Robert Finlay Named California Mortgage Association General Counsel

He brings over 24 years of experience in mortgage transaction and litigation practice and a strong commitment to serving the industry

by Odell Murry, MAI Financial Services, Inc.

We are thrilled to welcome Robert Finlay as the new General Counsel for the California Mortgage Association.

Robert, a founding member of Wright, Finlay & Zak law firm in 2002, has an extensive legal background in the real estate mortgage industry, including over 24 years of experience representing loan originators, servicers, and investors in mortgage litigation. He’s an active member of many key mortgage organizations, including the California Mortgage Association (CMA), California Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA) and Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). He also has served multiple roles, including president and a board member, of the United Trustees Association (UTA).

Through his legal work, Robert has researched, authored, and provided valuable input on many important amicus briefs for the mortgage industry in recent years. Robert also has devoted significant time to legislative issues affecting the mortgage industry. In 2012, as president of the UTA, Robert was actively involved in efforts to protect the interests of the mortgage industry with regard to the California Homeowner’s Bill of Rights. A year later, Robert was named the Chair of the UTA’s Legislative Committee, a position he has held for the past six years. In 2018, Robert worked closely with Mike Belote and other industry lobbyists to lessen the impact of the renewed HOBR bill.

While Robert’s legal resume is very impressive, we were just as impressed by his commitment to service to his clients. He says he learned the importance of customer service from years of working as a waiter in restaurants from high school right through law school. Through the reactions of customers, he received immediate feedback from the value of good customer service, and he quickly enjoyed finding ways to go the extra mile for his customers.

“It helped me be the attorney that I am,” Finlay said. “Those lessons that I learned absolutely have carried over to the philosophy that I and the firm share – that customer service is number one.”

It is a philosophy that has served his firm well. When he and others founded Wright, Finlay & Zak in 2002, the firm was just six attorneys, all located in California. It now has some 60 attorneys spread out between offices in other states – Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. Robert says his firm’s experience in multiple states may help him, as General Counsel, provide association members information about legal changes and trends in the mortgage industry and mortgage laws in other states, as well as California. He also hopes he may be able to use his multi-state connections to recruit additional members who operate in multiple states.

Robert is very aware of that he is taking over a position that was held by Phil Adleson until Adleson’s passing in 2017. He shares the feelings of all of us at the California Mortgage Association that Phil is sorely missed. Robert only hopes that he can provide the same level of service and legal expertise as Phil, and he will do all he can to continue Phil’s legacy.

“There’s no way I could replace Phil,” Robert said. “I don’t think there’s an army of lawyers that could replace Phil.”

Robert strongly believes his role is not just to represent the California Mortgage Association in the industry and in the public, but to share the information he has about the legal landscape of mortgage and lending laws with its members. He says it’s not enough to stay on top of the latest legal developments, but to share that information with CMA members and others in the industry.

“I think it’s critical for me to keep tabs on new laws that affect my clients and affect organizations that I’m involved in, as well as new case decisions, and try to put those in plain language for the members so they can understand how this impacts them and what they need to do because of the changes in the law,” he said.

When not at work, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Mary, and their four children. He also enjoys woodworking and tennis.

Please join us in welcoming Robert to his new role in the California Mortgage Association. We believe he will provide exceptional legal expertise and service to the Association for many years to come.


Wright, Finlay & Zak, LLP specializes in mortgage-related litigation, compliance and regulatory matters for its clients throughout the Western United States, including California, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Utah and Oregon. You can contact Robert Finlay at rfinlay@wrightlegal.net or (949) 477-5050.


Odell Murry is founder and president of MAI Financial Services Inc., a private-mortgage company and institutional commercial mortgage broker. He is also past president of the California Mortgage Association. Murry originates life-insurance-company institutional and private-mortgage loans on apartments, industrial, retail and most other income-producing commercial real estate. He also serves as chairman of the National Advisory Board of the University of Massachusetts W.E.B. Du Bois Center. You can contact Odell Murry at OMurry@MAIFunding.com or (866) MAI-FUND.