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The Attorney On Your Side

Seldom do I use this space to articulate the virtues of an individual associated with the retail automotive business, but this is one of those occasions that I feel it is more than merited.  I assure you that this person has not put me up to this, nor is the magazine filling its coffers in any way from this.  I just feel it is important for the dealer community to recognize a person that has not only dedicated the better part of his career in aiding dealers, but can help them be proactive.

The person I‘m referring to is none other than Thomas B. Hudson, Esq., of Hudson and Cook fame.  I have known him and his wife, Lily Grace, for nearly 10 years. 

I first met him manning his booth at various conferences and trade shows I was attending as a dealer.  Later, he became a frequent chat session speaker and then writer for our Web site and magazine and spoke to several of the twenty groups I moderated.  I have had the pleasure of dining with him many times over the years, as well as sitting with him while flying cross-country to one of our many common destinations.  I have cherished every occasion and always taken away far more knowledge than I came with.

You see, Tom Hudson is a terrific friend of the industry.  He is on our side.  He has specialized in the area of consumer law, specifically relating to automotive and real estate credit transactions.  He is one of the foremost experts on the Truth-in-Lending Act, the Retail Installment Financing and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Privacy Act, along with associated issues involving the safeguarding of customer information.  The bottom line is that if it involves selling motor vehicles, financing motor vehicles or advertising motor vehicles, he is at the top of the list of attorneys to consult on the matter.  They don’t get any better.

Additionally, he makes law easy to understand.  Not that many of us look to sit around and dissect laws and regulations, but he puts it into language that we can understand.  He uses his dry southern humor to politely say, “Don’t do that, or else!”  He also produces a publication called “Spot Delivery” from his company LLC.  It is monthly newsletter that highlights recent and important court decisions that impact dealers, as well as other noteworthy regulatory items. 

Hudson doesn’t dodge questions. He gives you straight answers you can understand.  He will be the first to admit when he comes across a question he isn’t comfortable with, and he’ll say, “That isn’t my area of practice – I think you had better ask someone else.”

Finally, unlike most attorneys I know, he isn’t afraid to publicly admit when he makes a mistake.  In a recent addition of Spot Delivery, he penned a complete article in a self-effacing manner, correcting three informational errors he made in 2006.  Many readers would have never noticed the errors if he hadn’t.

I believe all this is important to dealers for a couple of reasons.  First, Hudson absolutely doesn’t go around trolling for law suits.  He is an advocate of dealer pro-activity, an oxymoron if there ever was one.

Every time dealers sell vehicles, they undertake a certain level of liability.  You want to have your “I”s dotted and “T”s crossed.  You want your sale documents to read the way you think they do.  You want your sales and finance teams to make sure they’re on the right side of all legal requirements and compliance issues.  That isn’t always easy. 

Ignorance of the law is a losing defense.  The only way to avoid ignorance is to continually train your team.  Hudson would rather help you understand law to make compliance simpler.  His approach is to help you avoid calamities, which regrettably in our industry happen quite often. 

This brings me full circle in this article to the book.  It is called “CARLAW F&I Legal Desk Book.”  It should be on the desk of every F&I manager, dealer and many industry vendors in the country, as it covers Federal Advertising Rules, along with Reg M and Reg Z.  These are areas that Attorneys General around the country have been having a heyday with in recent months.  If you are in one of the above categories and don’t have this book, you are crazy.  It is the best $50 you will spend.

His first book, simply titled “CARLAW” is a collection of humorous articles with practical legal advice on car sales and financing. It too, is $50 well spent.

Finally, when you see Tom Hudson (or any of his outstanding team) at a convention or conference, stop by and say hello.  Rest assured you will feel it is time well spent, and it will confirm that you truly have someone in your corner.

Vol 4, Issue 3



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