Each year, the Center for Clinical Programs makes a difficult decision to identify one student out of many exceptional clinical students to receive the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Outstanding Student Award. For the 2017-2018 school year, the Investor Advocacy Clinic (IAC) selected Qudsia Shafiq (J.D. ’18) as the recipient.
IAC clients are everyday people like hairdressers, teachers, retirees, and tradespersons – who have saved money a majority of their lives. Losing their nest egg results in housing instability, bankruptcy, inability to purchase necessary medications, or as one of Shafiq’s clients put it, “having to choose between buying dog food or toilet paper.”
IAC clients are reluctant when they come to us. They had previously placed trust in a financial adviser who broke a promise to provide investment advice consistent with the client’s goals. Building a relationship with a client who has already been wronged by a professional is even more challenging than the securities law students must master to resolve what the industry calls “small claims.” Shafiq excelled at developing relationships with her clients and helping them rebuild trust. She did this through compassionate listening and by going above and beyond in her representation. As one client shared in a thank you note about a case on which Shafiq worked, “Thank you for all the hours (100s of them) put in on my behalf! Amazing to see all of you in action.”
Shafiq’s work included decoding thousands of pages of brokerage statements and explaining to clients why they lost money. She helped her clients recover their losses and ensure their future financial stability. Shafiq’s work with the IAC did not end when she met her weekly hours. She took ownership of her clients’ cases and exceeded the minimum requirements. Shafiq continued her work after the semester formally ended and looked for additional ways to volunteer and help her clients.
In addition, she is committed to ensuring that those in need are represented in discussions about how financial regulation impacts them. As a clinic II student, Shafiq testified before the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission’s Dodd-Frank Investor Advisory Committee in October of 2017. In her testimony, available here, she discussed how small investors need lawyers to help them solve securities issues and the enormous justice gap between the wealthy investor and the typical American trying to make ends meet in retirement. Her testimony was praised because of her passion for her clients and her ability to communicate why a $5,000 investment loss is devastating for our retiree clients.
Shafiq’s advocacy continues beyond law school. She has worked with the IAC’s director to share her clients’ stories with key policy makers, regulators, and industry leaders. Due to her compelling testimony and dedication, she was invited to join a discussion of financial services policymakers on the problem of regular investors with “small” losses.
Regular investors have a strong ally and friend who will continue to be on their side throughout this Georgia State Law grad’s legal practice.