Lessons from the Option of Last Resort: Be Skeptical

By: Robert Noens, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

This is my final entry in my final five-part series, and I would like to leave any readers with this one lesson: be skeptical and don’t blindly trust your broker. Your instinct may tell you to trust your broker, or that they are always acting in your best interest. The harsh reality of that, however, is not true. Continue reading

Lessons from the Option of Last Resort: Rolling the Dice

By: Robert Noens, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

Welcome back to my final five-part series with the clinic. This week, I would like to talk about what, in my opinion, is the scariest factor in any trial or hearing. That factor is unpredictability. As I mentioned in a previous blog about the expenses of trial and hearings, some things are well known about trials and hearings. Specifically, they are expensive and you never know what a judge, jury or arbitrator(s) is going to do. That said, I am here to tell you that while you may know a trial is unpredictable, when you have everything riding on one trial or hearing, that is when you truly feel it. Continue reading

Professor Lester’s Testimony on the Taxpayer Experience with IRS

Earlier today, Philip C. Cook Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Associate Director Tameka Lester testified before the Ways and Means Committee about taxpayer interactions with the IRS.  The full hearing can be viewed here.  Professor Lester’s prepared remarks begin at about the 13:04 mark.

Lessons from the Option of Last Resort: Your Past Will Come Back to Haunt You

By: Robert Noens, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

Have you ever heard the saying that your past may come back to haunt you? Well, I am here to tell you that at trial or in a hearing, your past will come back to haunt you. I will also tell you that any history or experience you have with investing or finance will be exposed and, more than likely, not in a light or context that you ever thought it would be.

Continue reading

Lester to Testify About IRS Reform at House Ways and Means Subcommittee Meeting

Tameka Lester, associate director of the College of Law’s Philip C. Cook Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic and assistant clinical professor, will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight on Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Washington, D.C. The hearing will discuss Internal Revenue Service reform.

“It is such an honor to be asked to testify as Rep. John Lewis’ expert witness,” Lester said. “Ensuring that the voice of low income taxpayers is considered in IRS reform is essential.”

Lester will discuss the experience of Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) clients, particularly the issues encountered by taxpayers with engaging with the IRS. She will also propose opportunities for reform.

“Our work in the Philip C. Cook Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic guarantees low-income taxpayers have access to quality representation when engaging with the IRS regardless of their ability to pay,” Lester said. “The system of tax administration works best when individuals have access to representation, and access to representation should not be predicated solely on one’s ability to pay an attorney or accountant.” Continue reading

Lessons from the Option of Last Resort: Preparation and Expense

By: Robert Noens, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

From start to finish, I believe the case I co-counseled took a year. I, however, was only involved for two weeks. Granted, the weeks leading up to a hearing and the hearing itself will likely be the most expensive time period in the life of a FINRA dispute, but that does not take away from one simple fact; FINRA hearings, like any trial, are expensive. Every day leading up to the FINRA hearing there are copying costs, which – surprisingly or not – add up quickly, lawyers billing by the hour day-in and day-out, experts billing by the hour, and jury and/or witness consultants. This goes on all day and every day leading up to the hearing. The result is almost invariable a bill that will dwarf the vast majority of Americans’ yearly salaries. Continue reading

Lessons from the Option of Last Resort: The Overall Hearing Experience

By: Robert Noens, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

Welcome to my second and final five-part blog series. In my final semester in the Clinic, I finally got the opportunity to experience a very rare and valuable thing – a FINRA hearing. The one thing that everyone pictures when they call the Clinic, feel the need to sue their broker, or envision securities litigation, is also both rare and something most Clinic students will never get the opportunity to see. In fact, while the reasons for not getting a case all the way through a hearing may vary, ultimately, for one reason or another, only 13% of FINRA disputes will be decided by an arbitrator(s) upon the completion of a hearing.

Continue reading