Securities Fraud Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in For Securities Arbitration Attorneys

In a move intended to emphasize that FINRA’s ultimate mandate is to protect investors, the SRO’s National Adjudicatory Council last week issued newly-revised Sanction Guidelines including tougher ranges of recommended punishments to be meted out against member firms or brokers who commit fraud or make unsuitable recommendations to customers.

Since 1993, FINRA has maintained and published “Sanction Guidelines” setting forth common securities rule violations and the range of disciplinary actions FINRA can issue for such violations, including monetary fines as well as suspensions, bars from the industry and other sanctions.

Specifically, the revised Guidelines, announced in Regulatory Notice 15-15 available on FINRA’s website at www.finra.org, contain revisions to the Sanctions relating to two specific areas: (i) fraud, misrepresentations or material omissions of fact; and (ii) suitability and the making of unsuitable recommendations to investing customers. According to the Notice, the ramped-up sanctions are meant to reinforce that fraudulent conduct is unacceptable, and that FINRA adjudicators on the Regulatory side should consider strong sanctions for such conduct, including barring or expelling repeat offenders, particularly where aggravating factors outweigh mitigating ones. With regard to unsuitability, the heightened punishments include an increase in the high-end range of suspensions from one year to two, as well as recommending bars, suspensions or expulsions for the most egregious recidivists.

New York Super Lawyers, a publication of The New York Times Magazine, has named Ross B. Intelisano as one of New York’s top Securities Litigation attorneys in their 2010 publication. The list of Super Lawyers recognizes lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement in their respective fields. Super Lawyers’ selection process is a vigorous multi-phase rating process based on peer nominations and evaluations, combined with third-party research. Their selection process has been recognized by bar associations and courts across the country.

Ross Intelisano is the only attorney on the 2010 New York Super Lawyers top Securities Litigation list who primarily represents institutional and individual investors in securities arbitration.

One of the most important aspects of securities arbitration proceedings is choosing your arbitrators. It is more art than science. Securities arbitration attorneys ought to spend a ton of time researching and vetting potential panel members. This includes not only reviewing prior awards but assessing value to said awards.

It is essential that attorneys review all of the arbitrators’ prior awards, not just the ones from the NASD. NYSE and AAA awards are available from the Securities Arbitration Commentator. NYSE awards are available on the NYSE website and on Westlaw.

Attorneys should not just review the awards from securities cases. Employment awards may be important too. For example, whether an arbitrator has awarded punitive damages in an employment case would be important to know.

We are often asked what materials an attorney should bring to a large and complex, customer versus brokerage firm, securities arbitration hearing besides evidentiary documents. Below is a list of five things every practitioner should not be without:

1. Exhibit Binders and Tabs

You’d be surprised how many attorneys come to arbitration proceedings without bringing binders and tabs for the arbitrators to hold exhibits. It’s a mistake. Arbitrators appreciate the organized presentation of exhibits. Bring one for opposing counsel and a witness binder as well.