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Overview

Elizabeth is among a select group of lawyers in private practice with a solid decade working in-house for Farm Credit lending institutions.

Lending to farms and agricultural concerns is a world of its own, and few lawyers understand that world with Elizabeth’s depth of knowledge and experience, having worked for both a funding bank and an association in the Farm Credit System. Elizabeth has spent more than 15 years as in-house counsel for major industry lenders, serving in a variety of roles, including General Counsel and Standards of Conduct Official. She has advised and counseled on substantially all legal matters for Farm Credit lending institutions, including custom loan documentation, loan origination systems, form development, loan reviews, regulations involving Farm Credit, banking, and consumer credit, corporate governance, litigation management, labor and employment matters, criminal referrals, and internal investigations. Elizabeth routinely provides training to all levels within the organization and is frequently asked to speak on a variety of topics, including Borrower Rights and distressed lending, criminal referrals, standards of conduct, ECOA, TILA, RESPA, TRID, FCRA, HMDA, flood insurance, the Military Lending Act, and data privacy. She has served as a member of executive management and frequently interacts with the regulator on behalf of her clients. Elizabeth prepares policies and procedures for all federal and state regulatory compliance for commercial and consumer lending and also advises throughout examinations and audits.

All in all, Elizabeth’s close working relationships with Boards, senior management, and business unit heads has instilled in her a very practical mindset in approaching legal challenges. Her experience at both ends of the credit cycle, with changes in economy and other factors that affect agricultural lending, and with the evolution of public policy enables Elizabeth to provide legal advice that unlocks value and manages risk.


Industries

Services

Education

  • J.D., Widener University School of Law
  • M.A., University of London, Royal Holloway and Bedford New College
  • B.A., University of Delaware

Admissions

  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Delaware

Not admitted to practice in Texas.

Professional Memberships and Certifications

  • American Bar Association, National Compliance School
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • South Carolina Bar
  • Delaware State Bar Association


*Elizabeth works remotely in North Carolina. For a virtual or in-person meeting, please contact Elizabeth via email or phone. For mail or other deliveries, please use the firm's Austin office address: 111 Congress Avenue, Suite 1400, Austin, TX 78701.
Experience

Corporate Governance

  • Advised banks, lending institutions, farm credits systems and associations regarding corporate resolutions and board committee charters.
  • Reviewed and drafted corporate bylaws in compliance with Farm Credit Administration (FCA), federal and state regulations.
  • Reviewed and advised on FCA regulations governing committees and director elections.

Proactive Compliance and Risk Management

  • Designed, maintained and updated compliance manuals, disclosures, policies and procedures while monitoring evolving federal and state regulations for commercial and consumer lending.
  • Managed association compliance department ensuring all policies and procedures, consumer disclosures, servicing and processes comply with Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing (SAFE) Act, and Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) among other FCA and applicable federal lending regulations.
  • Provide compliance training to bank and association staff, including national Farm Credit Compliance (FCC) Conference.
  • Supported operations staff in drafting of borrower communications and marketing materials.

Examination, Litigation and Incident Management

  • Guided banks and other lending institutions through FCA examination review and response.
  • Navigated investigations, resolutions and filings of alleged criminal claims.
  • Navigated subpoena responses.
  • Counseled on preparation and response to data privacy, cybersecurity and data breach.
  • Collaborated on bank comment letters to regulators and summarized final rules for distribution to bank and associations.

Contracts, Lending Forms and Systems

  • Designed standard forms for use in day-to-day streamlined business operations that comply with applicable legal standards and requirements.
  • Advised business analysts on loan origination and loan servicing systems to comply with applicable regulations.
  • Drafted, reviewed and revised service contracts for vendors as well as internal form legal documents for loan transactions.
  • Drafted, reviewed and negotiated loan documents for transactions or standard document development.

Contracts, Lending Forms and Systems

  • Reviewed transactions regarding compliance with FCA regulations regarding system institutions limitations on types of loans and borrowers permitted.
  • Reviewed loan origination systems with emphasis on farm credit challenges.

Borrower Rights

  • Reviewed loss mitigation, originating loan and disclosure regulations and requirements of farm credit lending institutions regarding the treatment of loan applications and loan servicing.
Media Mentions | August 24, 2020
Kansas City Business Journal: Virtual Husch Blackwell office attracts first attorney outside firm's footprint

"This is just a great concept and I hope more firms embrace this sort of thing," Benefield said. "It gives me an opportunity to join a law firm as reputable and amazing as Husch Blackwell without having to pick up and move my family across the country to one of their offices."

Outside the Office

Elizabeth enjoys camping, hiking, baseball and hockey.

Elizabeth and her husband follow rival hockey teams: she the Philadelphia Flyers, he the Pittsburgh Penguins. The couple hosted 60 friends at their Las Vegas nuptials, where the Golden Knights defeated the Penguins on the ice. Elizabeth has also visited two thirds of Major League ballparks. And South Carolina’s Table Rock State Park is a favorite hiking destination

Community Leadership

Elizabeth maintains an active pro bono practice, regularly dedicating her time and talents to improving the lives of individuals in need and assisting nonprofit organizations so they can help others.

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