Tracy Stoneman - Stoneman Law
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Can I be Represented by an Attorney?

If you have a securities claim against a brokerage firm, you should be represented by an attorney. The brokerage firm will certainly have a lawyer or two. You can represent yourself – also called “pro bono” representation – but there's an old saying that a person who represents himself has a fool for a client.

Parties have an absolute right to be represented by a lawyer and may do so at any stage of the arbitration. So, you could start out pro bono and hire a lawyer mid-process.

The nice thing about hiring a lawyer is if the lawyer represents you on a contingency basis, her interests are aligned with yours; it removes the conflicts of interest that can exist with hourly lawyers. Your lawyer will perform the work with relatively little involvement on your part. All documents and pleadings relating to your case are sent to your lawyer, not you. You will need to produce various documents to your lawyer and speak with her about developments that happen in the case and, if the case is arbitrated, appear at the arbitration. Your lawyer will be spending her time selecting arbitrators and, probably the most important task, is fighting to discover the documents that are needed to prove the case. Unfortunately, the key documents are always in the possession of the brokerage firm, because it is the firm that’s required by law to retain certain documents. A brokerage firm may produce thousands of pages documents in a typical securities arbitration case. It is critical that you hire a lawyer who is familiar with these documents and knows which of them help your case versus which of those hurt your case.

FINRA cannot recommend or provide counsel in the arbitration nor can employees of that organization provide legal advice. Parties who do not have counsel and wish to be represented may want to contact the local bar association for a referral. It is critical that an investor hire a lawyer with experience in securities arbitration. If your claim for damages is less than $100,000, then you may have trouble finding a lawyer to represent you, as this is considered a small dollar amount.

One thing to be wary of are companies that promise representation but who have no lawyers. These are referred to by FINRA as “Non-Attorney Representatives” (NARs). In FINRA Regulatory Notice 17-34, FINRA expressed concern about these representatives because, unlike lawyers, there is no professional rules of conduct that applies to them. In addition, NAR firms typically do not have malpractice insurance, so if you end up with a claim against the firm, any recovery would be limited to the assets of the corporation. FINRA is considering placing restrictions on NAR representation in arbitration.

Another major disadvantage of having a non-lawyer represents you is that all communications between you and your representative would not be privileged. Legal privilege attaches only when a lawyer is involved. Also, because NARs are not trained in law, they cannot give legal advice. Handling a securities arbitration from start to finish involves a significant amount of “legal” work, therefore unless the claim for damages is less than $100,000, I do not recommend that investors hire a Non-Attorney Representative.

Contact Ms. Stoneman - Stoneman Law Offices - Texas & Colorado. (800) 783-0748 Free Consultation - Representing Clients Nationwide

Client Reviews
If you suspect securities or brokerage fraud against your hard-earned investments and need an advocate, call Tracy Pride Stoneman - NOW! I was a victim of churning, improper sale of unsuitable private placements, compliance violations, and more. I blamed myself at first and didn't think I had a case, but I was referred to Tracy after another lawyer balked, thinking all was lost. She took the emotion out of it, got down to the facts, made the case, and in hands-on fashion worked hard for the best result possible. She's an excellent communicator and the kind of experienced securities arbitration lawyer you need in your corner. Ms. Stoneman achieved a settlement for me that far exceeded expectations. She has my highest recommendation. Jeffrey B.
Tracy was a wonderful lawyer in my and my husband's huge case against Prudential Securities. She was relentless in going after the stockbroker and firm, determined to obtain all of the documents that helped our case and hurt theirs (that's why the firm didn't want to produce them!). No matter what curve ball the brokerage firm threw, Tracy came up with an angle to overcome it. My husband always commented how smart Tracy was in handling our case. Throughout it all, Tracy was extremely cheerful and easy to work with - unlike most lawyers I know! Carolyn W.
I think that you did a great job for the Tylers, and I believe you are one of the most organized and effective attorneys I have worked with. John B.