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. The Clinic represents all of its clients on a pro-bono basis. Director Robert A. Uhl and Associate Director Judith Hale Norris supervise the Investor Advocacy Clinic.
The Investor Advocacy Clinic operates on a fall semester through spring semester cycle. Students will be involved in real arbitration cases and are encourages, but not required, to stay involved during the summer. Clinic students will be required to write a research paper during their one-year enrollment in the Clinic.
Students who maintain a "B" average and who have taken or are enrolled in an Evidence class may apply at the end of their first or second law school year. A maximum of five students will be selected for the Investor Advocacy Clinic. As part of the application process, students will submit a one page double-spaced essay explaining why they want to be admitted into the Investor Advocacy Clinic.
The fall semester Clinic is a three credit Clinic and meets Tuesdays from 4-6pm. The spring Clinic is a two credit Clinic and meets Tuesdays from 4-6pm. During the fall semester, Director/Professor Uhl will teach securities arbitration law in order to aid the students in representing the Clinic's clients in arbitrations. Students will not receive credit for either semester unless the full two semester commitment is fulfilled.
ARBITRATIONS AND MEDIATIONS BEFORE FINRA DISPUTE RESOLUTION
The five California Bar certified law students, under supervision, handle arbitrations and mediations before FINRA Dispute Resolution on behalf of California investors who have claims less than $100,000, household incomes of less than $100,000 and who have arbitral disputes with their 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. 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.
Straus Institute's Investor Advocacy Clinic is the only FINRA funded Clinic to win every arbitration case tried by the Clinic and no FINRA funded Clinic has had more wins or recovered more money for its clients. The Clinics 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 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 Clinic also settled Nevler vs. Madison Avenue Securities Inc et.al. for 100% of the Clinic client's losses. The Clinic continued its winning record by settling another case in mediation. A Pepperdine student delivered the opening argument at the mediation and all five of the Pepperdine students strategized under Uhl's supervision to achieve a settlement. The settlement was a landmark result for the Investor Advocacy Clinic because it resulted in the largest percentage return of the client's investment losses. In fact, the settlement recovery returned more than 100% of the Clinic's client's losses. Never before, whether an actual arbitration or settlement, has the Investor Advocacy Clinic been able to make its client more than 100% whole.
STUDENT PUBLISHED ARTICLES
Straus Institute is the only FINRA funded Clinic to have produced back–to back First Place winners in the national James E. Beckley Student Writing Competition. 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. The First Prize honor consists of a $1,000 cash award, an all expenses paid trip to accept the James E. Beckley Award at the Annual PIABA Convention, and the publication of the First Place winner's article in the PIABA Bar Journal. PIABA announced that Bryce Cullinane (JD 2014), at the time a third year law student in the Investor Advocacy Clinic, won First Prize in the 2014 James E. Beckley Writing Competition. Bryce was enrolled in the Arbitration in the Securities Industry class taught by Investor Advocacy Clinic Director/ Adjunct Professor Uhl when he wrote, as his class research paper, the winning article entitled The Ponzi Scheme Conundrum.
Caitlyn Crisp (JD, 2012) also won First Prize in the 2013 James E. Beckley Writing Competition for her article entitled " Ponzi Scheme Clawbacks: Are They Equitable?" In 2011, Coy Garrison (JD, 2012) won Third Prize in PIABA's Beckley Writing competition for his article entitled "Non-Traditional Customers in FINRA Arbitration: The Need For A Broad Interpretation of FINRA Rule 12200". Caitlyn and Coy were both enrolled in Director/ Adjunct Professor Uhl's "Arbitration In the Securities Industry class at the time they wrote their articles.
PIABA also published Jeffrey Shawn Majors' (JD 2013) article entitled Discoverability of Wells Submissions: What They Are and How to Get Them in the 2012 PIABA Bar Journal. Mr. Majors was a student in the Fall 2011 Arbitration In the Securities Industry Class and an Investor Advocacy Clinic student until his graduation in May 2013.
Meet the Faculty:
Robert 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 by The 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 JD degree from Fordham University where he was a member of the Fordham Law Review and on the Dean's List.
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.