Translate This!: “I recently took out a very risky bond with a high interest rate.”

By: Julio Perez,  Fall 2017 IAC Graduate Research Assistant

I have talked about “risk” so much in this blog series that I’m starting to develop semantic saturation, but, unsurprisingly, it is hard to talk about the difference between low and high interest rates without talking about risks.

The shortest yet least elucidating definition for interest rate I could find describes it as “the price paid for borrowing money expressed as a percentage rate over a period of time.” This definition is much clearer if you read it, not from the point of view of the investor, but of the entity you are investing in. Interest rates apply to you when you are lending money (by taking out a bond, for example). I guess it also does when you are borrowing, but let’s focus on investing.

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IEPs and 504 Plans: The Difference and the Impact on a Child’s SSI Claim

Paul Blackstock photoBy: Paul Blackstock, HeLP Clinic

Parents filing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability claims on behalf of their children may be asked whether their child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan at school.  These educational tools often indicate the level of help a child requires based on the severity of the child’s medical condition(s).  Although both IEPs and 504 Plans create formal plans for the child, these tools are often given different weight by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Continue reading

Realizing that It’s Not You, It’s Just Life

By: Alyssa Potts, Fall 2017 HeLP Clinic Student Intern

One of, if not the most important, aspects of the attorney-client relationship is communication. Not just communication, but effective communication. During representation of a client, it is important to know the barriers to communication and to be understanding of them. There are two main types of barriers to communication: barriers to getting in contact with the client, and barriers to the actual communication. Barriers to getting in touch with the client are often difficult to understand, especially in the HeLP clinic where we work with low-income clients. Often times our clients may not have a cell phone or a home phone, or may be unable to come up with the money to pay their phone bill that month. Our clients are often busy trying to juggle work, home, and children, which is especially challenging when one or more of those children is disabled. As law student interns, we often do not realize that our clients may be hesitant around us because we are acting in a legal capacity for them, and to some people that can be very intimidating. Other barriers to actual communication include things such as language barriers, use of jargon and legalese, educational differences, and emotional barriers. While communicating, it is important for us to speak in simple terms that the client will understand without losing the point or making the client feel like we are talking down to them. It is a fine line to walk, but is easy to do when it is made a priority. Speaking in simple, straightforward terms will help close the gap in language barriers as well as educational differences.

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Translate This!: “You should reinvest all of the dividends from your stock.”

By: Julio Perez, Fall 2017 IAC Graduate Research Assistant

Dividends! If you are investing in a dividend paying stock, this is a word you’ll want to understand. A dividend is a portion of a company’s profit paid to shareholders of certain stocks. Companies tend to distribute their dividends to stockholders at scheduled intervals. Continue reading

My Clinic Story: Geniuses learn from other’s mistakes, smart people learn from their own mistakes, and stupid people never learn.

By: Robert Noens, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

This is it; my last Clinic blog post. It is a bittersweet event. I am excited to be done and move on to the next chapter of my life. However, I am grateful for all the wonderful real-world and practical experience the Clinic and Practicum have offered me over the past year and a half. Frankly, I will miss it.

I suppose reflecting back, I would leave any reader with this one message: listen to your parents. When I say this, I do mean it in the literal sense; however, I for the purposes of this article, I would rather people read and interpret the phrase for what it represents. For me, the phrase means listen to those who have come before you, those who have more experience, and those who have your best interest(s) in mind – that last element is perhaps the most important. The reason for that is because the people that fit the description above, are the people that will make your life easier. They know the results of different actions, and they have seen an immeasurable number of circumstances play out – many I am sure similar to your own. And ultimately, these are the people who are more often going to be right.

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Reading vs. Understanding: The True Issue

headshotBy: Tyler Almon, HeLP Fall 2017 Student Intern

After hearing through the grapevine about what to expect from the HeLP Clinic, I understood that my casework this semester would involve email communication and drafting pleadings, along with an introduction to the atrocious legal issues surrounding the Atlanta area. What I did not know, however, was the real problem that lied behind every document and email regarding these cases. The real problem was called “life.” What our clients’ lives entail is something that a HeLP intern could never even begin to feel or imagine until seeing it in person.

Throughout my cases, I have been able to see first-hand the struggles that people are going through, ranging from mold inside an apartment, to children with chronic asthma, autism, and developmental delays. The issues seem unbearable to our clients. The worst part of it all was that they didn’t have anybody else fighting for them. That is the clinic’s job, to be the voice for the clients who have none otherwise. Continue reading

Investor Advocacy Clinic’s Noens Serves as Co-Counsel in FINRA Arbitration

In October, an Atlanta attorney contacted Georgia State Law’s Investor Advocacy Clinic and asked it to co-counsel in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration case. Second semester clinic student Robert F. Noens (J.D. ’18) stepped up on behalf of the clinic to help represent an investor who lost money due to broker misconduct.

“Robert came onto the case during the run-up to the hearing – crunch time,” said Craig Kuglar, founding partner of Kuglar Law and a litigator specializing in securities arbitration.. “I treated him like any other co-counsel and assigned him direct examinations of the key witnesses.”

“As with litigation generally, it is rare to have a FINRA securities arbitration matter go to a full hearing,” said Nicole Iannarone, director of the Investor Advocacy Clinic. “After learning that our clinic students rarely had hearings, Craig generously reached out to us to give our students a chance to not only see a hearing but take a major role in it. We are so fortunate to practice in such a supportive community and cannot thank Craig enough for his role in mentoring our clinic students and sharing his years of expertise.” Continue reading