Shareholder Sean Sweeney debriefs the question of whether or not you need a lawyer for FINRA arbitration.

Do I need a lawyer for my FINRA arbitration?

  • Yes, the percentage of claimants who are able to recover on their own is abysmal.
  • Wall Street has created a great way to protect themselves, requiring FINRA Arbitration
  • Your opponent will have experienced counsel defending the case.

“The short answer is, “Yes”, you need a lawyer to help you bring your claim in FINRA arbitration. Now, perhaps I’m saying that because I’m a lawyer who brings those claims, but the statistics bear it out. The percentage of claimants who are able to recover on their own, without counsel, is abysmal. The percentage that they win is less than 40%, and the amount that they recover, is even less than that. And so the reality is, if you think you’ve been harmed by your financial advisor, and you believe you have a claim, then you need to find counsel. Think about it. You are suing some of the biggest banks in the world, bringing a claim against a Wall Street Bank. In a forum that they created to help protect themselves. And if you don’t think that they’re going to spend significant money hiring experienced counsel, who’s going to use every trick they know to try to confuse the facts, or what the duty was, make it seem like you’re the one being unreasonable, then you’re just mistaken. That’s exactly what they’re going to do. And what you need, is counsel who’s experienced in these cases.

So what do we do? What do we actually do when we bring one of these claims? Well first, we draft the statement of claims. Meaning we put together the case and really frame it in a way that is going to be most persuasive to the panel of arbitrators who’s ultimately determining in your case. We have the experience to know what it is that the arbitrators want to hear, what they find it important, what facts really need to be highlighted, how it is that we set the table for bringing this claim. The next thing that we do is that we rank and pick the arbitrators for your case. This is something we put a significant amount of time and effort into. Our firm maintains a database of every arbitrator that we’ve ever had given in any list to us on any case. We keep track of every decision they’ve ever made, comments that other counsel had about them, experiences we’ve had with them in the past. All these things that go along with their biographical information that they provide, to help us make the ranking to determine who it is that we strike, who we rank highly, and how we influence picking a panel. The next thing we’re going to do is do all of the work regarding discovery. In these cases, the really document-heavy cases, where we’re trying to get documents out of the broker-dealer, out of the company that your financial advisor worked for. To prove what was going on in the account. What was compliance doing? What’s do their own internal rules say about the type of investment that are in issue? How have they dealt with other issues that were similar. Did the broker get flagged for any of the activity that he was engaging in? Had he been reprimanded in the past for similar activities? All those types of things take a lot of time and effort and you have to know the right questions to ask, what the forms look like, and what it is that you’re looking for to have any chance of pulling those documents out of the broker-dealer to be able to prove the case.

And then of course, we help advise the client on the value of the claim and how to work on settlement, whether that’s through a mediation or through direct negotiations between the lawyers. It’s valuable to have a third-party, your attorney, to help you understand what’s a good offer, what’s not a good offer, help you evaluate your risk of going to a hearing, what your likelihood of succeeding is. All of those things are going to help you settle a case. In fact, the vast majority of cases do settle, especially those with counsel, because we can help work out those issues and help us reach a resolution.

And then finally, for the small percentage of cases that don’t settle, that go to a final hearing, and this is where your attorneys are really earning their money. They’re showing up, they’re presenting all of the evidence, they’re asking all the questions. They’re putting on your case. Doing an opening statement, they’re questioning the witnesses, they’re cross-examining the witnesses, they’re making legal objections. Most the time, the chairpersons for these panels are either former judges, former lawyers, or even trained in some way and they expect that the rules of evidence if not strictly followed, or at least going to be paid attention to, during the hearing, and you want counsel there who can help you do that. So, while you are allowed, under the FINRA rules, to precede without an attorney, in my opinion, it’s a bad idea and it’s not just because this is what we do, but it’s because we’ve seen what happens to those people who don’t retain counsel. So to answer the question, “Do you need a lawyer for FINRA arbitration?”, is an emphatic, “Yes!”.”

The Securities Lawyers practice group at Halling & Cayo, S.C. can help. We take cases all over the country, and we only get paid if we win. Contact us to set up a meeting to review your case.