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CFP Board Names Camarda Case Lawyer as Its General Counsel

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The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards announced Tuesday that it has appointed Leo Rydzewski to the newly created role of general counsel.

Rydzewski most recently served as a partner in the Washington office of global law firm Holland & Knight, which has been representing the Board in its ongoing legal battle against Jeffrey and Kimberly Camarda, the two CFPs that the Board alleges violated its fee-only definition.

Rydzewski has represented CFP Board in defense of the claims raised by the Camardas since 2013. Holland & Knight will continue to serve as counsel to CFP Board in the Camardas’ litigation.

CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller told ThinkAdvisor in a Tuesday morning interview that Rydzewski’s role as general counsel includes filling the enforcement duties held by Michael Shaw, the Board’s former ‎managing director for Professional Standards & Legal, who departed on Dec. 12.

In addition to overseeing the Board’s standard setting and enforcement duties, Keller said that Rydzewski will provide “strategic corporate advice to me, the CFP Board as well as to the entire organization,” which will help the Board “better deliver on our mission.”

Keller said that Rydzewski brings an “in-depth understanding of CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct and CFP Board’s investigative and adjudicatory functions,” and that Rydzewski “will leverage his legal experience to promote the highest standards of ethical and professional responsibility for the benefit of the public.”

The Camardas are suing to block the CFP Board’s public letter of admonition, as well as for their legal costs and for business damages they claim have resulted from the publicity generated by the case.

“We strongly believe that the case brought by the Camardas [against the CFP Board] is without merit,” Keller said Tuesday. “The core of our work is to set and enforce our standards; that’s what gives the CFP Board credibility” with regulators, legislators, the media and the public at large.

Rydzewski will continue to “work closely with his former colleagues [at Holland & Knight] to defend CFP Board in the Camardas case,” Keller said.

“CFP Board has filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to determine that there is no legal claim against CFP Board and to end the case in our favor,” Keller added. ”The court is ‘fully briefed’ and the case is in the hands of the court.”

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Rydzewski served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Federico A. Moreno, in the Southern District of Florida. He received his Juris Doctor from Florida State University College of Law, where he graduated summa cum laude, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Georgetown University, which later awarded him the William Gaston Award for alumni leadership.

“CFP Board is the recognized standard of excellence in the financial planning profession, playing a vital role in ensuring competent and ethical financial planning advice,” Rydzewski said in a statement. “I am excited to join CFP Board’s executive leadership team and to work with Certified Financial Planner professionals across the country to advance the interests of consumers and the financial planning profession.”

— Check out Michael Kitces’ blog Should CFP Board Settle Camarda Case? My Argument and the Board’s Response on ThinkAdvisor.