September 20, 2005
I am probably the only attorney in West Tennessee who has a major part of his practice involving the representation of investors in arbitration. This is a relatively new part of my practice, but I have over 20 years experience in tax and ERISA parctice. In this part of my practice, I often act as a ERISA compliance officer for my clients who are usually Employers and over the years many have been banks.
At this point in time, the very inclusion of an industry arbitrator seens to be proof that the industry has no interest in justice. I can assure you that the public has no trust in the industry. Why should they. Recent scandals have destroyed any trust in many financial organizations.
I gave a speech to a group of professionals last year discussing the Global Settlement and one of them owns an interest in an investment firm. He said out loud to the group that even he did not understand why anyone would do business with the brokerage firms involved. Ethical people in the industry can no longer support the total lack of morality been shown by the industry itself.
Currently, I am representing two different customers who had their accounts directly stolen by their brokers. The brokers compliance departments have tried to cover up the malfeasance. The industry arbitrator looks to these two clients like a person who is probably just another thief.
In a case, I just tried and loss, counsel for the industry party actually made the argument that undisclosed kick backs should be considered proper behavior. This looks like an industry whose only moral rule is make more profit.
Not only should the new amendment be adopted temporarily but if arbitration is not to become a complete joke, all industry participation on the panels must be stopped at a minimum.
How would you explain to a client who had full knowlege of each firms compliance record like I do, that the people who work for these firms and can not stop the behavior in their own firms are fit to sit in judgement on others just like them.