Investor Advocacy Clinic Welcomes Caleb Swiney

Caleb L. Swiney joins the Investor Advocacy Clinic for its spring 2019 semester. A graduate of Hampden-Sydney College with a degree in Economics and Business, Swiney plans to work in commercial law once he graduates in May 2019.

According to Swiney, he joined the clinic “To make a difference in real people’s lives. To me, the most exciting part about the legal profession has always been our ability to make a positive impact on people’s lives at a time when they need it most and, in doing so, hopefully shape businesses’ behavior by deterring them from engaging in deceptive practices.”

Investor Alert: Keep Your Hands of My Insurance Payout: SEC releases Investor Alert warning victims of Hurricane Florence and Michael

By Lynn Mckeel, Fall 2018 IAC Student Intern

The SEC’s recent Investor Alert comes in the wake of history’s most devastating hurricanes. Riding the coat tails of devastation, con artists and fraudsters are capitalizing on the chaos and destruction. Recognizing the influx of cash and the kindness and virtue of others, these fraudsters manipulate situations in order to separate people from their money. Anyone can be vulnerable to their tactics.

If you have been affected by the storm and received a lump sum insurance payout, please be hyper-vigilant with your insurance proceeds. Continue reading

Investor Advocacy Clinic Welcomes Back Esmat Hanano

Esmat Hanano rejoined the Investor Advocacy Clinic for its spring 2019 semester.  A graduate of American University with a degree in philosophy, Hanano will graduate from the Georgia State University College of Law in May 2019.

Hanano came back to the clinic because he wants to use the skills he’s gained in the past year help those who otherwise would not be able to obtain a lawyer. He says:

“The Investor Advocacy Clinic serves as a tool for people who feel lost or overwhelmed when coming up against savvy brokers and firms.”

Upon graduation, Hanano hopes to clerk and then work as a federal prosecutor.

Investor Advisory Clinic Director Appointed to FINRA’s National Mediation and Arbitration Committee

Nicole Iannarone, associate clinical professor and director of the Investor Advocacy Clinic, was named to FINRA’s National Mediation and Arbitration Committee (NAMC).  FINRA is a self-regulated organization that oversees broker and dealer operations. NAMC makes recommendations concerning recruitment, qualification, training and evaluation of arbitrators and mediators as well as recommendations on rules, regulations and procedures that govern arbitration, mediation and other dispute regulation matters before FINRA.    Her three-year appointment began in June 2018 as a public member—one with no financial service industry ties. Continue reading

Investor Advocacy Clinic Begins Spring 2019 Work

The Investor Advocacy Clinic is back for another semester.  Our spring 2019 student interns began their work on January 11, 2019 with a full day orientation and boot camp. Three of our interns are returning from prior semesters: Esmat Hanano, Kevin Mathis, and Brook Ptacek.  Two additional interns join us for their first semester: Caitlyn Scofield and Caleb Swiney.

The IAC interns learned about the clinic and its work with regular, retail investors during the orientation.  We participated in joint sessions with the Tax Clinic on crucial clinic training: client relationship building, interviewing, and legal ethics.  Former IAC Intern Eddie Greenblat returned to lend his professional improv expertise by leading an engaging session to hone our listening and communication skills.

Interns have since jumped back into their work, investigating potential claims on behalf of investors, evaluating and commenting on FINRA rule changes, working with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Securities Division, and crafting creative investor education pieces.  We are also happy to evaluate new claims, and encourage Georgians who have had issues with their stockbrokers to contact us.  If we accept a case, the clinic provides free legal representation to aggrieved investors and helps them navigate through the FINRA dispute resolution process.

My Clinic Story: A Perfect Union

By: Matthew Haan, IAC Student Intern Fall 2018

Except for the four years I spent in college, I have lived in Atlanta my entire life. Most of my family has roots the Midwest—Michigan, mainly. Although other family members have joined us in Atlanta, my parents were the first in our family to lay roots in the Empire City of the South when they moved here from Michigan thirty-five years ago. Because of this, I sometimes joke that I am a first-generation Southerner (my grandmother, who grew up in North Carolina, would disagree with me). The underlying point in this brief biography is that I have a strong connection to Atlanta. I love this city and everything it has to offer, and I am proud to call it my home.

Growing up, I started noticing some pretty neat things about Atlanta and all the opportunities it presents. When I was five, we hosted the Olympics. Not just any Olympics, but the Olympics that celebrated the one-hundredth year anniversary of the very first games. Even though I was young, I still have memories of watching the torch go past my church, trading Olympic pins in Centennial Olympic Park, and sitting in Olympic Stadium watching the flame burn in the rain, mesmerized by the fact that it still burned through one of those classic mid-afternoon summer storms. As I got older, I noticed how many of the world’s most recognized and loved companies conduct business in Atlanta. The Home Depot, SunTrust, and Coca-Cola not only have headquarters here, but they all also started here. Other companies, like Mercedes-Benz, have chosen to relocate here. The film industry has also relocated here. In the last couple of years, Atlanta has become the Hollywood of the South. It is not uncommon to see things like Spiderman hanging from a helicopter, or a red Subaru racing through the downtown streets for a shot in Baby Driver, or cast members from the Walking Dead filming near the Capitol Building. Wherever you go, you are almost guaranteed to see one of those school-bus-yellow signs with black lettering directing casts and crews to another movie or television set.

It is not just business that Atlanta does well. We have some of the best hospitals in the world in our backyard, where national television hosts choose to have groundbreaking heart surgeries pioneered by some of the world’s best doctors. Our city is home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, placing us at the forefront of revolutionary medical research. In 2014, the whole world watched as Dr. Kent Brantly arrived at Emory University Hospital, making him the first person with Ebola virus disease treated in the United States. Most of the country feared what would happen when a patient with such a contagious disease stepped on American soil. But in a metaphorical display of our city’s Southern hospitality, Emory’s doctors, nurses, and the entire medical team decided to care instead of fear.

I have always thought about how cool it would be if my legal career allowed me to represent some of those well-known companies that call Atlanta home. In some ways, I believe that doing so would not just allow me to represent The Home Depot, for example, but also to represent Atlanta. Working in the Investor Advocacy Clinic has given me a glimpse of what it is like to represent my city. The Clinic works with harmed investors with small claims who could not otherwise afford legal representation. To be sure, this is quite different from working with The Home Depot, or Coca-Cola, or SunTrust. But, working in the Clinic has allowed me to be involved in something that possesses many of the great qualities that make Atlanta, well, Atlanta. The Investor Advocacy Clinic is one of just a few clinics in the country that focuses on representing investors through the arbitration process, placing it at the forefront of a unique type of pro bono representation. Just like Atlanta, working in the Clinic provides students with unique opportunities that are not available elsewhere. In the same way, it gives people a shot at legal representation that might not be available elsewhere. It is often the case that the people we talk to have already tried to get help from an attorney. We welcome the claims of harmed investors with nowhere else to go. By no means am I drawing a direct comparison to the work we do, and the outstanding work done by Emory’s doctors, nurses, and medical team. But I find it apropos that both of us work in the same city. A city that, despite the traffic on 285, the sometimes‑unbearable heat indexes, and Sunday closures of Chik-fil-A, willingly helps others. Whenever I tell people that I have lived in Atlanta my entire life, one of the first reactions is usually some sense of surprise that I did not move here from somewhere else. Although it is generally true that Atlanta has its fair number of “transplants” (not just people, but companies, too), this never seems to matter. It’s this “come on in, y’all, we’re glad to have you” attitude that makes Atlanta’s people and institutions so great. From Michigan to Germany, you are welcome here. This is my lasting image of the Investor Advocacy Clinic. No matter where you have come from, no matter what your story is, we are going to try and find a way to lend a hand.

In many ways, the Investor Advocacy Clinic is a microcosm of all that Atlanta represents. Atlanta is awesome. The Investor Advocacy Clinic is awesome. And I am proud to have such a strong connection to both.

My Clinic Story

By: Eddie Greenblat, Fall 2018 IAC Student Intern

I will be a better attorney because I was a member of the Investor Advocacy Clinic. Why, you might ask? Well, the story starts with when I enrolled in the Business Arbitration Practicum. I knew nothing about the class and nothing about investments, arbitration, or FINRA. I knew I wanted a clinic experience before I graduated law school, and this appeared to be my path to a clinic. After completing the Practicum and one semester in the clinic, I can honestly say I learned skills that I will use for the rest of my professional life. Continue reading