CHICAGO – The first meeting of the CUNA Attorneys Conference to be held in the summer drew 127 lawyers who represent credit unions to the Windy City. That’s more, quipped CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard, than the conference probably would have drawn if it were held here in the fall as the conference usually is. Although the two-and-a-half day conference, held June 9-11 at the Chicago Hotel Inter-Continental covered a lot of legal technical ground such as ethics, human resources law, and negotiating and drafting contracts, Richard said the focus of this year’s meeting was Small Business Administration lending and member business loans. “The attorneys who come to the conference tend to be a very diverse group. Some are interested in big picture items like the bank attacks, other attendees are more technical. So we try to present a mix,” Richard said, noting that the conference is meant to be an educational event. Among this year’s speakers was David Javdan, Office of the General Counsel for the SBA. Appointed by President Bush, Javdan has been with the SBA for about a year, and he was instrumental in convincing the SBA to change its policy to allow all credit unions to make SBA 7(a) loans. Speaking to attendees, Javdan stressed that the SBA wants to remove any obstacles preventing credit unions from making SBA loans, and he urged conferees to encourage their credit unions to get involved with making loans to small businesses. “Javdan believed the legal basis for not allowing all credit unions to make SBA loans was unsound,” Richard said. “Moreover, he didn’t believe that allowing faith-based credit unions to make SBA loans would be discriminatory, as some people said it would.” A panel discussion was also held on making SBA loans. Among the other featured speakers were William Langford, senior advisor to the General Counsel, U.S. Treasury, who spoke on the U.S. Patriot Act; Prassana Mahadeva and William O’Connor from Buchanan Ingersoll Professional Corp., N.Y. who offered what Richard described as a “street level perspective” on member business lending; NCUA General Counsel Bob Fenner and Associate General Counsel Sheila Albin who spoke on compliance and regulatory issues; and NACUSO General Counsel Guy Messick of the law firm Lastowka & Messick who spoke on CUSO governance issues. Richard said in planning the annual conference, CUNA prefers to alternate holding the event at different sites around the country so it’s convenient to all attorneys. Last year’s meeting was held in Hilton Head Island, N.C., and the year before that it was held in the Bahamas just in time for Hurricane Michelle to touch down there. Next year’s conference will probably be held on the West coast, said Richard. -

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