What Kind of Investment are You?

At the Investor Advocacy Clinic, we believe in making learning about investing fun.  What is a more fun way to learn about investing than a BuzzFeed quiz?  No, it isn’t scientific, and yes, it is only for fun.  But your regular life choices mirror some investments, and you might learn something about investing from this quiz created by student attorneys Abigail Howd, Eric Peters, and Dowdy White.  Click here to learn what your favorite chicken nugget dipping sauce tells us about what type of investment you might be.

There, There, Clinic. It’s Not Really Goodbye, After All

By Ben Dell’Orto, Spring 2018 IAC Student Intern

That’s a little adjustment to a quote from the story of my generation, Harry Potter. In the scene, Harry is leaving school for the first time, and he comforts one of the friends he’s made, reminding him he’ll be back next year. The end of this semester in clinic feels the same in some ways, since I’ll be coming back for Clinic II in the fall.

The clinic this semester has been a great experience, first and foremost in giving me an opportunity to interact with actual people seeking legal help. We practice interviewing clients in some of our classes, but those don’t really provide the same experiential value as trying to find which follow up questions you should ask in the moment to a real person you’re talking to about their potential legal problems. Continue reading

My Clinic Story: Eric Peters

By Eric Peters, Spring 2018 IAC Student Intern

As my semester and year in the Clinic comes to an end, I have a lot to be thankful for. I have had the opportunity to work with an array of brilliant and engaging people who have all pushed me to become better every step of the way, and the experience has been irreplaceable.

When I first started working in the Clinic last Fall, I didn’t quite know what to expect. While I knew student interns in the Clinic managed cases throughout the FINRA arbitration process, I didn’t know how hands-on the work would actually be. How extensive would my new role as a student attorney authorized to practice law under the supervision of a licensed attorney be? As I quickly found out, students in the Clinic are fully expected to be the attorney. Instead of working through fact patterns and writing essays on how situations should be analyzed, as had been the norm throughout my time in law school, I was thrust into the complex and real-life practice of law. Continue reading

Friday’s Files: Account Transfers and Closings

Ben Dell’Orto, Spring 2018 IAC Student Intern

Breaking up is hard to do.

Luckily, if you like your broker, even if he or she transfers firms, you can likely stay on as a client. While this isn’t always the best idea—and there are a few questions to ask to find out if it is—if you are happy your broker, it might be worth it to move to a new firm. As the customer, you will start the process with a Transfer Instruction Form. You’ll want to keep a copy of this completed form, since, as the SEC notes, “most account transfer delays occur because the TIF is either incorrect or incomplete.” Continue reading

From Helping Farmers to Helping Investors: My Clinic Story

By Dowdy White, Spring 2018 IAC Student Intern

As an undergraduate student who studied Agricultural Communication at the University of Georgia, it seems weird that I would be a law student interning in the Investor Advocacy Clinic and working to help clients navigate through their complicated investing schemes and work through the FINRA arbitration process, right? Well, maybe not as much as you would think. Though these two academic areas of study seem wholly unrelated, they are more alike than you could ever imagine.

When I was an undergraduate student, I was often asked if my Agricultural Communication degree was real or if I enjoyed talking to plants and animals. No matter how many times I was asked these questions, I always found myself laughing and trying my best to explain to people what my degree did for me. I always told interested people that my degree was in the area of talking and communicating with people who needed my help. Yes, I took copious amounts of journalism and public relations classes on top of a rigorous agricultural curriculum, but I also spent my time helping and listening to people who had a problem. Continue reading

Friday’s Files: Records of Correspondence

Ben Dell’Orto, Spring 2018 IAC Student Intern

Though brokers are mostly identified with the buying and selling of securities on behalf of the investor, they serve another important role: advisor.

While there is a difference between a broker, who acts as an advisor with an “o” and an investment adviser with an “e,” both have responsibilities to their clients when providing guidance. Over the course of the broker/client relationship, it is important to frequently check in with your broker to keep track of how your account is handled. Whether you are giving precise instructions on what to buy or sell or you have given your broker full control of your account, it is wise to keep track of how your investments are doing and ask any questions you might have. Continue reading

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.