Pepperdine’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution will launch the Investor Advocacy Clinic with an opening reception on Jan. 6, 2011. The clinic will accept stock brokerage claims, and qualified clients who lack the financial resources to obtain legal counsel will not pay legal fees.
Robert A. Uhl, founding director of the Investor Advocacy Clinic explained, “The primary reason the clinic was established was to reach out to investors who believe they have been wronged by their brokerage firms, but whose losses or claims are not large enough to justify an attorney taking the case on a contingency basis, or lack the financial resources to retain an attorney to represent them.”
The recently formed clinic was funded by a $250,000 grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation. Pepperdine law students who participate in the clinic earn course credit and gain experience representing clients in actual cases. Director Uhl and associate director Judith Hale Norris supervise the Investor Advocacy Clinic and are actively seeking potential cases.
As a prerequisite to participation in the clinic, Uhl taught a weekly two-hour, two-credit course on arbitration law in the securities industry during the fall semester to eligible second-year law students and non-clinic eligible third-year students. The course gives students an in-depth legal, procedural and practical knowledge of arbitration and mediation of investor disputes prior to representing clients.
During the fall course, Uhl and Norris selected five students, who will remain with the clinic until they graduate. Under supervision, the five students will handle arbitrations and mediations before FINRA on behalf of California investors who have claims less than $100,000 and household incomes of less than $100,000 and who have arbitral disputes with their securities brokers and/or brokerage firms.
Students will work on critical lawyering skills, including client interviewing and counseling, fact investigation, evaluation, drafting statements of claim, participating in discovery, legal research, preparation of legal memoranda, and possibly working with experts who serve as financial consultants, conducting an arbitration and/or mediation or negotiating a settlement. In addition, students will also participate in investor education and investor protection needs.
The securities arbitration clinic will join Pepperdine's four other Clinical Programs: the Pepperdine Legal Aid and Family Law clinics at the Union Rescue Mission, the Special Education Advocacy Clinic, and the Asylum Clinic.
For more information contact the clinic at 310-506-6098 or via e-mail.