How do I know if I have a valid case?
The success of any case depends upon, or at least should depend upon, the merits of that particular case based upon the individual facts and circumstances surrounding your claim, and the legal theories or legally recognized causes of action with respect to your claim.
If you believe that you have been the victim of fraud, that you were lied to, that your broker did not follow your instructions, sold you investments that were defective, or were overly risky, based upon your overall financial condition and status, or made investment recommendations to you to advance his or her own personal financial interest, as opposed to yours, you may or may not have a valid claim, or successfully recover your investment losses in securities arbitration, however, you need to have your claim evaluated by a professional and actively pursue any claim you may have.
If you do not formally bring your claim by filing an action in arbitration or any other forum or court of competent jurisdiction within a specified period of time of the events giving rise to your claim or your knowledge of notice of the facts giving rise to these claims, which varies under state and federal law, your claim may be barred or forever lost under the applicable statutes of limitations. The failure to act, again with the passage of time, may also result in your case being ineligible for submission to arbitration before FINRA. (FINRA Code of Arbitration Procedure.pdf).
No one, except perhaps the securities arbitration Panel that may ultimately decide your claim, whether you have a viable or valid claim. Many cases are won, and lost, in securities arbitrations not based upon the facts, but the arbitration panel’s perception of the facts. The statistics (http://www.finra.org/ArbitrationMediation/AboutFINRADR/Statistics/) are not that encouraging.
However, we cannot advise you, or provide you with any reasonable or reliable guidance, whether you have a valid claim. We can only seek to determine if we, as a law firm, are willing invest our resources, to undertake your representation on a contingent fee, where our only form of compensation comes from the recovery of damages and the successful resolution of your case.
What documents do I need to provide to evaluate my case?
Once we determine that we are permitted to undertake your representation, and determine that no actual or potential conflict of interest may exist, we may offer to investigate or evaluate your potential claim.
In order for us to evaluate your case or claims, it is important that you complete our New Client Questionnaire, as accurately and completely as you can, and return it to us with all the documents associated with your account, including, to the extent possible, you new account forms, customer statements, confirmations, correspondence, complaints (of any kind), risk analyses, investor questionnaires, or any other documents you may have or that your feel are important to your case or claim.
You may send us copies of these documents, or you can send your original documents, provided that you send them by a secure and trackable means such as Federal Express, DHL , UPS, or Priority mail from the United States Post Office.
By permitting us to review or evaluate any potential claim you may have, before we representation is offer to you a written fee agreement formally undertaking your representation in we are assuming no responsibility, and shall not be responsible should it later be determined that any putative claim was not brought in a timely manner, or is forever barred or lost, as a result of the applicable statute of limitation.
As part of the firm’s Green Initiative , potential clients are also encouraged to send us documents, when possible, by electronic means.
What happens if you decide to undertake my representation?
If we decide to undertake your representation, we provide to you a written fee agreement setting forth the scope of our representation, the terms of our compensation, and our respective rights and responsibilities. Except with respect to confidentiality, it is only when this written offer is made and accepted that an attorney client relationship is effected.
We then draft a Statement of Claim, which is a formal document setting forth the facts and the legal basis of your claim, for your review and comment, along with a Uniform Submission Agreement (FINRA Uniform Submission Agreement.pdf) agreeing to be bound by the Code of Arbitration Procedure.
What happens if you decide not to undertake my representation?
If we decide not to undertake your representation, we return any original documents that you may have provided us to you, we destroy copies of any documents you may have provided to us, and we sent to you a written communication, as promptly as possible, indicating that we have declined to accept your representation.
If we decide not to undertake your representation, you need not be discouraged, and should you actively consult with other qualified counsel in connection with investigation or the pursuit of any claim that you may have. In any event, you should not rely upon why we may have decided not to represent you, but if you fail to act, and formally file your claim, as set forth above, your claim may be forever barred or lost.
Should I change brokers, or brokerage firms?
While some brokerage firms (it is a growing trend) request that clients who complain take their accounts elsewhere, it is not necessary that you close or transfer your accounts upon the filing of a Statement of Claim. However, if you have received what you believe to be tainted or wrongful investment advice from your broker or brokerage firm, you are no longer justified, or have any reasonable basis to rely upon the advice that individual or the integrity of that institution, and you may seek to engage an alternative investment firm or professional.
However, client are urged to thoroughly investigate any new potential financial advisor, stockbroker (link: Broker Check), or investment advisor, and be sure that their investment objectives, risk tolerance, and other important information is fully completed on all account forms or other documents before they sign or execute any of these forms.
Should I sell the securities that are the subject of my claim?
We also cannot provide you with any investment advice, and cannot predict if any of the securities you own, or which may be the subject of your arbitration claim, may increase or decrease in value. If you independently determine to hold these securities, and they decline in value, Respondent will argue that they are not responsible, and conversely, if you continue to own these securities and they increase in value, Respondent will argue that your damages have been decreased. Investment decisions, generally, should be made without regard to the existence or anticipated outcome of any litigation, but in any event, we are unable to provide you with any investment related advice.
How long does the process take?
The entire securities arbitration process generally takes 12-15 months from the filing of the Statement of Claim to a final hearing. Respondents will have 45 days from the date they receive the Statement of Claim to answer, and most likely may request additional time (which will not affect the process).
We will review the Answer and send it to you with our comments. We also seek your comments, as to factual matters or the existence of documents.
Thereafter, receive a list of proposed FINRA Securities Arbitrators, their educational background and their occupational background. We research them, strike the ones perceived to be unsympathetic, rank the ones we think may be sympathetic to the facts in our case.
Discovery is then prepared, and we also sent to you a list of documents ((Discovery Guide.pdf) that you will be required to provide to us for review and production to Respondents.
We have a telephonic conference or Initial Pre-Hearing Conference ("IPHC") with the lawyers and the arbitrators which results in a scheduling order with respect to motions and final hearing dates. We also send a notice to our clients setting forth these important dates, and at each stage of the process.
The final hearing will be 9-12 months from that conference, typically.
What are my responsibilities?
The Client’s responsibilities are to be candid with their counsel, and not omit facts, documents, or information that they do not believe is important, negative, or not helpful in their case. The client also has a duty to fully cooperate with respect to discovery, fully cooperate with the requests of counsel, and to make themselves available for their preparation and attendance at any final hearing.
If there is any reason, health related, or otherwise which may reasonably prevent you or an important witness from testifying at any final hearing, you should so advise us so as we may request leave to seek to preserve this testimony by deposition.
Should you receive notice or learn that any claim, or any security that is the subject of this arbitration, is also the subject or becomes the subject of a Class Action, you must advise us immediately and also may be required to opt-out and request to be excluded from any such Class Action, or else your arbitration claim may later be determined to have been included, and thereby barred in connection with the settlement or disposition of any Class Action.
To what extent any recovery may be taxable, or to what extent you may be required to itemize the payment of our legal fees from any recovery should be determined by your tax preparer. We are incompetent to provide tax advice, and hence cannot form an opinion or provide you with any reliable advice with respect to the taxability of any recovery.