Investor Advocacy Clinic: Learning and Helping Others

By Abigail Howd, Spring 2018 IAC Student Intern

Prior to taking the clinic’s prerequisite class, I knew next to nothing about investing. I saw the direct effects of the 2008 recession because my parents were real estate agents with their own investment properties. Beyond that, I paid little attention to the upwards or downwards trends in the stock exchanges. I had heard of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but I must admit, I did not know what it did or what securities were. Even during my time between college and graduate school when I had a fulltime job, investing was never on my mind. I was too focused on paying down my student loans. Investing sounded like something people with a lot of money did for fun to get more money. I knew it could pay off, but it could also be extremely risky.

After taking the class and working in the clinic, I know I was right about something—investing can be risky. However, I was wrong about who invests and why. Our clinic helps investors from all walks of life who have smaller-dollar claims and who could not otherwise afford legal representation. They have many different reasons for investing. Some are planning for retirement, others are trying to help their children attend college, and still others are simply using investments as an additional form of income. Regardless of how much money people invest or their reasons for doing so, the important part is that whomever they entrust with their money has their best interests at heart.

I have learned a lot about securities and the various laws and rules that govern them in the past year. In doing so, I discovered that even knowing the bare minimum, I could help people. I learned that I do not always have to know the answers right away. I just need to know how to find the answers when I need them. My favorite parts of clinic were helping people recover their hard-earned money and realizing how quickly I could absorb a whole new field of law. I am proud of all the things my team was able to accomplish over the semester. Mainly, I am grateful for the opportunity to develop my professional identity while working on real cases and helping real people.