FINRA Attorneys focus on a niche area of FINRA law ranging from investor arbitration claims involving brokers and investors, defending brokers against regulatory inquiries by FINRA Enforcement, the regulatory arm of the securities industry, to representing individual brokers in employment and promissory note arbitrations against large securities brokerage firms. Over 27 years of legal experience to draw from in matters from all across the United States and overseas.
FINRA Arbitration has its own unique procedures including a Code of Arbitration Procedure for both investment disputes and employment disputes which are not applicable to Courts. Most if not all brokerage firms mandate within their opening agreements that investors agree to arbitrate their disputes in FINRA arbitration. Securities Arbitration is a niche area of law that is unique onto itself . Lawyers that specialize in representing both investors and brokers before FINRA Arbitrators are familiar with the forum, the arbitrators, the procedural rules, and how to properly prosecute a case on behalf of an investor or defend a broker.
Investor Related Securities Arbitration Claims - All investors agree via their account opening documents to arbitrate their disputes with any brokerage firm with FINRA Dispute Resolution. The first stage of any Securities Arbitration is for a client to contact a FINRA attorney, so as to review the case and determine if there is a case. Cases can be based on unsuitable investments, over-concentration, churning of accounts with excessive commissions, excessive margin use, unauthorized trading, or fraudulent and/or misleading statements resulting in an investment. Unlike in Court, FINRA arbitration is fairly expedited. There are no depositions and the investor only needs to be present at the hearing which typically last a few days. While one cannot recover funds simply because a broker happen to select poor investments, one can and often do recover substantial sums if the broker did something wrong in handling the account. A broker can make inappropriate recommendations in an account which is not suitable to the particular client's needs. A broker may fail to conduct due diligence on investments he recommended or may have a conflict of interest, such as potential fees he may earn, in recommending the investment which impacted his recommendation. A broker may over-concentrate an account or heavily margin or leverage an account causing losses, or excessively make trades in an account causing large commission losses along with little gains for the investor. A broker may improperly recommend to a potential retiree to take a lump sum payment in retirement rather than continue working and but then invest funds inappropriately rendering it impossible for the retiree to live off such funds. There are many instances which may cause an arbitration claim to arise and any investor who believes they or someone they know may have a claim should contact a qualified FINRA Arbitration Attorneywho will carefully evaluate the case to determine if a claim should be filed. Most attorneys who specialize on such matters accept contingency fees as a form of payment, as long as the losses involved amount to over $75,000. The Meissner Firm has a unique record in over fourteen years of conducting investor arbitrations throughout the country, with offices in many cities, never having lost* any in-person investor arbitration, which confounds overall FINRA statistics which show that from 53%-62% of all customer claims lose every year. While the Meissner firm typically represents investors in such investment disputes, we also use our knowledge to selectively represents individual brokers in successfully defending against investor arbitration claims. An example of one such defense was the complete dismissal of a $600,000 claim against our client (whose name is redacted), a New York broker, in a FINRA arbitration held in Omaha Nebraska where we even utilized a handwriting expert to defeat the claim. Not only was the claim dismissed after the investor completed his case and our expert testified, but our client was even awarded attorney fees and monetary sanctions against the investor Claimant in the award and the panel recommended the expungement of the claim from his record keeping it clean. As a result of his vast experience, Mr. Meissner has published various articles in various publications such as Forbes providing advice to registered representatives and industry professionals on how to avoid regulatory and investor issues. Stockbroker Employment Disputes- All brokers who have employment disputes with their firms typically must arbitrate their disputes before FINRA which would include wrongful discharge, defamation, promissory note disputes, bonus disputes, U5 Disputes. Most brokers are employees "at will" which means they do not have an employment contract and often can be discharged at the whim of their employer unless such was done based on age, race, gender, sex , sexual preference discrimination or in relation to either internal or external (SEC, etc) whistleblowing. However, depending on the State the broker works in and the facts of particular discharge or the firm one is employed with, representatives/advisors very well may and often do have a valid claim for wrongful discharge, if they were not terminated for "just cause" or for some invalid reason. FINRA arbitration claims can be filed and succeed for wrongful discharge depending on the facts. If a broker is discharged or leaves on their own, and they have promissory notes outstanding to their employer, typically such become immediately due and payable in lump sum. Often times however, depending on the circumstances a qualified attorney can negotiate a reduction in the principle owed and a payment plan. Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense if there is a basis to file affirmative claims against the brokerage various causes of action such fraudulently inducing the broker to sign on to the brokerage firm in the first place by making false promises or misleading the broker on various aspects of the employment so as to induce them to leave their prior firm such as our recent July 2017 1.7 million dollar award in favor of a Citizens Securities broker/advisor who originally owed $220,000 on a promissory note. Meissner Associates has represented many individual brokers with regard to such issues, and based on its careful screening process, has always succeeded* in negotiating a substantial discount in principle and a payment plan. At times, brokerage firms may be reluctant to do so and on those occasions we have engaged in aggressive arbitration proceedings until the firm realizes that they are vulnerable to counterclaims and agree to settle at significant discounts. As a result, Meissner Associates is the only firm to our knowledge that offers an unprecedented guarantee to all its promissory note clients which ensures that their expenditure of funds on a retention will not be a waste. Such guarantee is provided upon request.
FINRA Regulatory Defense - FINRA Attorneys who represent brokers in regulatory inquiries have clients who recognize the value of retaining an independent and experienced FINRA attorney who is not beholden in any way to the brokerage firm which may have a conflict of interest. Types of representation include subpoena compliance, OTR or "on the record" depositions, responding to Wells Notices from FINRA , and correcting U5 filings or Broker Check entries containing false information. FINRA often looks to pursue those who it sees as most vulnerable. In other words, they look to pursue the low hanging fruit, individuals who either represents themselves or retains an attorney not familiar with FINRA, in any investigatory matter will be sliced and diced by FINRA enforcement. Individuals who permit their firm to assign them an attorney will similarly often find themselves as being sacrificial lambs for their firm's wrongdoings. While retaining an experienced FINRA Attorney may more expensive than going it alone or with an attorney who is not an experienced FINRA attorney, or retaining one with an obvious conflict, having been retained by the brokerage firm, such is penny wise and pound foolish in the long run.
*Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future matter, including yours, in which a lawyer or law firm may be retained.