Lessons from the Option of Last Resort: Rolling the Dice

By: Robert Noens, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

Welcome back to my final five-part series with the clinic. This week, I would like to talk about what, in my opinion, is the scariest factor in any trial or hearing. That factor is unpredictability. As I mentioned in a previous blog about the expenses of trial and hearings, some things are well known about trials and hearings. Specifically, they are expensive and you never know what a judge, jury or arbitrator(s) is going to do. That said, I am here to tell you that while you may know a trial is unpredictable, when you have everything riding on one trial or hearing, that is when you truly feel it.

My client for my case that went to hearing was an older gentleman in his 70s, had significant health concerns, and had recently cared for his wife before her passing. To make matters worse, he had recently found out that after trying to invest his modest life savings over the past seven years, his broker had run through half of it by charging him excessive commissions and/or churning his account.

Despite all of this, my client kept a warm and light-hearted demeanor about him. His likeability is what made my supervising attorney bring his case, and I will also add that he did an incredible job with bringing the case. It was a nothing short of an overwhelming performance of equity and intelligence that the other side was not prepared to handle. Nonetheless, I am nervous about the outcome. The arbitrators rightfully maintained an appearance of neutrality, but in the back of my mind I could not help but to replay old anecdotes in my head. These included stories of lost cases that should have been won. Overall, the thought of my client not getting what they deserve is devastating. This is an individual who cannot, as of now prior to the award, afford going into assisted living. Without more money, the remainder of his life will be a struggle, and he does not deserve that. For now, though, we have no other choice than to simply wait for the result of his hearing, which feels like nothing more than just a roll of the dice.