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Vaishali Rao focuses her practice in two primary areas: first, defending companies in regulatory investigations and litigation brought by governmental bodies; second, compliance counseling related to statutes intended to protect consumers. She has advised a range of financial institutions—small and large banks, online lenders, and fintech businesses—on these issues and also maintains strong relationships with Illinois banking regulators.

Regulatory Investigation & Enforcement. Vaishali has defended companies facing inquiries, requests for information, subpoenas, civil investigative demands, supervisory examinations, or lawsuits brought by government entities like state attorneys general, state and municipal regulators, state banking examiners, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the U.S. Department of Justice.

She has extensive experience resolving complex unfair and deceptive trade practice cases either through litigation or negotiated settlements. She is also skilled in the drafting and implementation of agreements or court orders requiring substantial business reform.

Compliance Counseling. Vaishali has helped companies identify and manage risk by counseling them through issues intersecting with consumer protection, including the: Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), state telemarketing laws, federal and state privacy requirements—including Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA)—data breach management, student loan licensing, and other state law requirements.

As a complement to risk management, Vaishali drafts opinion letters, and seeks formal or informal interpretative opinions from government agencies.

Prior to joining Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Vaishali served as a supervising attorney in the Consumer Fraud Bureau of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. During her tenure, she frequently led multi-state investigations and litigation related to advertising, marketing, and promotion on diverse topics such as:

  • Higher education financing (enforcement, education, and policy)
  • Financial crisis cases into mortgage origination, fair lending, servicing, and securitization (including contributing to negotiations in the National Foreclosure Settlement and leading multi-district litigation against the credit rating agencies)
  • Debt collection and settlement
  • Small dollar, unsecured loan products
  • Pharmaceutical and health care products, drugs and medical devices.

As Assistant Counsel in the Illinois House of Representatives, Vaishali assisted in the impeachment trial of former Illinois Governor, Rod R. Blagojevich. She also managed and analyzed legal issues for members of the House of Representatives, including assisting them with presentation and defense of bills on the House floor and in Committee.

Vaishali has served in a series of clerkships in both the public and private sectors in Chicago and New York, and was a chancery judicial extern to The Honorable Jesse G. Reyes, Circuit Court of Cook County (now an Appellate Judge, First District, 5th Division.)

Professional Affiliations

Honors & Awards

  • Named to the "40 Under Forty" list by Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and Chicago Law Magazine, 2019

Representative Matters

Regulatory and Enforcement

  • Representation of debt collection companies in investigations into unfair, deceptive trade practices led by the Illinois Attorney General and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Resolved negotiation impasse of an investigation into a real estate title company by a state Department of Financial Services related to licensing and registration.
  • Defense of debt collection company in state Department of Banking agency allegations that it engaged in unlicensed collection of consumer debts.
  • Obtained favorable opinion letter from California Department of Business Oversight related to exemption from regulation relating to obtaining student loan servicing license.
  • Representation of a government vendor in false claims investigation relating to billing practices brought by the California Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Defense of electric and gas suppliers in consumer fraud investigations or litigation, including "do not call" or robocall cases, brought by state attorneys general, including: Illinois, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Favorably negotiated multiple settlements to a fraction of the amounts claimed, lowering what was initially multimillion dollar exposure.
  • Responded to subpoena from NYC Department of Consumer Affairs on Limited English Proficiency on behalf of a debt collection company.
  • Coordinated collection agencies' response to data breach, including notification to consumers and regulators.
  • Represented multiple retail energy or gas suppliers, and solar entities with issues relating to licensing or business operations in front of Illinois Commerce Commission.

Compliance

  • Counseled lender on developing disclosures and compliance structures for private student loan product.
  • Assisted financial service providers with TCPA compliance, including drafting of express written consent language, significantly reducing litigation exposure.
  • Assist fintech company with launch of mortgage lead generation product by assessing legal risk and compliance needs.
  • Counseled small-dollar lenders through licensing and examination in multiple states, including drafting of consumer disclosures.
  • Assisted mortgage insurance company with drafting terms and conditions for website, privacy policies and notices.
  • Assisted mortgage insurance company with California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) implementation.
  • Represented rent-to-own company with licensing requirements.

 Prior Public Service Contributions

  • Contributed to negotiations in National Mortgage Settlement (represented the People through Illinois Attorney General).
  • Led multi-state consumer fraud investigations into lenders, servicers, and collectors.
  • Led the national attorneys general Health Fraud Working Group.
  • Led People of the State of Illinois v. The McGraw-Hill Companies & Standard & Poor's litigation relating to credit ratings issued during financial crisis (represented the People through Illinois Attorney General).

Presentations

  • Panelist, "Financial and Legal Advice to Help Your Business Navigate the 'New Normal,'" Crain's Chicago Business Content Studio, Webinar, June 25, 2020
  • Co-Presenter, "State Student Loan Servicing Laws," National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) Fall Legal Meeting, Cleveland, Ohio, October 3, 2019
  • Co-Presenter, "Hot Topics & Trends in Mortgage Servicing 2019," CLE Client Program, June 11, 2019
  • "Compliance Essentials/CMCP Session: Introduction to Regulatory Compliance," MBA's Regulatory Compliance Conference, Los Angeles, California, April 29, 2018
  • "What's Certain in Uncertain Times? Implications on Consumer Finance in Trump's first 173 days," Hinshaw University, Chicago, Illinois, July 2017
  • "Fair Lending & Fair Servicing Developments in Student Loans," NCHER, Alexandria, Virginia, July 2017
  • "Regulatory Round-Up" Part I: State Efforts Impacting Student Loan Servicing and Collections," NCHER Spring Convention, Clearwater Beach, Florida, June 7, 2017
  • "Student Loans: The Next Financial Crisis?," CBA Consumer Law Committee, Chicago, Illinois, April 2014
  • "National Foreclosure and Mortgage Servicing Settlement," Chicago Bar Association, Legal Aid Committee, Chicago, Illinois, March 2013
  • "National Foreclosure and Mortgage Servicing Settlement," City of Chicago City Council, Chicago, Illinois, June 2012
  • Keynote Speaker, American Conference Institute, Food and Drug Policy, Chicago, Illinois, December 2011
  • "Mortgage Rescue Fraud in Application," National Consumer Law Center, November 2011
  • "Fraud: The Attorney Model," National Organization of Bar Examiners, October 2011

Publications

Media Mentions

Blog Posts

Community/Civic Activities

  • Vaishali co-founded SAPNA Magazine, an e-zine for South Asian American women. She served as the magazine's Strategy Director for six years.
  • She was the Founder and first Chair of The John Marshall Law School's Diversity Affairs Committee.

J.D., The John Marshall Law School, 2008

B.S., magna cum laude, University of Pittsburgh, 2005

B.A., magna cum laude, University of Pittsburgh, 2005