Investor Rights Clinic Advocates for Elderly Investors on Capitol Hill

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Investor Rights Clinic Fellow and 2L O. Jean Strickland recently had the unique opportunity to represent investors – not in arbitration or court – but before Congressional staffers on Capitol Hill.  Strickland joined the IRC’s Director, Teresa Verges, on Capitol Hill as part of the annual Hill Day sponsored by the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association. PIABA members are counsels who represent investors harmed by broker misconduct.

Teresa Verges & O. Jean Strickland

Strickland helped prepare materials and talking points for Hill Day presentations in support of the Senior$afe Act, which offers financial firms a safe harbor for reporting suspected financial abuse of the elderly.

In addition to the Senior$afe Act, she and Professor Verges briefed Congressional aides on other investor protection issues, including the Department of Labor’s new Fiduciary Rule, which the finance industry is trying to delay or repeal and the growing problem of unpaid arbitration awards, among other issues. During Hill Day, they joined 30 PIABA members in meetings with 120 Senate and House staffers.

“PIABA’s Hill Day allowed me to advance the interests of investors through active participation in our country’s legislative process,” said Strickland.  “I was gratified for a number of reasons to share insights with policymakers based upon our clinic’s direct-services work with clients . . . not the least of which is because our policy makers seemed genuinely interested in the clinic’s perspective.  I highly recommend participation in Hill Day to any law student with the opportunity to do so, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate this year.”

Student interns in the Investor Rights Clinic learn practical skills and receive training on representing defrauded investors in mediation and arbitration claims before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). As a fellow, Strickland completed a semester internship with the IRC and returned as a fellow to serve as mentor to new interns, work on more advanced case assignments and participate in special advocacy and policy projects.  In addition to her participation at Hill Day, she drafted a comment letter on behalf of the IRC to file with the Department of Labor, urging that it not delay implementation of the “fiduciary rule,” which requires financial advisors to put their clients’ interests before their own financial interests.

“We strive to provide all our interns with first-hand experience and training in interviewing clients, conducting factual and legal investigation of potential claims, and handling all aspects of a FINRA arbitration and mediation,” explained Verges.  “We provide our returning fellows with advanced experiences and encourage them to think about affecting change through alternative methods, such as through outreach projects, legislative comment letters and other forms of advocacy. Jean did a wonderful job making the case for the Senior$afe Act on the Hill.”

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