Articles Posted in Small Investors

I get just as excited about a $15,000 win by the University of San Francisco School of Law’s Investor Justice Clinic (“IJC”) as I do by a six-figure recovery at my securities law firm.

On October 30, 2017, an arbitrator with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) awarded $14,750 plus interest to a 63-year-old woman from Lake Forest, California who was invested in a risky and unsuitable investment strategy that involved commodities futures.  Given the small dollar amount involved and the level of effort required to pursue this case, it is doubtful that the customer would’ve been able to afford to hire an experienced securities arbitration lawyer.

FINRA’s Simplified Arbitration Process

school.jpgIt is a rare event when law students at the Investor Justice Clinic have the opportunity to participate in a securities arbitration case that goes all the way to hearing. The claim in question involved a Washington Mutual (WAMU) bank customer who was referred to the bank’s on-site stockbroker. The stockbroker was not a bank employee, but an employee of the bank’s stock broker affiliate. In this case, WAMU bank’s broker affiliate was WAMU Investments Inc., which later became Chase Investment Services LLC.

The trouble started when a helpful WAMU bank teller noticed that the customer had a large amount of cash sitting in her account and recommended that she speak with a WAMU financial advisor who could get her a better return on her assets.

[See related blog posting: Investor Alert: Beware of Stockbrokers That Prey on Bank Customers]

Small investors and seniors who are unable to afford a securities lawyer and have suffered investment losses due to account mismanagement or securities fraud may qualify for free legal assistance from the Investor Justice Clinic, a law clinic operated by the University of San Francisco School of Law in San Francisco, California. I am proud to be working with the students and clients at the Investor Justice Clinic as a supervising attorney and adjunct professor at the university. The Clinic is a valuable resource for small investors that cannot find a securities lawyer willing to take their case on either an hourly or contingent fee basis.

Securities claims against stockbrokers are typically resolved through arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Law students at the Investor Justice Clinic help investors prepare and submit securities arbitration claims. The students are supervised by law professors, securities lawyers and experts in the field of securities.

To qualify for the Clinic’s free legal services, the investor must have suffered damages that are less than $35,000 and have a household income under $50,000. However, these requirements may be waived under special circumstances. The Clinic’s clients are typically located in the western half of the United States, but this is not a requirement.