In the evolving environment of prepaid, few attorneys have acquired the all-around expertise to help their clients navigate the complexities of the laws and regulations that apply to prepaid products. Margo Hirsch Strahlberg is one of those few.
An attorney at Bryan Cave LLP in Chicago, Strahlberg, 34, holds the distinction of influencing and molding an industry under legislative scrutiny. From prepaid leaders to startups, Strahlberg guides her clients through legal waters involving prepaid-related consumer protection, state abandoned property and money transmitter licensing concerns. She surveys laws in permitted prepaid fees and expiration dates, structures special purpose gift card entities and tailors the terms and conditions for prepaid products on the verge of being launched.
She also seeks opportunities to educate government and the public on prepaid issues. Strahlberg has been involved with the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association (NBPCA) since shortly after its inception and led the drafting of the association’s white paper on the treatment of network branded prepaid cards by state abandoned property laws.
Currently, she is working on a position paper with other experts addressing how the next Model Unclaimed Property Act should treat prepaid products in the marketplace. The collaboration could create legal precedent.
“This is cutting-edge work,” she says. “The prepaid industry is still in its youth. It’s maturing and the legislative side is catching up to that. From a legal perspective, it’s exciting to see new products being launched and how that comes into play with the current legal landscape.”
She works closely with Judith Rinearson, a partner in Bryan Cave’s New York office, who helped pioneer the legal framework for prepaid cards. They regularly brainstorm about issues affecting prepaid products, which often results in writings that serve as industry learning tools. One such publication, which focused on prepaid rewards cards under state consumer protection and abandoned property laws, is relied on by Bryan Cave clients.
“It’s very tangible. People know what a prepaid card is,” Strahlberg says. “You tell someone you work in banking law, and you often get a polite nod in response. You tell them you work with prepaid card companies, and you get a ton of questions. It gets people talking.”
Strahlberg joined Bryan Cave in 2000 and worked on lending transactions in its New York office for five years. After moving to the firm’s Chicago office, her practice shifted to the regulatory side of banking, where she now focuses on prepaid.
Strahlberg grew up in New Jersey, graduating from Brandeis University in Massachusetts and Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan. She and her husband live on the north side of Chicago and are raising three boys, ages 6, 4 and 16 months.
“I do a lot of juggling,” she says. “But luckily, I really love what I do. That makes all the difference.”
Click below to read about our other Rising Stars.