations relating to the offering of in-store credit card accounts, and in class action litigation following issuance of the consent order
- General Information Services in a CFPB enforcement action alleging violations of the FCRA
- National bank in a settlement with the DOJ over alleged violations of the SCRA relating to automobile repossessions
- Industrial bank in connection with a fair lending referral to the DOJ, which was sent back to the FDIC
- Multiple nonbank mortgage lenders in CFPB investigations resulting in closing notices
- National bank in a HUD investigation of alleged violations of the FHA in connection with underwriting practices resulting in a closure letter
- Multiple industry participants in investigations by the New York Department of Financial Services relating to advertising on social media and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions relating to licensable activity
- Nonbank mortgage lender in contractual dispute relating to the purchase of mortgage loans pursuant to the terms of a monitorship
- Multiple industry participants in preparing for, completing, and responding to findings resulting from supervisory examinations
Valerie’s status as an acknowledged authority in her field has been recognized in her “Band 2” ranking by Chambers USA for Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Litigation), recognition as a “Next Generation Partner” by The Legal 500 US for Financial Services: Litigation, and consistent inclusion by Super Lawyers in their lists of top lawyers in Consumer Law, Civil Litigation: Defense, and Banking. She frequently speaks and publishes on a range of subjects of interest to financial institutions, including fintech, fair and responsible banking practices, specialty finance, and regulatory enforcement trends. In 2017, Valerie coauthored the “Fair Lending Litigation” chapter of the Litigation Services Handbook: The Role of the Financial Expert.
Valerie is active in the American Bar Association, where she serves as Co-Chair of the Compliance, Exam, and Audit Law Subcommittee of the Banking Law Committee. She is also a member of the Out in Law Leadership Committee, and a Trustee for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
Valerie joined the firm from the Washington D.C. and Chicago offices of Buckley LLP, having joined Buckley at its inception in 2009. She began her career as an associate with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. She holds a J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School, an M.T.S. from Harvard University, and a B.A. from Kenyon College.