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.
Pro se cases should be disregarded unless there is big award given to a pro se claimant which is very rare.
Counsel must also study the attorneys involved in each arbitration award. You can’t just look at the awards. For example, there are some claimants’ attorneys who are known for bringing a high volume of weaker cases. A zero award for an attorney like that doesn’t tell me much; but if it’s a zero on a case brought by someone with a strong reputation, that would interest me.
Finally, call attorneys who have appeared before the arbitrators to get their first hand commentary on arbitrators. Awards often don’t tell the whole story on their face. There is nothing more helpful than hearing the war story from a trial attorney.