Clinic Teaches Problem Solving Approach

By: Darius Wood, Fall 2015 Student Intern

dw workMy Investor Advocacy Clinic II experience proved to be vastly different from my first clinic experience. In Clinic II our professors assumed the role of a partner in a law firm, and we as students assumed the role of associates. At the beginning of the semester our professors assigned us cases and told us to go forth and develop a strategy. This approach proved to be very challenging for us at first. Like most students, we were accustomed to our professors guiding us through the actions we would need to take. It took us some time, but eventually it started to click for us and we began to take more and more ownership over our cases.

Working in the Clinic teaches you to take overship over managing the case development cycle from client intake to negotiating with opposing counsel. In the clinic we learned to develop a problem solving approach where we first researched and investigated each problem to determine the actions we could take. Then we learned to compare the pros and cons of each approach, and ultimately you recommend a given approach to the professors and then to the client. Concurrently, we had to learn to document the process and everything we learned along the way. This is the toughest part as it may seem tedious at first, but what use is everything you learned along the way if it not put into a format that anyone could understand?

I would recommend the Investor Advocacy Clinic to any student who is looking to develop lawyering skills that will be essential to them in their future legal practice (i.e., billing your time, working with a team of lawyers, document drafting, and client interactions) and to any student who wants to get a glimpse of what it will be like practicing law.

 

Clinic Comments on FINRA Proposal Concerning Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults

Investor Advocacy Clinic interns Christopher Pugh, Jason Robinson and Darius Wood recently filed a comment on FINRA Notice 15-37, a FINRA proposal to change several rules in an effort to protect seniors and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.

The Clinic’s comment, available in full here, supported the proposed rule changes to the extent they aim to protect investors from financial exploitation. The Clinic suggested several changes to increase the proposal’s efficacy.  First, the Clinic believes that if it is suspected that financial exploitation may occur, a firm should act and must not be given a safe harbor from liability unless it takes action to protect a customer.  Second, we recommend that the obligation to act be expanded to include the front line representatives working with customers.  Third, the proposal should require training created by FINRA and incorporated into its continuing education requirement for associated persons.  Fourth, we believe that a trusted contact individual should not be named unless such a person agrees to undertake the role.  Finally, we recommend that personal information disclosed to anyone other than a customer be limited.

The Investor Advocacy Clinic represents the voice of small consumer investors.  In addition to providing legal representation of small investors who have claims against their brokers, the Investor Advocacy Clinic evaluates and comments on proposed rules that impact the small investor and engages in educational outreach for investors and professionals who work with investors.

Interns Speak About Mitigating Investment Fraud Risk

IMG_2682 (002)On November 18, 2015, Investor Advocacy Clinic II student interns Christopher Pugh, Jason Robinson and Darius Wood taught Georgia State College of Law students how to recognize and prevent investment fraud.  The interactive presentation included a screening of the film Trick$ of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud.  Interns then led a discussion with participants about the film and how they can use their new knowledge to avoid investment fraud.

Today: Mitigating Investment Fraud Risk

Join the Fall 2015 Investor Advocacy Clinic II student interns today from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in Room 241 for a presentation on mitigating investment fraud risk.  We will be Screening Trick$ of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud at the Georgia State University College of Law.  Food will be provided.

What am I going to learn?

  • Common ways that Investment Fraud occurs
  • 5 Most Common Investment Fraud Tactics
  • Best ways to Avoid becoming a victim of Investment Fraud

Why does this matter?

People believe that because they are smarter than average or more well-off they are less susceptible to investment fraud; however, the opposite is actually true.

Why should I know about investment fraud?

Most individuals will engage in some type of investing during the course of their lives and understanding who is most susceptible and how to prevent investment fraud is the best way for individuals to protect themselves.

Clinic Comments on Proposed Model Act to Protect Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation

On October 29, 2015, the Investor Advocacy Clinic commented on the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA) Proposed Model Act to Protect Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation. The Proposed Model Act, available here, aims to protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation by mandating thatcertain financial services providers and compliance personnel (“qualified employees”) report suspected exploitation to adult protective services and securities commissioners.  The Model Act would also allow such qualified employees to delay certain suspected fraudulent disbursements.

The Clinic’s comment, available in full here, supported the Proposed Model Act because it protects vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.  The Clinic suggested two amendments to increase the protection of vulnerable adults from financial exploitation and increase its effaciacy.  First, the Clinic believes that the Model Act should require education and training on the red flags of financial exploitation for qualified employees to ensure that they report in appropriate circumstances.  Second, the Clinic believes that the Model Act’s coverage of seniors should begin at the age of 65 instead of 60 so that the Model Act is not inconsistent with pre-existing similar statutes.

The Investor Advocacy Clinic represents the voice of small retail investors.  In addition to providing legal representation of small investors who have claims against their brokers, the Investor Advocacy Clinic evaluates and comments on proposed rules that impact the small investor and engages in educational outreach for investors and professionals who work with investors.

Save the Date: Mitigating Investment Fraud Risk

Join the Fall 2015 Investor Advocacy Clinic II student interns on November 18, 2015 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in Room 241 for a presentation on mitigating investment fraud risk.  We will be Screening Trick$ of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud at the Georgia State University College of Law.  Food will be provided.

What am I going to learn?

  • Common ways that Investment Fraud occurs
  • 5 Most Common Investment Fraud Tactics
  • Best ways to Avoid becoming a victim of Investment Fraud

Why does this matter?

People believe that because they are smarter than average or more well-off they are less susceptible to investment fraud; however, the opposite is actually true.

Why should I know about investment fraud?

Most individuals will engage in some type of investing during the course of their lives and understanding who is most susceptible and how to prevent investment fraud is the best way for individuals to protect themselves.

2016 IRS Retirement Plan Contribution Limits

By Darius Wood, Fall 2015 Student Intern

Millions of Americans save for their retirement by utilizing retirement accounts like 401(k)’s and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). Retirement accounts are advantageous over savings accounts and regular investment accounts because they allow individuals to not only invest money in a particular area but will potentially receive favorable tax treatment by doing so. The exact tax treatment of each plan varies. Continue reading