Fall 2014 Community Outreach

Investor Rights Clinic Student Interns Conduct Financial Outreach and Arbitrator Recruitment Events

Law student interns with the Investor Rights Clinic (IRC) spend most of their semester-long internship developing and handling securities arbitration claims before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) on behalf of small claim investors alleging broker misconduct against financial firms. FINRA operates the largest forum for the resolution of securities disputes in the U.S.

In addition to the clinical work on their cases, which provides invaluable hands-on training while serving a largely underrepresented group, student interns each semester are required to conduct a financial outreach project in the community. During the fall 2014, IRC students conducted a variety of outreach programs and, for the first time in the Clinic’s history, conducted a presentation designed to recruit individuals to become FINRA arbitrators and improve the size, quality and diversity of the South Florida pool of arbitrators.

On November 7, 2014, Catalina Rey and Sunny Desai presented at the Association of Certified-Anti Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) and Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) South Florida Chapter AML/Fraud Conference at the Kovens Conference Center at Florida International University.  Catalina and Sunny’s presentation during the conference showcased the IRC and the types of claims it handles, since these professionals are often a source of potential cases. Catalina and Sunny also discussed the need for increasing the size and diversity of FINRA’s arbitrator pool, which is incredibly important since most investors are required to arbitrate their claims through FINRA. Catalina and Sunny reviewed the specific requirements for becoming an arbitrator and the FINRA arbitrator application process.  Student interns Rachael Williams and Zhen Pan also assisted by staffing a table at the conference and providing information about becoming a FINRA arbitrator. The presentation was a great start to the IRC’s new arbitrator outreach efforts.

Craig Tompkins and Jordan Hadley conducted a financial outreach on November 8th at the local alumni chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, which took place at a local church in Hialeah, Florida. Their presentation focused on an increasing problem in South Florida: affinity fraud. Affinity fraud schemes prey upon members of a network, such as church groups, fraternal organizations, etc.  The presentation discussed affinity fraud schemes, including how to recognize and avoid them. The attendees peppered Craig and Jordan with questions,and told anecdotes about experiences they have had with these schemes.

On October 17th, George Pita, Jack Korte, Andrea Nickerson made a presentation to the Personal Finance and Introduction to Marketing classes at Christopher Columbus High School. The student team covered a number of topics relevant to high school students, including best practices for acquiring and using credit cards and building a credit score. They also discussed basic investment types, such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds. The team engaged the students to think about the relationship between risks and rewards for each investment type, and discussed how they can educate themselves about different securities and investment strategies and protect themselves from potential scams. They concluded both presentations with a short video from FINRA about investment fraud, and a short clip from the movie Wolf of Wall Street.