Investor Advocacy Clinic Experience Highlight: Helping Investors

By Michael Williford, Spring 2016 Student Intern

I joined the Investor Advocacy Clinic with an interest in helping elderly clients, and without the first clue how securities arbitration works. I am leaving the first semester of my clinic experience with a much clearer picture of the investing landscape, how FINRA works for investors, and how it does not.

I also feel fully prepared to step into my role as a returning intern. For someone without a background in finance, the learning curve can at times seem daunting, but of all the skills the clinic imparts, perhaps most important is the ability to learn and digest a new area of the law in short order. As new students join us in the clinic in the fall of 2016, I look forward to helping them get their bearings so they can help the clinic assist more underserved investors.

Which brings me to the part of the clinic I enjoyed the most—helping the clients. Our team were able to resolve several cases over the course of the semester. The most satisfying part of each of those cases was meeting, speaking with, and ultimately giving retired investors the opportunity to tell their stories and recover at least a portion of what was unfairly taken from them. They were all grateful to receive legal assistance that would otherwise be out of reach.

Beyond that, though, is the opportunity to function as part of a cohesive team. The clinic is organized as a small firm, and everyone must pull their weight if the firm is to survive and thrive. That kind of real world scenario is invaluable as I transition from student to attorney. It’s a change from the “compete for the A” mentality that normal classes require, and I highly recommend the experience to any students seeking a different perspective on their law school experiences.

As I’ve already suggested, I enjoyed it so much I’ll be returning for my second semester in the fall.