HeLP Legal Services Clinic Celebrates 10 Years

In celebration of the HeLP Legal Services Clinic’s 10th Anniversary, the Georgia State University College of Law hosted a reception on September 14, 2017. HeLP Clinic alumni, along with College of Law students, faculty, staff, and other esteemed members of the bar and Atlanta community came together to celebrate a decade of service and inter-professional collaboration.

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Panel Discussion on September 7, “Preparing for Practice: Introduction to the College of Law’s In-House Clinics”

GSU Law Students: Please join the HeLP Legal Services Clinic, Investor Advocacy Clinic, and Philip C. Cook Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 7 in Room 241 for our panel discussion on Preparing for Practice. Practicing attorneys will speak about their experiences working in the Clinics, how they developed their professional skills through participating in Clinics, and how the Clinic experience has helped in their job search and law practice. Lunch will be provided!

Investor Alert: Advance Fee Fraud

By Geoff Hafer, Spring 2017 Student Intern

The SEC receives thousands of complaints every year describing a scam known as “advance fee fraud.”  An investor will be asked to pay a fee up front before receiving any proceeds, money, stock or warrants.  This up-front fee is often described as a deposit, underwriting fee, processing fee, administrative fee, commission, regulatory fee or tax, or sometimes an incidental expense that will be paid back later.  Unfortunately, in cases of advance fee fraud, once they have your money you can bet you will never hear from them again.

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The Investor Advocacy Clinic: Our Little Law Firm

By Qudsia Shafiq, Spring 2017 Student Intern

I entered the Investor Advocacy Clinic with the naïve goal of mastering securities. While I may not have “mastered” securities, I certainly achieved my goal of learning about securities and securities-related laws – but surprisingly, I left with much more: lifelong friendships, mentors with professionally diverse backgrounds, experiences with clients at different stages in the client relationship, and ultimately, a sense of accomplishment that I could not have achieved in another class.

Helping a client obtain a favorable result within the first few weeks of the clinic was a rewarding start to the semester and reinforced the clinic’s primary goal of helping clients with securities-related issues through arbitration. This set a positive tone for what was yet to come. But the clinic’s flexibility in selecting topics and issues to address, determining which cases to take on, accepting a variety of clients, and being open to collaborate with other organizations to address relevant issues is what allowed it to be an invaluable experience.

This flexible approach directly resulted in students having the opportunity to participate and learn about a variety of issues. How many students can say they researched cutting-edge issues in the financial industry, addressed the current administration’s stance on fiduciary duties, participated in phone conferences with leading lawyers across the country, and did so all in one semester while independently handling cases from intake forward?

In retrospect, joining the clinic was one of the best decisions I have made in law school thus far. Unlike my externships, internships, and jobs, the Investor Advocacy Clinic has provided me the opportunity to undertake the assignments I would be given at a law firm, exposed me to the variety of issues even a niche-practice encounters, all within the comfort of an in-house clinic. This little law firm enjoys abundant resources, strong bonds within and with other clinics, where advice and input is always kindly offered and receiving feedback is the norm. And this is exactly why I can’t wait to come back for my second semester of IAC Clinic II in the fall!

My Clinic Story

By Robert Noens, Spring 2017 Student Intern

Where to begin? My time as a clinic I intern is coming to an end, and I can honestly say that my time spent in the Investor Advocacy Clinic was my most valuable experience I had in law school. I entered the clinic wanting two things: First, I wanted a better understanding of commercial litigation after having participated in the Business Arbitration Practicum. Second, I wanted a better understanding of what it takes to be a practicing attorney. I can now say, I accomplished both tasks, and the clinic far exceeded all expectations.

To the extent of furthering my understanding of commercial litigation, I have now seen just about every step of a FINRA claim short of an arbitration hearing. I can read financial statements, calculate net out of pocket losses, read contracts, look at a portfolio’s risk distribution, figure out different claims, and proceed to incorporate all the information into a statement of claim. My holistic viewpoint has even given me the confidence that I need to go into my summer job, at a small business litigation firm, knowing that I can get the job done. Moreover, I attribute my clinic experience to ultimately leading to my summer employment.

Finally, the clinic allowed me to achieve another large goal of mine – becoming as practice-ready as possible. When I entered law school, I did not want to eventually leave school and bumble over myself when I finally got into practice. The clinic has single-handled given the edge I wanted. While I do not think that I am ready to handle a full case start to finish without any supervision, I know I can ask the right questions, get my work done, make recommendations, and be a valuable asset to any employer. Personally, that confidence and that skill are the most valuable things that I will take away from the clinic. It gave me a taste of what it is like to be an attorney. For that reason, I am extremely grateful, and I will return as a clinic II intern.

Opening Your First Brokerage Account: Am I Picking the Right Account Type for My Needs?

By Geoff Hafer, Spring 2017 Student Intern

In the last edition of the five-part series “Opening Your First Brokerage Account” we addressed the question “Do I really know all the fees associated with my account?”  Today, we will attempt to answer the question “Am I picking the right account type for my needs?”   To begin with, most brokerage firms offer at least two types of accounts, a cash account and a margin loan account (known as a margin account).

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Opening Your First Brokerage Account: Did I Ask the Right Questions?

By Geoff Hafer, Spring 2017 Student Intern

In our last edition of the five-part series “Opening Your First Brokerage Account” we addressed the question “Am I Picking the Right Account Type for My Needs?”  In this final edition, we will consider the question “Did I ask the right questions?”   Asking the right questions will help you to invest wisely and avoid potential pitfalls.  No matter what your level of investing experience, don’t be too quick to sign, after all it’s your money!

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