Three students from the Investor Rights Clinic recently represented Miami Law in a "triathlon" that had little to do with swimming, cycling or running. James Galvin, Bianca Olivadoti, and Gabriela Pirana traveled to New York City to compete in the Securities Dispute Resolution Triathlon, where they placed 7th. Twenty law school teams from around the country competed, which was judged by experienced arbitrators and mediators from the New York area.
"The students performed really well in my humble opinion," said Scott Eichhorn, Supervising Attorney for the Investor Rights Clinic, who coached the students for the competition. "They all had an excellent experience."
The Securities Dispute Resolution Triathlon is a joint initiative of the Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). For two days, student teams from law schools around the country tested their advocacy skills in the negotiation, mediation and arbitration of a securities dispute. Students played the roles of attorneys and clients, with some teams in the role of investor and others in the role of broker-dealer.
"The Securities Dispute Resolution Triathlon was a great learning experience," said Pirana. "Each of us had the opportunity to play the role of counsel and client in the different rounds. It was an eye-opening experience participating in all three phases of a case in litigation and learning how different strategies must be employed for each. We prepared extensively prior to the competition, but what we learned is that a lawyer must always think on his/her feet."
Members of FINRA's roster of experienced neutrals served as mediators, arbitrators and judges, critiquing the student teams and offering the students an invaluable real-life experience. By challenging students to negotiate, mediate, and arbitrate in a single competition, this one-of-a-kind event gave students an opportunity to hone their advocacy skills in a realistic and comprehensive securities dispute experience.
"At the competition, it was interesting to see the feedback we got from different judges," said Olivadoti. "For me, this was an exercise in judgment. I learned that you have to read your mediators, arbitrators, and judges and almost just 'go with the flow.' In a sense, being able to catch on to the subtleties in someone's attitude is an invaluable skill applicable to any kind of dispute resolution vehicle."
The Investor Rights Clinic is a one-semester clinic staffed by second and third-year law students who represent under-served investors in securities arbitration claims against their brokers before the FINRA.