The Firm represents clients in:
- securities actions, including shareholder class-action litigation;
- shareholder derivative actions;
- mergers-and-acquisitions litigation;
- broker-dealer arbitration proceedings;
- investigations and enforcement actions by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, FINRA and other federal, state and non-U.S. regulators; and
- internal investigations conducted by corporations and their boards of directors.
Our attorneys have deep experience in litigating some of the most complicated securities matters, including multi-district litigation (MDL) proceedings around the United States. Because securities litigation is complex, we pride ourselves on carefully the investigating the merits of any claim before advising our clients on the best path. Our investigation includes an analysis of the facts and law involved in your matter and then applying that analysis to your goals and expectations.
WHAT IS FINRA?
FINRA is the self-regulatory organization charged with overseeing and regulating the conduct of its members who are stock brokerage firms, and those firms’ employees. Along with its regulatory responsibilities, FINRA also maintains a separate organization called FINRA Dispute Resolution, which is responsible for administering all arbitration claims against its member firms and their employees.
IS ARBITRATION REQUIRED?
Virtually every stock brokerage firm’s account opening documents and agreements contain an agreement to arbitrate any dispute between you and the firm. If you want to open an investment account, you must agree to arbitrate your disputes.
THE FINRA ARBITRATION PROCESS
Arbitration is a private proceeding that in certain respects works similarly to a court proceeding. FINRA arbitrations are conducted under a set of rules referred to as the FINRA Rules of Procedure, which set forth the process through which your claim is filed and litigated against the brokerage firm. Unlike a court proceeding, there is no judge or jury. Rather, each side selects a panel of three (3) arbitrators from lists of potential arbitrators provided to them by FINRA. The arbitrators selected will make decisions regarding the parties’ legal and factual positions throughout the proceedings. The discovery process is far more limited than a court proceeding, and is largely limited to the exchange of documents by the parties. You will not have your deposition taken, nor will you have an opportunity to take any depositions. After discovery is complete, if the parties are unable to reach a negotiated settlement, there is a trial, also referred to as a “final hearing.” Then you and the brokerage firm will have the opportunity to present evidence and legal arguments, after which the arbitration panel will render its award.
HOW LONG DOES THE ARBITRATION PROCESS TAKE?
Generally, the arbitration process is far quicker than court proceedings and clients can generally expect their case to be completed in 9-14 months.
WILL MY CASE SETTLE?
Although there is no way to predict the result of your claim, FINRA arbitration claims are frequently resolved through settlement. Many cases settle through a voluntary settlement conference, also known as a mediation. In mediation, a neutral mediator selected and approved by both you and the brokerage firm facilitates settlement discussions, but does not rule on any disputed issues or make any binding decisions regarding your claim. Instead, the mediator listens to the parties’ discussions regarding the relative strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case, and then using that information, seeks to assist in a negotiated settlement of your claim. Mediated settlements often are the best path to a satisfactory outcome of your claims. Parties in mediation have the ability to control their fate, rather than have the result dictated by the arbitration panel. A settlement saves the costs of litigation, eliminates risk, and allows both parties to get on with their lives without the stress associated with litigation. Even when mediation does not result in a settlement, parties generally learn something more about their case, and their opponent’s defenses.