Retention Work with Miller Stern lawyers, LLC.
Once we have determined that we will pursue your case and that you are willing to retain Miller Stern lawyers, LLC., we will send you our form retainer agreement. This agreement will explain your rights as our client and will detail our contingency fee structure. Under the terms of the agreement, you are not responsible for any attorneys’ fees to Miller Stern lawyers, LLC. if the firm does not collect anything on your behalf.
Statement of Claim
Our first step in arbitration will be to draft the statement of claim. In arbitration, a document called a “Statement of Claim” is filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA. This document is similar to a “Complaint” filed in court. The statement of claim will contain the basic facts of your case, our theory of liability and our monetary demand on the broker dealer.
Once your Statement of Claim is filed, both parties rank a list of arbitrators compiled by FINRA. These arbitrators will serve as both judge and jury for your case. During this phase, we will review resumes and prior awards from the pool of arbitrators that were randomly selected by FINRA. Similar to selecting a jury, both sides will have the right to automatically strike certain arbitrators. The remaining arbitrators will be listed in order of preference and submitted to FINRA as our final selection.
The IPHC, or initial pre-hearing conference call, is a scheduling call between the attorneys and the appointed arbitration panel where hearing dates and deadlines will be established. The IPHC is typically held three months after the Statement of Claim is filed. FINRA typically selects hearing dates approximately nine months from the IPHC, allowing for a case to be fully adjudicated in 12 to 15 months; however some cases are adjudicated faster or slower depending on various factors.
In arbitration, the parties are required to provide each other with certain documents necessary for the prosecution and defense of a case. As a claimant, you will be required to produce your tax returns, account statements and correspondence with the broker dealer. Once your Statement of Claim is filed, we will work with you to gather these documents. Please refer here for our discovery guide, which lists in detail all documents that need to be produced by a claimant.
Although not required, the FINRA rules permit the parties to engage in limited motion practice. When a party files a motion, they are formally asking the arbitration panel to issue an order. The most common types of motions that are filed in FINRA are motions to compel discovery where one party fails to or refuses to voluntarily cooperate with discovery, as required by the rules.
Mediation / Settlement
As with most court actions, it is often in the parties’ collective interests to attempt to resolve a case amicably without the need for a formal adjudication by the Arbitration Panel. In our experience, there is usually a joint effort by both parties prior to an arbitration hearing to attempt to amicably resolve a case to avoid the cost and inconvenience of a hearing and the uncertainty of the result.
Assuming your case has not settled, the pre-hearing phase is where we work with you and other witnesses to prepare for the arbitration hearing, which is very similar to a trial. We will also prepare all of the other components you will need to win your case including exhibits and draft a pre-hearing brief for the arbitration panel, identifying and summarizing key legal issues in your case.
An arbitration hearing is very similar to a trial, however, unlike a trial where there is typically a judge and a jury, the jury and judge of an arbitration hearing is the arbitration panel. The hearing will usually be located near where you lived during the time the dispute arose. Most hearings will last between three and five days, but more complex hearings may take several weeks. Within thirty days of the conclusion of the hearing, the arbitration panel will render its award. The parties then have thirty days to comply with the award.