Find The Right Attorney
One of the
most important decisions that an investor or financial professional can
make in the securities arbitration process is the selection of a securities
attorney. Securities arbitration is a unique and complex process, that
requires a special skill set for a successful outcome.
arbitration is not the civil court arbitration proceeding that some investors
might be familiar with. This is not the setting where one sits in a conference
room with the other side and talks about the case, hoping to reach a resolution.
A securities arbitration hearing is a trial, conducted in a conference
room, but with most of the formality and structure of a trial. There are
opening statements, and objections, and most importanly, cross-examination
of all witnesses by the other sides' attorney.
professionals and brokerage firms know the importance of using experienced
securities attorneys. They have attorneys on retainer or on staff who
are knowledgable not only regarding the securities arbitration process,
but the rules and regulations that govern the securities business. Investors
however, often turn to a family friend or other non securities attorney
for this important representation.
sets an investor up for a less than ideal outcome. The respondents are
represented by a securities attorney with years of securities arbitration
experience, and the investor is represented by an experienced personal
injury attorney. The firm's securities attorney has handled hundreds of
arbitrations and hearings, and the investor's attorney has handled two.
That match-up cannot possibly benefit the investor in the case. Worse,
some investors use the services of non-attorneys, so called investor arbitration
consultants, for this important representation.
consultants, who are not attorneys, and in some cases are actually former
brokers who were barred from the securities industry, simply do not have
the training that an attorney has. Incredibly, they charge the same fees
career, or life savings, on the line, why would anyone trust this important
service to an inexperienced attorney or a former broker?
no reason to do so. Virtually every securities arbitration attorney in
the country will represent an injured customer with a valid claim on a
contingency, charging a small flat fee plus a percentage of the ultimate
recovery. No recovery, no fee. On the broker side, while contingencies
are not available, reasonble hourly rates are.
Find a Securities Attorney Specializing in Securities. If you need
help in finding a attorney who specializes in resolving securities complaints,
you may want to try the following: If you already have a lawyer, consult
with him or her about your options and whether you need a lawyer who specializes
in securities law. You may want to call several bar associations to obtain
a varied listing of attorneys in your area, but make sure that the listings
are for securities litigation attorneys, not personal injury lawyers.
your list of potential securities attorneys by consulting directories
of attorneys. Martindale-Hubbell and Findlaw both have websites with attorney
directories, by area of practice. Keep in mind that attorney in these
directories have paid to be in those directories, and are not necessarily
your best choice.
You can search
Google and Yahoo! for
securities attorneys. Simply use the search phrase "securities
attorney" or "securities
lawyer" or "securities
arbitration attorney" and you will find the web sites of attorneys
practicing in the area. Once again, be careful of "sponsored"
listings at these search engines, for those listings are paid for by the
attorney. Google and Yahoo! display results in what the search engine
believes is the most relevant sites. The top listings in Google and Yahoo
should be the web sites which are referred to by other web sites, and
an excellent place to start your attorney search.
location of the attorney is not as important as the experience and qualifications
of the attorney. Attorneys who represent parties in securities arbitration
cases do not need to be admitted to practice law in the state where you
live, or where the arbitration is held.
need to know. Whether you are an investor, or a financial professional,
there are important facts that you need to know from your proposed attorney,
and questions that you should ask. Do not be embarrassed or afraid to
ask these questions - your attorney is actually expecting you to ask these
questions - or at least he should be if he is truly an experienced securities
What specific background does the attorney have in arbitrating securities
claims? Ask how many arbitration cases he has handled, and more importantly,
how many cases he has actually taken to a hearing. An attorney who has
handled 100 cases, but only 10 hearings, is not an experienced attorney.
He may be a great negotiator, since he must settle over 90% of his cases,
but he is not experienced at conducting arbitration hearings. You may
want a quick settlement, and this might be a positive factor. But if you
are serious about recovering your losses, or defending your license, this
may not be the attorney for you.
Who will be your contact person at the firm, and make sure there is
a specific person who you can call with questions or for updates. Ideally
you should be able to speak to the attorney handling your case, but for
routine matters, an associate or paralegal should be available to answer
questions and return telephone calls within a few hours. Ask for the individual
attorney's email address, and find out if he can communicate with you
by email, which is often the best way to get answers to your questions.
of evaluation. Whether you are an investor or a broker, it is important
to know that your case will be scrutinized for all potential claims and
defenses. An experienced securities attorney will examine your facts,
and perhaps the underlying securities themselves, to insure that all potential
claims and defenses are examined.
Make sure that the attorney you retain is the attorney who will be trying
your case. Ask about status reports, telephone or email updates, and billing
Ask about the costs, filing fees, and the attorney's policy on disbursements.
Disbursement costs can vary greatly, and should be only the actual cost,
without markups. Does the attorney charge for Lexis or Westlaw database
access? Ask, as those charges can be over $100 per hour alone. Get an
estimate as to the cost of an expert witness. Some attorneys use their
expert witness from the first day of the case, and have him at the hearings
every day. Since you are paying the attorney, and the expert witness,
make sure you are not paying twice. Discuss all filing fees, hearing session
fees, mediation fees, and travel costs with your lawyer before you retain
him and make sure you understand what you are expected to pay.
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