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.

Home is Where the Start Is: Observations from a Client Home Visit

HeLP - Michael Costello

By: Michael Costello, Fall 2018 HeLP Legal Services Clinic Intern

The most significant part of an attorney’s work on a case is to investigate the facts.  The facts will influence the claim to be asserted, allow you to calculate the likelihood of success, and help determine the most persuasive legal theories to advance to advocate for the client.  Importantly, facts may sometimes change over time, or become slightly different when looked at objectively.

Recently, while working on a childhood disability Supplemental Security Income case, my partner and I conducted a visit to a client’s home, which revealed a change to the facts in a case that already has been pending in the HeLP Legal Services Clinic for two years.  A comfortable interview environment for both the parent and child revealed new information that was beneficial to the case.  Also, the opportunity to visually observe how life is for the child in their everyday environment provided new facts that will allow for more persuasive advocacy.  The new facts learned during the home visit will enable us to formulate new arguments to use that will help this client get her child’s benefits reinstated.

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Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration: Working Alongside Medical Students

By: Rebecca Dickinson, Fall 2018 HeLP Legal Services Clinic Intern

The first time I looked through a client’s medical records I came across the word “otorrhea.” Curious, I googled the term and clicked on the first link. I immediately regretted my decision when four large pictures of ear discharge popped up on my computer screen. I quickly exited out of the browser and resumed looking through the records trying to forget the images I had just viewed. Later, I realized I could have just asked one of the medical students sitting in the workroom across the hall.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the HeLP Clinic is the collaborative partnership we have with Morehouse School of Medicine. Having clients with a wide variety of medical conditions can make combing through medical records complicated and time consuming. Luckily, medical students working in the clinic alongside the law students makes this process much easier. Instead of constantly looking up terms, we have people who can answer any questions we have, explain complex medical terminology, and help relate medical conditions to legal aspects of our cases. By collaborating with the medical students, we are able to provide the best legal advice and service to our clients and their children. We waste less time trying to teach ourselves the medical side of the case, and more time learning from the medical students. We are then able to focus more on helping our clients’ children receive Supplemental Security Income benefits, effective Individualized Education Plans, and better housing situations. I feel more confident in my legal analysis on certain cases after consulting with a medical student to ensure every aspect of a client’s situation is included in the argument.

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Client-Centered Practice: An Attorney’s Role in an IEP Meeting

By: Morgan Schroeder, Fall 2018 HeLP Legal Services Clinic Intern

An IEP is an individualized education plan, and thousands of students across the United States currently have one in place with their schools. This individual plan is used to create educational goals for students who struggle in school or have a disability that affects their ability to learn. Creating this plan requires the time and attention of many school officials, the parent and student, potentially doctors and specialists, and of course, attorneys. All children in the United States have a right to a free public education, and many laws also protect students against discrimination in education based on disability. This means schools often have an attorney present to both protect the school’s interests and make sure these rights are being implemented. However, a parent can also benefit from being represented by an attorney. Parents want to make sure that their children are learning and improving, but an IEP includes many provisions that a parent may not completely understand. The parent may be afraid to ask questions, or provide input into the goals because they are not an expert in education. Maybe they don’t want to question what the school is saying because they believe the school is doing what is best for their child. Or perhaps they don’t know the full extent of their child’s rights or what other options are available. This is where an attorney can be very valuable to a parent, and can help protect their child’s right to receive a quality education.

A strong attorney-client relationship is essential to creating a successful and useful IEP. The parent needs to trust their attorney, and understand how the attorney can help them in this setting. With this trust, the parent will be more willing to divulge information about their child, discussing their child’s strengths and weaknesses inside and outside the classroom. The attorney’s role will depend on the client’s needs. If the parent addresses their concerns to their attorney, the attorney can speak up at the IEP meeting on their behalf, asking questions and making suggestions. The attorney can draft provisions that incorporate the parent’s questions and concerns to ensure they are reflected within the IEP. The attorney can review what the school has written and make sure everything that was agreed to is included. And the attorney can make sure that the school follows through with what was agreed to.

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The Need for Health Law Services in Rural Communities

By: Emma Fennelly, Fall 2018 HeLP Legal Services Clinic Intern

Rural communities have special needs when it comes to accessibility. These needs manifest in many different ways: rural communities often suffer from food insecurity due to food deserts; they have fewer options when choosing school systems for their children; they have fewer opportunities for employment; they often lack affordable or subsidized housing; they lack modes of public transportation; they often have little to no access to healthcare; and they often have little to no access to legal services. Due to these deficiencies, many individuals and families in rural communities simply go without, exacerbating their educational, financial, and health issues and contributing to the cyclical nature of poverty.

Health law can seem somewhat ambiguous. As I have learned through my time in the HeLP Clinic, which partners with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to serve families with children with severe health concerns, health law is an all-encompassing field which aims to help individuals address their health concerns that impact every area of their lives. Many clients, particularly those with less affluent backgrounds, are unaware of their legal rights regarding health and, in turn, do not receive the services they should to support their health needs. From housing deficiencies and inadequate education to denial of public benefits, health law attorneys seek to empower their clients with the knowledge of their legal rights to benefits and services, improving their overall quality of life. Rural communities, however, often lack any access to health law attorneys due to their locality. This fact is especially problematic as rural communities have such specialized needs stemming from their lack of accessibility.

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