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INFLUENTIAL APPELLATE

Greer Lang, partner, Lathrop & Gage, Kansas City

Greer Lang has gotten to know the U.S. Supreme Court better following the high court’s decision to review her client’s case.

Every morning, the Lathrop & Gage attorney listens to oral arguments in other Supreme Court cases on her commute to Kansas City.

“I feel like I recognize everybody’s voice now, I think I can tell their personalities better, it gives you some insight,” she said. “And now it’s just habit.”

Lang is lead counsel for the bank respondent in Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore, a case argued before the court in October. It centers on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, or ECOA, and a Federal Reserve regulation that bars lenders from requiring spousal guarantees.

“What the U.S. Supreme Court is going to decide is the validity of Regulation B and specifically, the regulators’ attempt, contrary to the statute, to redefine an applicant to encompass guarantors,” Lang said.

She said that puts guarantors in a position where they can bring claims that Congress only gave to the applicant through ECOA.

The court has yet to rule on the case, but their opinion could potentially affect every lending or credit-related institution in the U.S.

Lang said one of the first decisions she and her client faced was whether to argue the case herself. She ultimately partnered with Stephen McAllister, a former dean of the University of Kansas School of Law who clerked for Justices Byron White and Clarence Thomas.

The two knew each other, and Lang said McAllister brought key experience with the Supreme Court to their partnership. Lang retained the lead counsel role, with McAllister presenting oral arguments. The two collaborated on the case brief.

Lang

Kansas City Attorney Greer Lang is one of the Influential Appellate Advocates of 2015. Photo by Karen Elshout

She said one assumption she’d seen from others was that she would argue the case before the court.

“This is about winning, it’s not about my big day in the Supreme Court,” she said. “There’s a lot at stake in the case and we’ve been litigating for a long time.”

She said she was initially overwhelmed by the process. She said she also viewed the court taking up the case as a loss, noting the 8th Circuit decision would have been in her client’s favor.

“My perspective of it I think is different than most people’s because the immediate reaction from a lot of people is, ‘Oh, cool, you’re going to the Supreme Court,’ and I was like, ‘I lost. This is not a cool thing.’”

Still, she said the experience was good.

Although it was her first case to reach the Supreme Court, she said she’s followed other cases through the appeals process to positive results for her clients.

One of her longest running cases, in Kansas, was when she fought for the vacation of a dirt road. The process took her 10 years, including two appearances at the Kansas Court of Appeals before the matter was reviewed by the Kansas Supreme Court.

Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of her client.

“I had a client who was willing to pay and I finally won,” she said.