Lessons from the Option of Last Resort: Preparation and Expense

By: Robert Noens, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

From start to finish, I believe the case I co-counseled took a year. I, however, was only involved for two weeks. Granted, the weeks leading up to a hearing and the hearing itself will likely be the most expensive time period in the life of a FINRA dispute, but that does not take away from one simple fact; FINRA hearings, like any trial, are expensive. Every day leading up to the FINRA hearing there are copying costs, which – surprisingly or not – add up quickly, lawyers billing by the hour day-in and day-out, experts billing by the hour, and jury and/or witness consultants. This goes on all day and every day leading up to the hearing. The result is almost invariable a bill that will dwarf the vast majority of Americans’ yearly salaries.

I – I assume like many have – heard that trial is expensive, but one cannot fully appreciate how expensive until they see it. Abstractly, many people think that when things go wrong, they can sue. This is far from truth unless you are willing to pay a lot of money. Because, as my supervising attorney said, “whether it’s $100,000.00 or $100,000,000.00, the cost of bringing a case to hearing is the same – if you do it right.”

So where does that leave us? Well, in my opinion, it highlights the need for clinics like the Investor Advocacy Clinic here at Georgia State College of Law, and it further shows why staying away from a trial or a hearing is so desirable if it is an option. Additionally, a hearing should be you option of last resort when all else fails. Because if there is one message that really got sent home during my time at the hearing, it is that you do not ever want to have to pay someone else’s attorney’s fees.