Securities Arbitration Clinic

General Description

The Securities Arbitration Clinic provides students with an opportunity to develop fundamental investigatory and advocacy skills in the context of the substantive laws governing investments.  The focus of the Securities Arbitration Clinic is representation of small investors in disputes in arbitration in Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA.)  The Clinic is a two-semester clinic; however, students may enroll in either the spring or the fall semesters, but must complete 2 semesters in order to receive credit. Total credits hours for the two semesters are 8 credits.

As part of its community outreach, the Securities Arbitration Clinic also provides public education about investment fraud, with particular attention to investment schemes targeting PA residents and the elderly. Substantive legal topics covered in the clinic include the scope and nature of binding arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act and Pennsylvania law, and the legal and regulatory remedies available to defrauded investors. Coursework includes training in skills such as interviewing potential clients, evaluating potential claims, preparing pleadings, conducting discovery, representing clients at hearings, and negotiating settlements.

Students have the opportunity under faculty supervision to:

  • Represent aggrieved investors
  • Provide public education to community groups regarding investment fraud targeting PA residents and the elderly
  • Prepare amicus briefs on investment and arbitration law in pending court cases
  • Engage in research on securities laws and investment products
  • Classwork includes coverage of investment products, and presentations by experts on topics applicable to evaluation of investments, including:
  • Excessive trading and “churning”
  • Suitability
  • Misrepresentation and fraud
  • Breach of fiduciary duty Products such as variable annuities and equity-indexed annuities

Faculty / Staff

Alice L. Stewart, DIrector of Clinical Programs and Associate Professor of Law

Attorney Alice L. Stewart has focused her professional career on Federal Tax Law and Federal and State Securities Law. Professor Stewart serves as the Director of the Low-Income Tax Clinic, Director of the Securities Arbitration Clinic and as a Clinical Professor. Professor Stewart has provided law students with a unique opportunity to gain practical experience. She has assisted hundreds of low-income tax clients through controversy and dispute with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and has counseled both tax and securities seminars through outreach programs in and around the Pittsburgh area.

Adjunct Professor of Law Rachael Shaw

Attorney Rachael T. Shaw has focused her professional career on Investment Management and Federal and State Securities law.  Professor Shaw provides law students with the unique opportunity to gain practical experience with actual clients in the practice area of securities law as an Adjunct Professor in the Securities Arbitration Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh School of law.  Professor Shaw assists in all stages of the recovery of lost or stolen funds for small investors alongside law students.  As an Adjunct Professor in the Securities Clinic, Professor Shaw also coaches students in the annual Securities Dispute Resolution Triathlon at St. John’s University School of Law. The triathlon challenges students to negotiate, mediate, and arbitrate in a single competition, thus giving students the opportunity to hone their advocacy skills in a realistic securities dispute experience.

Jaclyn Murdock, Clinic Administrative Assistant