Meet Matthew J. Goldstein

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Posted on Tuesday, May 28th, 2024 at 3:27 pm    

Matthew J. Goldstein joined the Wallace Miller team as an attorney in January 2024. He focuses on class action, consumer protection, and antitrust litigation and recently argued an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in a case challenging predatory lending practices.

What initially drew you to the legal field? 

Well, my high school didn’t have a law club. And so, my friend Josh and I started a mock trial team, and I caught the bug. I thought to myself, this is what I want to do.  

Except for the time I wanted to be a firefighter when I was younger, I’ve never really wanted to do anything else. A lot of my role models growing up were lawyers, and I enjoy speaking, investigating, analyzing, and this is a career where I could do that. Putting these skills to use as an advocate for my clients is one of the great joys of my life.  

I’m also a big history buff, and a lot of important, interesting characters in American history are lawyers. And I don’t think that escaped me as a young kid—I think subconsciously, that was influential. 

What’s your favorite part about working in law? 

I really enjoy oral advocacy—making an argument to a jury or a judge—and the process of crafting hopefully persuasive arguments. I like litigation and I like being in a courtroom—I think it’s a privilege to litigate. And I take being in court seriously.  

I also appreciate having some autonomy in these spaces, which is why I gravitated towards plaintiff-side litigation, and, ultimately, Wallace Miller, which is very nurturing of me and my legal interests.  

And I like working with people. My job allows me to fight for my clients alongside a team of incredibly smart and innovative people—what’s not to like?  

What do you hope to achieve with the work you do? 

To change the law for the better. In recent cases I’ve worked on, three federal district judges—who are appointed by the President by the way—have found for my clients and ruled that certain consumer arbitration provisions were unenforceable for various reasons, including on grounds that the contracts were unconscionable under Illinois law and also unenforceable because they waived state and federal law. I wrote those briefs and argued in those cases, and now we’re making good law.  

The wins are important—and they need to be cherished, because, well, we don’t always win. That’s part of the reason why it’s important for me personally to be at a firm like Wallace Miller. When you’re on a good team, your defeats are tempered by the good people that you work with.  

You are currently working on litigation against a company called ZocaLoans that’s been making predatory loans at illegally high interest rates. Why is that case so important? 

In part because of the sheer number of people to whom these loans have been made. Just from 2018 to 2022, ZocaLoans made about 10,000 illegal loans to Illinois residents. About 300,000 to 350,000 loans were made nationwide during the same period.  

But many states, like Illinois, Virginia, and Maryland, have passed laws designed to protect consumers from predatory high-interest loans. They do this by imposing rate caps that prohibit a lender from making loans above a certain rate of interest. 

In Illinois, for example, a licensed lender cannot make a loan to a consumer at an interest rate over 36%—that’s the ceiling, the maximum they can charge. And if you’re not licensed, you can’t make a loan to a consumer at an interest rate exceeding 9%. And that’s high enough, you know?  So, the loans made by companies like ZocaLoans and Minto Money and many others, are made at interest rates of 500%, 600%, or even 700%, and they are all illegal in Illinois. Period. And for good reason: people get into a cycle of debt, a treadmill of debt, and it really perpetuates poverty. 

Private equity firms often fund and manage these operations even though they have buckets of money already, but they’re not satisfied. And that’s why they’ve branched out into these illegal spaces. The greed is overwhelming, clearly, as being involved at all risks damaging one’s reputation, of course, but also exposes these companies to tremendous civil liability.  

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has taken some action—in 2017, for example, they sued Think Finance for making illegal loans and some settlement checks went out recently. But most enforcement action comes from regular people bringing private suits.  Litigation like we do here, going after these companies, is one way to hold these bad actors accountable and keep them in check.  

What other cases are you working on? 

I’m working on a case with Ed Wallace and Mark Miller against Allstate Insurance Company, which is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Our clients are four Allstate Exclusive Agents who Allstate classified as independent contractors but treated as employees under California law. As a result, our clients were forced to pay for expenses that Allstate should have handled. We will move to certify the action as a class action in June. 

What advice would you like to offer clients? 

The same advice I would offer anyone—if you don’t know, ask. People’s instincts are usually right. I mean, if something stinks, there’s often something there. And that’s why we’re here—to take action, to help people, and to do what we can to set the strife in order.  

To learn more about Matt, check out his full bio here. 

Tell Us Your Story