By Eric Peters , Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern
My decision to join the Investor Advocacy Clinic was driven by two goals: 1.) utilize my financial education in a real-world, legal environment, and 2.) help those who could not afford legal representation. As this semester’s work in the Clinic is coming to an end, both these goals have been accomplished. With the guiding hand of Professor Iannarone, I have made significant progress in developing my professional identity, skill set, and now feel prepared to enter the legal profession with confidence. Professor Iannarone’s wealth of knowledge and willingness to assist and guide her students throughout the process of a FINRA arbitration has been an invaluable tool and helped me make strides towards becoming the lawyer I want to be.
I have gained experience in developing a client’s potential claim, often buried in a pile of disorganized and incomplete documents, pull out pertinent financial information, and synthesize that information into viable legal claims upon which to base a recovery. An important part of my legal education is identifying which parts of the story are incomplete and to ask relevant questions to make the story whole and create the most persuasive case possible. Many of the clients that come into the Clinic looking for help are very emotional due to the harm, or perceived harm, they have experienced, making it difficult to have an objective view of their situation. Recognizing that clients will paint their situation in a light most favorable to their claims, a lawyer must have the ability to pick out the negatives of the situation and hedge against those negatives by framing the situation carefully. Even though it is often difficult not to sympathize with potential clients, lawyers must take the emotion out of the situation or risk overlooking important, negative facts or distort the objective reality of what occurred.
These are only a few of the many lessons learned through my work in the Investor Advocacy Clinic. A year ago, when deciding which avenue would give me the best experience going forward into a career as a lawyer, I received advice from a high school friend to join the Investor Advocacy Clinic. She touted the invaluable experience gained from the work done in the Clinic and Professor Iannarone, and she was right. My time working in the Clinic has been the most valuable, real-world experience I have had in law school and has given me the experience of what it is like to practice law. I am looking forward to working in the Clinic again next semester to further build upon this base of experience and knowledge.