If you’ve suffered significant investment losses as the result of your broker violating FINRA rules, you should speak with a FINRA arbitration lawyer about your case. You may be able to recover your losses.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a private, not for profit organization responsible for overseeing financial broker-dealers in the United States.
If you work with a financial advisor or stockbroker, that person — and the firm they work for — is subject to FINRA’s rules and regulations.
If an individual advisor or broker acts in a way that violates FINRA’s rules, and those violations result in investment losses, the investor (you) has the right to file a complaint and seek a financial settlement for your losses.
At the Sonn Law Group we focus our practice almost entirely on helping investors recoup illegitimate losses through the FINRA arbitration process. For this reason, we are commonly referred to as ‘FINRA attorneys’.
Over our 30+ years of securities law practice we have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for individual and institutional investors. If you have suffered substantial losses in your investment accounts, it’s in your best interest to speak with a qualified FINRA lawyer about the details of your case.
Our firm provides free case reviews; there are no hidden obligations or strings attached. We take on all cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only take a fee if we recover money for you. Contact us online or call anytime at (866) 827–3202 to schedule a case review. We handle FINRA arbitration claims nationwide, including in Puerto Rico.
If you aren’t ready to speak with a lawyer just yet, no problem. Below we examine what specifically a plaintiff FINRA attorney does for their clients. Then, we go over a list of 7 essential questions to ask before hiring a FINRA lawyer.
What Does a FINRA Arbitration Lawyer Do?
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a self-regulatory organization that oversees that nation’s 3,726 brokerage firms and 630,132 brokers. FINRA lawyers represent the interests of investors by helping them pursue compensation for investment losses before FINRA arbitrators.
1. Review your case
A qualified FINRA attorney will begin by reviewing your case. You cannot recover compensation if you lost money simply due to ‘back luck’ or ‘market risk’. Instead, you must be able to prove that your broker’s negligence or misconduct contributed to your losses.
Your attorney will be able to review your case in order to determine if you have a viable claim. In general, your FINRA lawyer will take a look at:
- Account statements;
- Promises made by your broker;
- Correspondence with your broker;
- Your financial goals;
- Your understanding of the products you were investing in; and
- Your level of risk tolerance.
At the Sonn Law Group we offer free case reviews, and we take cases on a contingency basis.
Related: FINRA Attorneys’ Fees: What Will I Pay?
2. Present your options
Should you have a viable claim, your lawyer will be able to help you explore all of your available options and remedies. In the overwhelming majority of cases, brokers and brokerage firms require their customers to sign agreements that contain mandatory arbitration provisions.
This type of provision compels arbitration instead of securities litigation. However, even if you signed an arbitration clause, you and your broker may be able to settle the issue with informal negotiation or FINRA mediation.
3. File a claim
If your broker refuses to cooperate, your lawyer will help you take legal action. To get the process moving, you will need to initiate arbitration by filing a Statement of Claim. In effect, your Statement of Claim is your legal complaint.
It is your chance to outline your side of the story. It is imperative that your Statement of Claim is well-reasoned and backed by strong supporting evidence. It should be drafted by a qualified FINRA plaintiff lawyer.
Related: How to File a Complaint Against Your Financial Advisor or Stockbroker
4. Prepare for arbitration
Finally, your FINRA attorney will help you prepare for arbitration itself. In essence, a FINRA arbitration proceeding in similar to a mini-trial. There will be opening statements, evidence will be presented, witnesses will give testimony and be cross-examined, and closing statements will be given.
With limited exceptions, FINRA arbitration awards are final. If you are considering arbitration to recover compensation for your investment losses, you need to be represented by a skilled attorney.
7 questions you should ask before hiring a FINRA arbitration attorney
1. Does the attorney focus primarily on securities law?
It is best to hire a FINRA attorney who has a history of relevant case experience. The lawyer you hire should have decades of experience representing investors in securities fraud cases, and they should have specific experience with FINRA arbitration.
At the Sonn Law Group our attorneys focus exclusively on securities fraud law and have successfully handled thousands of FINRA arbitration cases.
It’s also important that your attorney have their finger on the pulse of the securities industry.
In November 2017 Jeffrey Sonn wrote an article which stated that there were signs that the Woodbridge Group of Companies may be nothing more than a ponzi scheme.
In late December, the SEC charged Woodbridge with a $1.2 billion ponzi scheme, and the Sonn Law Group begin preparing a strategy for obtaining maximum recovery for investors.
This website is updated weekly with frequently asked questions and important news for investors. This commitment to justice for wronged investors makes our firm a solid choice for FINRA arbitration representation.
2. Does the attorney have a solid reputation?
Jeff Sonn, founder of the Sonn Law Group, has over 30 years of securities arbitration experience.
Unfortunately, not all attorneys are reputable. Before retaining a FINRA attorney, you need to be sure that he or she has a solid reputation built over a long career practicing securities law. You want to avoid hiring a lawyer who lacks the experience, knowledge or integrity to handle your FINRA arbitration case.
Our founding attorney Jeffrey Sonn began his career in securities law in 1988. He has represented investors in some if the most infamous investment fraud cases in recent history, and has recovered hundreds of millions for his clients. Over his career, Jeff has earned the following notable accolades and awards, among others:
- Rated by Super Lawyers, 2017
- AV Preeminent® Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence by Martindale-Hubbell®, 2017
- Lifetime Member, Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- Lifetime Member, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- Rated “Top 15 Attorneys in America” by Distinguished Justice Advocates
We encourage you to read more about Jeff Sonn’s career in securities law here, and to learn more about the rest of our team of talented attorneys here.
3. Does the attorney have experience with FINRA cases that involve similar circumstances to mine?
Beyond ensuring that you hire a lawyer who has extensive experience handling FINRA arbitration cases, you also need to be sure that you pick a lawyer who has specific experience handling claims that are similar to that of your own. Not all FINRA arbitration cases are the same.
For reference, the ten most common types of controversies that went before FINRA arbitration panels in the year 2016 were as follows:
- Breach of fiduciary duty: 2,002 cases
- Broker negligence: 1,862 cases
- Failure to supervise: 1,802 cases
- Misrepresentation of investment: 1,670 cases
- Unsuitable investment claims: 1,606 cases
- Breach of contract: 1,495 cases
- Omission of material facts: 1,394 cases
- Outright fraud: 1,301 cases
- Unauthorized trading: 362 cases
- Excessive trading (churning): 254 cases
Often, a dispute will involve allegations that the broker or brokerage firm committed more than one type of misconduct. As different types of controversies can vary dramatically, it is imperative that you select a lawyer who has past experience handling a claim that is similar to your own.
Beyond involving a similar form of misconduct, it is also a best practice to work with a FINRA attorney who has handled previous cases involving a similar investment product to the one that is at issue in your case.
At the Sonn Law Group there is very little in the way of broker and advisor misconduct that our FINRA arbitrations lawyers haven’t seen. We are well suited to help you purse financial recovery across a variety of securities law case types.
4. Does the attorney have a long history of success in FINRA arbitration matters?
There are many different things that suggest a FINRA lawyer is good at what they do. All of these things matter. Awards are great, professional recognition is important, positive media attention indicates that a lawyer is doing well, and academic success shows that an attorney has a good understanding of the law.
Still, at the end of the day, what matters most is the results they achieve for their clients. You need to work with a FINRA arbitration lawyer who has a proven track record of successfully obtaining financial recovery for clients.
Before making the final decision to work with an attorney, do not hesitate to ask about their past success. A securities fraud attorney with a proven record of successful outcomes in FINRA arbitration cases will be able to show you real world examples of actual client recoveries. We encourage you a sampling of our firm’s case results here.
5. Is the attorney straightforward with me about the prospects of my case?
Not every case involving significant investment loses also involves negligence or fraud. Indeed, investors often believe that their advisor may have acted fraudulently or negligently, but the facts prove otherwise. An ethical FINRA arbitration attorney will give you honest advise as to whether you have a viable case.
Would you want to work with a lawyer who tells you everything that you want to hear, simply in order to get hired? Of course not. This is a path to working with a FINRA attorney who will fail to deliver on the unrealistic promises that never should have been made in the first place.
Qualified and reputable stockbroker fraud attorneys will always be honest with you. This means ensuring that you always receive a fair and accurate assessment of your claim, your legal options, and what you can expect from the FINRA arbitration process.
6. Is the attorney passionate about their work?
An attorney cannot be truly great at what they do unless they have a passion for it. An attorney that looks at your FINRA arbitration case as something that they just need to get through so that they can go home for the day is not going to be the best lawyer for your case. Your claim is far too important to give to someone who is just punching the clock.
At Sonn Law Group, we take tremendous pride in what we do. Our team is committed to fighting for the legal rights and best interests of investors. We are passionate about helping people protect their hard-earned income and life savings from bad acting brokers and brokerage firms. When investors lose money because of intentional misconduct or negligence, we advocate fiercely on their behalf, helping them fight for every penny that they rightfully deserve.
7. Does the attorney provide a free consultation to discuss the details of my FINRA case?
There are many benefits that come with taking advantage of a free case review at our firm. First, you will be able to have your claim reviewed by a top-rated securities fraud attorney. Your attorney will be able to assess the circumstances and explain your rights and your legal options to you.
Not only will this give you an opportunity to learn important details about your case, but it will also give you a chance to learn about the attorney. You can decide if our FINRA arbitration lawyers are the people to handle your case.
Why FINRA attorneys are necessary: Bad broker statistics
To help promote market integrity, FINRA publishes data on its enforcement activities at the end of each year. This data provides a useful window into the securities industry, and the extent of the issues facing investors in relation to the brokers and advisors that they trust with their money.
The infographic below highlights the FINRA bad broker statistics for 2017.
Investor complaints filed with FINRA
In 2017, FINRA received 3002 investor complaints. This number is consistent with the amount of broker complaints that FINRA has received in previous years. Of course, there are cases in which complaints can take more than one year to be fully resolved. Many of the investor complaints filed in 2017 were not resolved until 2018 or later.
Financial penalties assessed by FINRA
FINRA reports that it fined bad brokers $66.8 million in 2017. Beyond the fines, another $66.8 million in financial restitution was recovered for investors. Despite being the same this year, these numbers are two separate figures. In total, FINRA brought a total of $133.6 million in financial sanctions against bad brokers.
FINRA disciplinary actions against brokers and brokerage firms
FINRA officials found good cause to take disciplinary action against 1,369 brokers and brokerage firms. In many cases, disciplinary actions are resolved with financial sanctions. Though, there also many cases in which brokers or brokerage firms are barred from the securities industry.
A total of 50 firms were disciplined by having their securities license permanently or temporarily revoked. 21 brokerage firms were expelled from the securities industry in 2017, while another 29 firms were suspended.
Overall, 1,225 individual securities brokers faced a suspension or a ban, and 733 individuals were suspended from the industry. The length of a FINRA suspension can vary widely, from a few weeks to several years. In addition, 492 individuals were permanently barred from the industry.
Fraud cases referred for prosecution by FINRA
When appropriate, FINRA will refer cases for prosecution. Fraud cases can be referred to both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for civil action, or to state or federal prosecutors for criminal enforcement. In 2017, FINRA reports that 855 fraud and insider trading cases were referred to government officials.
Jeffrey R. Sonn is an experienced FINRA arbitration lawyer. For more than three decades, Mr. Sonn has advocated for the rights and interests of investors. If you or your loved one is considering filing a FINRA arbitration claim, you deserve top legal representation. To schedule a free, no obligation review of your case, please contact the Sonn Law Group today.