UB Law School Opens Securities Clinic

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: October 9, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo schools of Law and Management have opened a Securities Clinic to provide both legal assistance and investment education to local investors, including investors of modest means.

The clinic, one of only four in the nation, is a member of the Pilot Arbitration Securities Clinic Program sponsored by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It is the only clinic in the SEC's pilot program that has an Investment Education Service designed to provide an unbiased education about the variety of investments available and how to evaluate whether these investments meet an investor's goals and objectives.

The Investment Education Service will conduct regular public seminars on topics related to effective investing, as well as issue a newsletter addressing basic issues pertaining to effective investing and analyzing new investment opportunities. It also will offer independent evaluations of individual investor portfolios and certain financial products, such as mutual funds and derivatives.

"The Securities Clinic will benefit both the local investing community and students," said Cheryl Nichols, UB assistant professor of law and co-director of the clinic with Joseph Ogden, UB associate professor and chair of the Department of Finance and Managerial Economics. "Investors will receive quality legal assistance and unbiased investment information, while students will acquire knowledge and skills in securities, a sophisticated and complex area of law and business."

Nichols said the clinic is a unit of the recently established Center for the Study of Business Transactions, also a joint effort between the law and management schools.

In addition to the education service, the clinic will offer a Dispute Resolution Service to provide legal representation to investors who cannot afford legal assistance in resolving disputes with investment professionals, who do not feel comfortable representing themselves in an arbitration or mediation proceeding and whose claims are too small -- $25,000 or less -- to be pursued cost-effectively by the private securities bar.

The Dispute Resolution Service will aid investors in resolving disputes with investment professionals through arbitration, mediation and the preparation of letters of complaint to the appropriate industry self-regulatory organizations and/or government agencies.

Clinic services will be provided by third-year law students and graduate-level management students -- many of whom are in the joint JD/MBA degree program.

In addition to the clinical work, students will meet weekly to cover the substantive law, develop practical legal skills and evaluate various investment instruments.

The co-directors of the clinic also will be available to provide technical assistance and training on securities issues to private attorneys and investment professionals.

Nichols, an NASD Regulation, Inc. arbitrator and a former senior enforcement attorney with the SEC, has more than eight years of experience in the financial-services industry.

Ogden has testified in litigation cases involving investor-broker disputes, has written extensively on various topics concerning the financial markets -- including bond, futures and options pricing -- and has won several research awards, including the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) Award of the Financial Management Association for Best Paper in Investments.

Nichols noted that Donald G. McGrath of the Buffalo law firm of Falk & Siemer was instrumental in setting up the clinic.

An adjunct faculty member in the law school, McGrath teaches some of the substantive law courses that students must take in order to participate in the clinic. He is a leading practitioner in the area of plaintiff's securities arbitration and has practiced in the area for more than 30 years. He has won the highest award in Western New York for a plaintiff in securities arbitration.

McGrath also is an arbitrator for the NASD Regulation, Inc. and the New York Stock Exchange.

For further information on the Securities Clinic, contact Nichols at 645-3193.