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Investor Advocacy Clinic Program

Pepperdine University School of Law's Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution was awarded a $250,000 grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to establish a comprehensive clinical education program in Investor Advocacy. Founder and Director Robert A. Uhl and Associate Director Judith Hale Norris supervise the Investor Advocacy Clinic.

As a prerequisite to participation in the Clinic, Director Uhl teaches a two-hour, two credit course on Arbitration Law in the Securities Industry during the fall semester to Clinic 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, Director Uhl and Associate Director Norris select five second year law students who must commit to continued participation in assigned clinic cases during the following spring and fall terms. During the summer, students are encouraged, but are not required, to be involved in their cases. Students receive two units of credit for every semester they enroll in the Clinic.

The selected students do not receive compensation but benefit from serving the public interest, earning course credit and gaining valuable experience representing clients in actual cases.


Under supervision, the five students represent California investors who have claims less than $100,000, household incomes less than $100,000 and arbitral disputes with their securities brokers and/or brokerage firms. In the Clinic, students learn critical lawyering skills generally not taught in purely doctrinal courses. For example, students interview potential clients, draft statements of claim, conduct discovery, prepare legal memoranda, work with experts who serve as financial consultants, and conduct arbitrations and mediations before FINRA Dispute Resolution.

Pepperdine is the only FINRA funded Clinic to win every arbitration case tried by the Clinic. No FINRA funded Clinic has had more wins. The Clinic's first case, Surinder Paul, et al. vs. FSC Securities Corp., et al., was settled in mediation and Pepperdine students delivered the opening argument and negotiated the settlement agreement under Uhl's supervision. The second case, Susan Jenkins vs. Crowell Weedon & Co., resulted in a make whole award for the client and Pepperdine students delivered the opening statement and direct examination of Susan Jenkins. A third case, Robert Olson vs. Morgan Wilshire, et al., also resulted in a make whole award, and again a Pepperdine student delivered the opening statement and conducted the direct examination of the client.

The Clinic also won an arbitration award in Christianne Meier vs. Newport Securities, Inc., et al., wherein two students participated in the drafting of the questions for each witness, prepared and delivered the opening statement, and even testified as a fact witness.

The Investor Advocacy Clinic's California Bar certified law students are listed as the investor's counsel on the FINRA Arbitration Awards, which are available to the public. The Clinic has several pending arbitrations which should be tried within the next 12 months.


The Public Investor Bar Association (PIABA) each year sponsors the James E. Beckley Student Writing Competition for law students interested in securities arbitration and securities law. The competition is open to all students who attend law school in the United States. Two students enrolled in Director Uhl's Arbitration Law in the Securities Industry class won top prizes in the prestigious writing competition. Coy Garrison was enrolled in Director Uhl's 2011 Class at the time he wrote his winning article (Third Prize) entitled "Non-Traditional Customers in FINRA Arbitration: The Need For A Broad Interpretation of FINRA Rule 12200". Caitlin Crisp was enrolled in Director Uhl's 2012 Class when she wrote her winning article (First Prize) entitled "Ponzi Scheme Clawbacks: Are They Equitable".

PIABA also published an article in the PIABA Bar Journal by Jeffrey Shawn Majors, who was a student in the Fall 2011 Class and an Investor Advocacy Clinic student, entitled "Discoverability of Wells Submissions: What They are and How to Get Them". He was also one of the authors of an article entitled "The Time For A Uniform Fiduciary Duty is Now", which is published in the St. John's Law Review.

Meet the Faculty:

Robert UhlRobert A. Uhl sits as a FINRA arbitrator and is a member of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA). Professor Uhl has appeared on Fox News and has been quoted on securities matters byThe Wall Street Journal, Registered Representative Magazine, CBS Marketwatch and by other members of the national and local press. Since 2005 Professor Uhl has been recognized as a Southern California Super Lawyer by Los Angeles Magazine. Mr. Uhl has authored more than 25 articles in the securities arbitration field.

Professor Uhl was appointed as the first Director of the Pepperdine University School of Law's Investor Advocacy Clinic which received a grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to establish the clinic. He also teaches a course on securities arbitration. He is a member of the Council of Distinguished Advisors of the Straus Institute of Pepperdine University School of Law. 

Professor Uhl received his J.D. degree from Fordham University where he was a member of the Fordham Law Review and on the Dean's List.


Judy Norris Judith Hale Norris is the Associate Director of the Pepperdine University School of Law Investor Advocacy Clinic which received a generous grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation.  Ms. Norris previously served as Vice President and Director for the Western Region of FINRA Dispute Resolution.   Before joining FINRA in 1986, Ms. Norris served as Chief Staff Counsel for the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She also served as an Assistant US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and as a trial and appellate attorney for the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC.  Ms. Norris received her Bachelors degree from the University of Maine and her Juris Doctor degree from Boston University School of Law.  She received her Mediator Certificate from the Institute of Conflict Management. 

Ms. Norris is the Co-Chair of the Council of Distinguished Advisors, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University School of Law.

In the News:

Pepperdine Law Magazine - Fall 2011

January 6, 2011

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