Join the IAC to Develop your Identity as a Lawyer

By Mary Ann Hanke, Fall 2016 Student Intern

mary-annWorking in the Investor Advocacy Clinic has been one of the best ways to practice and develop my identity as a lawyer. Even before the midpoint of the semester, I had the opportunity and responsibility to conduct client intake interviews, analyze potential cases, draft a statement of claim, craft different theories of liability under the FINRA rules, and assess the amount of potential damages upon substantial document review. As student interns, the progress that we make in one semester can lead us from a client introduction phone call to an arbitration hearing, and everything in between. It has been professionally rewarding to be in charge of my own matters from the start and to generate work product that becomes the cornerstone of these cases.

Nothing is more fulfilling, however, than to realize how much of a difference each of the Clinic students makes in our clients’ lives. I’m proud to be a part of the Clinic and the work it does in the community.

My Clinic Story

By Mary Ann Hanke, Fall 2016 Student Intern

For the first three years of law school, I worked full-time at a software consulting company and went to law school part-time in the evenings. Legal experience therefore, was hard to come by. I was involved in extra-curricular activities that helped give me some academic and practical experience, but I had not worked in the field at all. When I made the switch to full-time student for the last year, I had to strategically choose and schedule my semesters to maximize the quality of my experience. I needed to gain the most value I could, in the shortest possible time.

When I first heard about the clinic, I had sort of dismissed it. Securities arbitration was not something I thought I was interested in, and I didn’t think I would have the time to fit it into my schedule. After talking to a few students who had signed up for the corresponding class, and had actually taken the clinic, I began to change my mind. The experience seemed to revolve not just around securities laws or arbitration, but on developing your lawyering identity as well.

In fact, participating in the clinic ended up being one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had in law school to date. The casework, responsibilities, and exposure to all aspects of client management have prepared me more for being a lawyer than any class has. We wrote pleadings, handled client phone calls, managed our individual caseload, and learned just as much about ourselves as we did about securities arbitration under FINRA. We participated in joint investigations with State agencies, and conceptualized and designed a long-term collaboration with the Georgia Secretary of State dedicated to investor education. As I look back on the semester, I am amazed at how much we accomplished and how much I learned about myself in such a short period of time. Most of all, I am proud of the work of we did and the positive impact it has had on people’s lives.

You’ve Filed a Claim – What’s Next? The Award

By Mary Ann Hanke, Fall 2016 Student Intern

After the arbitration hearing, you have done all that you can do to argue your side of the case. The arbitrator has heard all the evidence, read the pleadings and exhibits, and now has thirty days to make a final ruling.

The information that is required to be in an award includes the following:

  • An acknowledgement by the arbitrators that they read the materials and pleadings filed
  • Damages and other relief requested and awarded
  • Resolution of the issues
  • Date of the hearing and award

Unlike judges, arbitrators are not required to provide reasons for why they ruled the way they did, and the orders are not subject to review or appeal. On one hand, this provides more finality and a quicker resolution. On the other, if the arbitrator did not rule in your favor, you have no other recourse. The only way to challenge an arbitrator’s award is under state and federal laws for the following reasons:

  • The award given was based on fraud, corruption, or undue means
  • Arbitrators were guilty of misconduct or exceeding their powers, or disregarding a clearly defined law or legal principle
  • There is no factual or reasonable basis for the award

If the arbitrator does award you damages, the Respondents have thirty days to pay. If they don’t, however, then you should contact FINRA. FINRA may suspend or revoke the registration for a member firm or associated person for failing to pay such fees.

After you have received your arbitration award, you are finally done with the arbitration process. You have gone from filing a statement of claim to initiate the proceedings, through arbitration selection, discovery, the hearing, to a final resolution. Contact FINRA if you have questions about the Rules of Conduct governing each step of the process.

You’ve Filed a Claim – What’s Next? The Arbitration Hearing

By Mary Ann Hanke, Fall 2016 Student Intern

The arbitration hearing is the pinnacle step in this process. After a filing a statement of claim, everything you have done has been in preparation of this hearing. You have your arbitrator, you have gone through discovery, and your case is ready. Continue reading

You’ve Filed a Claim – What’s Next? Discovery

By Mary Ann Hanke, Fall 2016 Student Intern

Now that you have filed a claim, gotten an answer, and chosen your arbitrator, it is time to start building your case in preparation for the arbitration hearing.

For your statement of claim, you probably had to do some research and document review of your past account statements, but now you will have the opportunity to obtain more facts and information from the Respondents. In all cases where a hearing is requested, there are presumptively discoverable information that all parties must provide to the other parties.  If that presumptively discoverable information does not fill in any remaining holes, you can also send the other side a Discovery Request. Once you send this to the Respondents, they have the obligation to provide and send the materials in response to such requests or object in limited circumstances. Continue reading

You’ve Filed a Claim – Now What? Arbitrator Selection and Prehearing Conferences

By Mary Ann Hanke, Fall 2016 Student Intern

You have filed a statement of claim, and forty-five days have passed and the answer is officially due. Regardless of whether the Respondents in your claim have actually answered, FINRA will begin the next step in the process, which is arbitrator selection. Continue reading

You’ve Filed a Claim – What’s Next? The Answer

By Mary Ann Hanke, Fall 2016 Student Intern

 It’s election year, so bear with me: Filing a statement of claim against your broker or brokerage firm is a lot like a presidential campaign. How?

Just like you would if you were on a campaign trail, you’ve likely done a lot of preparation leading up to the filing. You (or your attorney) have examined your brokerage statements, determined the amount of money you lost, and written a persuasive statement of claim. And you’ve just filed it with FINRA. Done, right? Continue reading