Financial services attorney Walter Zalenski att name

"An outstanding lawyer; the guy who had all the history of why and when regulations were put in place. His knowledge is amazing."

Chambers USA

Walter E. Zalenski


  • p. 202.461.2910
  • f. 202.349.8080


Walter Zalenski is a partner in the Washington, DC, and New York, NY, offices of BuckleySandler. With more than 25 years of private practice experience, Mr. Zalenski advises banks and other financial institutions, specialty lenders, retail installment lenders, private equity firms, and other entities on bank regulatory and consumer finance issues, corporate and transactional matters, and related issues.

Mr. Zalenski has an active corporate practice and regularly provides counseling in connection with financial services mergers and acquisitions. Most recently, he has focused on assisting private equity sponsors and strategic buyers in acquisitions of bank and non-bank financial services firms, providing regulatory and transactional advice to identify and mitigate risk, and assisting buyers in obtaining regulatory approvals where necessary. Recent representative matters include acquisitions of targets engaged in payment processing and payment systems, automobile finance, credit reporting, payday lending, and money transmitting.

Mr. Zalenski’s counseling and compliance practice encompasses issues related to bank powers, regulatory applications (including change of control consents, retail banking, consumer finance, including credit cards, auto finance, retail installment credit, and mortgage credit), debt collection, electronic finance, payment systems, and anti-money laundering. Similarly, he represents financial service providers in connection with fair lending and other enforcement actions by regulatory agencies, including CFPB, DOJ, FTC, and HUD. He represents consumer lenders in connection with class action litigation involving claims under federal and state consumer credit protection legislation, including claims of unfair and deceptive acts and practices. Representative litigations include UDAP claims involving payment card currency conversion practices, ECOA and FHA pricing claims against a mortgage company, ECOA pricing claims against a captive auto finance company, usury claims of various types, and claims under the prescreening, truncation, and employment-purpose provisions of the FCRA. He also has significant experience in connection with litigations, including against the FDIC, arising from bank failures.

Mr. Zalenski lectures and writes on a wide variety of issues such as electronic finance, privacy laws, payment systems, Truth in Lending, fair lending laws, arbitration clauses, bank interstate expansion, RESPA, home equity lines of credit, assignee liability, asset-based financing, preemption of state law, lender liability, loan participations, and the impact of tax policy on consumer credit.

Mr. Zalenski is a Fellow of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers, a member of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Consumer Financial Services (past chair of its Real Estate Finance Subcommittee) and has served as a member of the New York City Bar’s Banking Law Committee. Since 2008, Mr. Zalenski has been ranked in the top tier for his work in the area of Financial Services Regulation by Chambers USA. Clients noted that he is "an outstanding lawyer; the guy who had all the history of why and when the regulations were put in place. His knowledge is amazing." He was also recognized with the firm's Financial Services: Regulatory in Legal 500 (2016). He also has been named a "Leading" Lawyer by IFLR1000 for Financial Services Regulatory in the US.


Behavioral Science for Incentive Compensation Reviews
Law360, November 3, 2016

Why the Bailout Prevention Act May Be Unwise
Law360, May 27, 2015

The Dodd-Frank Act: Two Years Later
The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, October 10, 2012

The Double-Barreled Regulatory Assault on Retail Banking
Bank Director, March 28, 2012

Defending and Managing an Investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Part II)
Consumer Financial Services Law Report, September 22, 2011

CFPB Issues Investigation Rules, Underscoring Enforcement Role (Part I)
Consumer Financial Services Law Report, September 8, 2011

The FDIC Budges – A Little
Private Equity Alert, September 3, 2009

The Uncertain Intersection: Section 301 of the CARD Act of 2009 and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act
Consumer Financial Services Law Report, September 2, 2009

FDIC Proposes Guidelines for Private Equity Investments in Failed Banks
Private Equity Alert, July 2009

Administration Proposes Financial Regulatory Reform
Private Equity Alert, June 2009

A Modest Proposal by the Fed
Private Equity Alert, September 2008

Survey of Significant Consumer Privacy Litigation in the United States in 2007
The Business Lawyer, February 2008

Navigating Scylla and Charybdis: an Analysis of Retailer Issued Gift Cards and Money Transmitter Regulation
Journal of Payment Systems Law, June 2007

Countrywide Enters into Fair Lending Settlement with the New York State Attorney General
Consumer Financial Law Services Report, December 27, 2006

RESPA: The Changing Landscape
The Business Lawyer, May 2003

Offer of Maximum Relief Moots Class Action Against Debt Collector
Consumer Financial Services Law Report, October 11, 2002

Credit Card Issuers Must Explain Impact of Minimum Payments on Interest Balance
Consumer Financial Services Law Report, December 2001

Creditors Take Notice of Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940
Consumer Financial Services Law Report, November 29, 2001

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and Regulations:  The New Centerpiece of Federal Financial Privacy Protection, Ch. III.B of Consumer Financial Privacy
LRP Publications, 2000

Determining the Finance Charge, Ch. 3 of Rohner & Miller Truth in Lending
American Bar Association, 2000

Restitution Redux: The TILA Reimbursement Rules After the Rodash Amendment
ABA Bank Compliance, March/April 1998

Mortgage Loan Prequalification Programs
ABA Bank Compliance, September/October 1996

The Promise of Arbitration in Retail Banking
ABA Bank Compliance, Summer 1993

Asset-Based Financing: A Transaction Guide, Chapter 18
Matthew Bender, 1985-1992

Interstate Expansion by Purchasing Minimum Asset Bank Charters
Banking Expansion Reporter, February 4, 1991

Curing TIL Violations
ABA Bank Compliance, Winter 1989

Common Law Lender Liability
ABA Bank Compliance, Spring 1988

Home Equity Lending Manual
American Bankers Association, 1987

The Impact of Tax Reform on Consumer Credit
Banking Expansion Reporter, August 18, 1986

The Bank as Assignee of Consumer Loans
ABA Bank Compliance, Fall 1986

Contaminated Collateral and Banks’ Environmental Liabilities
American Bankers Association, 1986

In The News

Awards & Recognition

  • Legal 500 2016: Recognized in the Financial Services - Regulatory practice area
  • Super Lawyers 2016: Banking and Consumer Law
  • Super Lawyers 2015: Banking and Consumer Law
  • Super Lawyers 2014, Banking and Consumer Law
  • Chambers USA 2008-2016: Band 1, Financial Services Regulation: Consumer Finance (Compliance)
  • IFLR 1000 2012-2013: "Leading" Lawyer for Bank Lending and Financial Services Regulatory

Significant Representations

  • Represented Washington Mutual Inc (WMI) in connection with various litigation and regulatory matters arising from the seizure of Washington Mutual Bank and WMI’s Chapter 11 case.
  • Advised Advent International in the $1.811 billion acquisition of a 51% stake in the processing solutions business of Fifth Third Bancorp through the establishment of a joint venture that values the new company, Fifth Third Processing Solutions, LLC, at approximately $2.35 billion.
  • Advised Advent International and Bain Capital in connection with their $2.7 billion acquisition of Worldpay, the global merchant services and payment processing division of Royal bank of Scotland and one of the world’s largest payment processors.
  • Advised Advent International in its apx. $3 billion acquisition, along with and GS Capital Partners VI Fund, of TransUnion, one of the nation’s three largest consumer reporting agencies.
  • Represented Vantiv (formerly Fifth Third Processing Solutions) in its IPO of Class A common share and in several follow-on offerings.
  • Successfully defended against a claim that an email confirmation sent to customers following their on-line purchase violated Section 113 of the FACT Act. The result was a groundbreaking opinion that Section 113 does not apply to electron transactions.
  • Advised Thomas H. Lee partners in is acquisition and comprehensive recapitalizations of MoneyGram, the nation’s second largest money transmitter.
  • Defended GE Money Bank against a claim arising out of a “prescreened” offer for a line of credit, which plaintiff contended was not a “firm offer of credit” under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The court dismissed the complaint on the pleadings on the grounds that the FCRA does not require disclosure of the particular terms at issue, and the letter offer, on its face, had actual value.
  • Advised General Motors Co. in its $4.2 billion acquisition of Ally Financial Inc.’s international automobile finance business.
  • Advised Culpeper Capital Partners and Fortress Investment Group in connection with their acquisition of Security National Automotive Acceptance Corporation.
  • Advised Macquarie Capital in connection with its investment in PLS Group, a transaction subject to a variety of licensing and regulatory requirements in connection with the target company’s payday loan, title loan, check cashing, prepaid card and money transmitter businesses.
  • Represented Technology Crossover Ventures in connection with a minority investment in Green Dot Corporation, a leading prepaid financial services company, and in connection with Green Dot’s acquisition of Bonneville Bancorp.
  • Advised THL Partners and Fidelity National Financial, Inc. in connection with their $5.3 billion public-to-private acquisition of Ceridian Corporation.
  • Served as Special Counsel to Shawmut National Corporation responsible for mortgage banking, fair lending, and retail banking compliance.
  • Represented GE Capital in its acquisition of the credit card receivables of Chevron USA Inc. and Chevron Bank NA.
  • Advised American International Group/Sale of an 80% stake in American General Finance.
  • Advised GE Capital in its purchase of approximately $2.7 billion of asset of the private label credit card, consumer installment loans and home improve.