Law Professor Kathleen Engel told the New York Times that shareholders and borrowers pursuing claims against financial institutions in the wake of the mortgage crisis are “really serving the function of the government. They are our private attorneys general.”

Engel, co-author of The Subprime Virus: Reckless Credit, Regulatory Failure, and Next Steps, discussed the lack of federal government credit cases against the nation’s largest banks in the Times article “A.I.G. Sues Bank of America Over Mortgage Bonds.”

“When federal authorities don’t fulfill their obligation to enforce the law, they essentially give an imprimatur to the financial entities to do whatever they want and disregard the law,” she said.

Engel is associate dean for Intellectual Life and professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School