Collector - August 2017 - 48
Chad Echols' experience volunteering with ACA's Attorney State Chair Program-a new and improved version of the
MAP State Compliance Chair Program-helps build his career and members' businesses.
By Katy Zillmer
hen the phone rings at Chad
Echols' South Carolina-based
law firm, it may be a call from
a client or a fellow ACA International
member seeking his input on a legal
For more than a decade, Echols served as
a Members Attorney Program State Chair
for South Carolina and currently volunteers
with the new and improved version of this
program, now known as the Attorney State
Rebranded in 2016, the Attorney State
Chair Program provides ACA units and their
members with access to an attorney licensed
to practice law in their state. These attorneys
have volunteered to take calls and make
themselves available as legal resources and
referral attorneys, as their schedules permit.
The Attorney State Chair Program was
created based on recommended changes to
the MAP State Compliance Chair Program
to ensure the chairpersons are an integral
part of the unit.
Echols said he learns a lot talking to
members about their legal questions.
"It's a very enjoyable part of my role in
assisting the industry," he said.
Echols also serves as the South Carolina
State Legislative Chair and, before forming
The Echols Firm, LLC, he worked as an
attorney at Hamilton, Martens & Ballou, LLC.
He started his career in the collection industry
as vice president and general counsel at ACA
member company Williams & Fudge Inc.,
where he remains outside general counsel.
He regularly connects with members in
South Carolina and others from around the
country with licenses to collect in the state.
They often have questions about
regulatory issues and litigation compliance.
Thanks to his career experience and
longtime involvement with ACA, Echols is
able to provide insight into these issues that
members can use to implement changes at
"Hopefully ACA members can get context
to a compliance problem or litigation
trend that is out there," Echols said. "Letter
litigation is a good example. An ACA
member may have done something with a
letter a few years ago that was compliant at
that time, but has not changed or updated
the letter because a new or developing issue
has not been litigated against them. When
a problem crops up, I advise the agency to
look at other things that are trending, so they
can bring policies and processes up to date."
Echols also helps members understand
current litigation trends.
"I think for many agencies they are
standing in the woods where they can smell
the smoke, but they don't know where the
fire is coming from," he said. "As a volunteer
and attorney with experience in multiple
kinds of cases and litigation, you can see
those trends and help members understand
why certain cases are progressing or assist
the agency so they can clarify a specific legal
problem or national trend."
The program chairs serve a crucial
role as a liaison between ACA and the
affiliated state and regional unit members,
helping to strengthen relationships and
partnerships between attorneys and their
"I think one way we assist is to help unit
members gauge how big a problem they're
facing actually is, so they can decide the
proper next steps," Echols said. "Agencies
with a small litigation portfolio view new
litigation as a very big problem. Sometimes it
is a big problem. Other times, my experience
can provide them confidence the matter is
simply a nuisance."
Echols said volunteering with the
Attorney State Chair Program helps him
stay connected with fellow members and the
"The collection industry is big business,
but it's a 'small industry' because people
know each other," he said. "I have developed
friendships and business relationships
by being able to volunteer. I enjoy the
camaraderie of ACA and working with other
lawyers across the country who are assisting
members. Being able to understand what's
going on in the national landscape helps
everyone in the local unit."
For more information on ACA's Attorney State
Chair Program, visit www.acainternational.