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
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.
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.
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
By: Dowdy White, Fall 2018 IAC Student Intern
On September 30, 2012, Chipper Jones played in his final regular season home game for the Atlanta Braves. When Chipper stepped up to the plate, the sound of Turner Field turned from an intelligible murmur to a deafening roar of affection and gratitude for a man who spent his entire nineteen-year career in a Braves uniform. Chipper stepped out of the batter’s box, removed his helmet, and warmly acknowledged the adoring crowd behind him. It was a truly chilling and emotional curtain call – and a great end to an amazing career. Chipper stated that it was only because of the fans in Atlanta that he was able to play the game he loved.
Fast-forward to the Bronx in New York on September 26, 2013. Mariano Rivera pitched in his final home game for the New York Yankees in front of a sellout crowd at the historic Yankee Stadium. After nineteen years of dominating hitters in make-or-break game situations, Rivera laid the foundation to make it to Cooperstown to the MLB Hall of Fame. However, during his last game at Yankee Stadium, Rivera didn’t make the situation all about him. When he left the mound after throwing his final pitch, Rivera humbly tipped his cap to the crowd and acknowledged that everything he did during his career was for them.
This brings us to the Investor Advocacy Clinic at the Georgia State University College of Law in December 2018. While I’ll never be Chipper Jones or Mariano Rivera ending a career of almost two decades in the spotlight, I enjoyed my time in the clinic. However, I don’t want this time to be about me. I want to acknowledge everyone who has influenced my time here in the Clinic. Continue reading
By Ben Dell’Orto, IAC Student Intern Fall 2018
Sometimes you’ve got to learn the lesson the hard way.
While legislation to prevent the “creative accounting” performed by Enron may seem like a no brainer, it took those events to prompt legislative action, which followed quickly.
First introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Michael Oxley, the bill went through only a few amendments before moving to the Senate on April 24, 2002. There, Sen. Paul Sarbanes pushed the bill through, agreed to on July 15. The differences were resolved by July 25. Continue reading
By Ben Dell’Orto, IAC Student Intern Fall 2018
The highest profile case was bound to make it to our nation’s highest profile court.
Jeffrey Skilling joined Enron in 1990 before working as the company’s president and CEO from February to August 2001. Essentially, he presided over the ultimate fall of the company in its final months after working as an executive for several years.
As Enron was based in Houston, Skilling was tried in the Southern District of Texas. Charged with a litany of offenses, mostly based around securities fraud but also including making false statements to auditors and insider trading, the court found Skilling guilty of nineteen counts on October 23, 2006. Several Enron executives testified against him. Continue reading