Public Interest Law Firm (PILF)

Public Interest Law Firm (PILF) protects the human rights of individuals and groups in the Silicon Valley area who face barriers to adequate representation in the civil justice system, using impact litigation and advocacy.


National Payday Lending Regulation Would Save Californians Millions
But Regulation Still Needs To Be Strengthened

June 2, 2016 -- Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unveiled a proposal for a new national rule on payday and car title lending that has the potential to save California residents millions if changes are made before the rule is finalized, said Kyra Kazantzis, directing attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, a member agency of the Coalition Against Payday Predators (CAPP), based in Santa Clara County.

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed rule on payday lending is a good and well thought-out start to address the harm that legal loan sharks do in our community. But, the regulation must be strengthened to provide full protections for consumers from being trapped in the cycle of debt that payday loans create,” Kazantzis said.

Derecka Mehrens, executive director of Working Partnerships, a CAPP member agency, said, “Our strong local coalition that has worked tirelessly to get cities across Santa Clara County to restrict payday lending will be working hard over the next few months to help the CFPB and Congress understand the importance of closing loopholes in the proposed regulation.”

Payday loans with interest rates that average more than 400 percent drain over $700 billion in fees annually from the pockets of Californians who can least afford it, according to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending.

The business model of payday lenders is designed to trap borrowers in debt for years on end, extracting fees that quickly add up to far more than the amount borrowed.

CAPP and advocates throughout the nation have been advocating for a regulation that simply requires these lenders to do what any responsible lender does already—to determine whether a borrower is likely to be able to pay back the loan, without defaulting on basic necessities like rent and groceries, and without immediately taking out another loan.

While the CFPB rule does create such an affordability standard, the rule also allows for too many exemptions and leaves open too many loopholes for that standard to meaningfully reduce the harm of predatory lending. A more detailed analysis of what works and what doesn’t about the CFPB’s proposal is available here:

“We very much hope that the CFPB closes the remaining loopholes in its regulations. We see the devastating effects of payday loans on the most vulnerable populations. Our agency and other nonprofits provide cash assistance to low–income families, and such alternatives are much better solutions than payday lending for individuals in financial need,” said Marie Bernard, executive director of Sunnyvale Community Services, a CAPP member agency.

The CFPB will be seeking comments from the public until September 14, 2016, after which they will review before making the rule final in 2017. In the meantime, consumers are encouraged to comment and suggest changes to the final rule that will close loopholes and remove exemptions. Comments can be offered at

Facts about payday lending:

• Payday lending is a $50 billion industry. (Consumer Finance Protection Bureau)
• There are more payday lenders in the U.S. than McDonalds or Starbucks. (St. Louis Federal Reserve)
• In California, more than 12.1 million payday loans were made to more than 1.7 million borrowers for a total of more than $3.1 billion in 2013. (California Department of Business Oversight)
• Payday lending costs Californians an estimated $545 million a year in finance charges.

About Coalition Against Payday Predators (CAPP)

CAPP is a collaboration of community-based organizations (supported by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation) that fight the reckless financial practices of payday lenders through education and regulation. CAPP has already successfully advocated for restrictions of payday lending in Sunnyvale, San José, Gilroy, Los Altos, and Santa Clara County.

CAPP is a coalition of more than 40 local organizations led by the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, De-Bug, Asian Law Alliance, the Opportunity Fund, United Way Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale Community Services, West Valley Community Services, and Working Partnerships USA.

CAPP Statement on National Payday Lending Regulation Would Save Californians Millions.pdf

About Public Interest Law Firm

Public Interest Law Firm (PILF) protects the human rights of individuals and groups in the Silicon Valley area who face barriers to adequate representation in the civil justice system, using impact litigation and advocacy.

How PILF Helps

  • Strategically utilizing the most appropriate and effective advocacy tool emphasizing impact litigation and policy advocacy
  • Building alliances among other public interest organizations, community services agencies, and client groups to effect change
  • Leveraging the skills and resources of pro bono law firm co-counsel to provide high-quality representation in class action and impact litigation
  • Educational workshops and technical assistance for community groups, public officials, and staff at community-based organizations

PILF Works in the Following Issue Areas

  • Civil rights
  • Consumer protection
  • Disability access
  • Education and other youth rights
  • Fair housing and lending
  • Rights of individuals in institutions such as jails, juvenile detention facilities and acute and long-term care facilities
  • Voting rights
  • Policy practices
  • Open government

Federal Pro Se Program

PILF staffs the federal pro se assistance program at the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division.

PILF Client Stories

Ruth's and Kent's Story

Retired teachers Ruth and Kent were all but priced out of the housing market in San Jose, where the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is around $2,300 a month. Rather than leave their community of many years, they chose one of the few affordable housing options left—the Winchester Ranch Mobile Home Park. They settled into what they thought was their permanent retirement home, building new ties with their neighbors. Then one day, they learned that the park owner was threatening to sell and close down the park. Residents of the Park took action immediately. They formed a homeowners association, went public via the Internet and media, and invited local elected officials to visit the community they are trying to save. Attorneys at the Public Interest Law Firm (PILF) are diligently working alongside association members to ensure that residents’ due process rights are protected and that no stone is left unturned in the fight to keep the park open. PILF advocates for affordable housing through policy work and litigation. San Jose’s 59 mobile home parks provide a critical source of affordable housing, which is not subsidized by any federal or state program. About 8,000 of San Jose’s mobile home owners are classified as “low” or “extremely low” income. PILF and its clients have proposed a detailed plan to City of San Jose staff and leaders to preserve this form of affordable housing. PILF’s and the association’s efforts are beginning to pay off. The San Jose City Council recently voted 8-3 to prioritize studying amendments to the city’s Mobile Home Conversion Ordinance, with an eye to preserving mobile homes citywide.

Judy's Story

In conjunction with their colleagues from Fair Housing Legal Project, PILF joined forces with co-counsel (Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP) and recently reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit on behalf of California homeowners who were allegedly victimized by a network of scam artists. Judy Jones (pictured) was among those homeowners. In the alleged loan modification scam, Judy paid almost $4,000 for promised loan modification and loan audit services, backed by a “100% money back guarantee.” The defendants did essentially nothing to modify her loan, all the while telling her not to contact her lender directly or she would void her contract with them. The complaint alleged that the loan modification scam was operated by a Southern California attorney and a suspected front company, and that at least 90 other homeowners were victimized by the scam. The plaintiffs and the defendant attorney reached a settlement that resolved all claims for monetary damages, repayment of losses, improper business practices, and attorneys’ fees and costs related to the attorney and his firm. The case continues against the other defendants.


Nadia Aziz
Senior Attorney

Diana Castillo
Senior Attorney

Nuemi Guzman
Senior Legal Assistant

Kyra Kazantzis
Directing Attorney

Annette Kirkham
Senior Attorney

Kevin Knestrick
Senior Attorney

Teresa Magana
Senior Legal Assistant

Melissa Morris
Senior Attorney

Matthew Warren
Staff Attorney

Tom Zito
Senior Attorney


To reach PILF's intake line, call: (408) 280-2417

Click Here to Send E-Mail

To reach the Federal Pro Se Program office, call: (408) 297-1480