Below are answers to a few frequently asked general questions with regard to arbitration, mediation and the services of The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A.
Disclaimer: Any words or data on this site shall NOT be deemed legal advice or direction. It is for informational purposes only
What are your practice areas?
The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. is a boutique law firm that has limited its practice areas to representing investors, brokers and advisors in disputes involving members and regulators of the securities and commodities industry in court and arbitration nationwide. The founding attorney, Robert Wayne Pearce, has over 40 years of trial experience and is personally involved as the lead trial lawyer in every court case and arbitration.
Why should I hire you and your firm to represent me?
The primary reason to hire Attorney Pearce and his firm is that it will be hard for you to find any attorney in the United States with more experience (over 40 years) representing investors, brokers and advisors in disputes involving members and regulators of the securities and commodities industry in court and arbitration. The number 40 represents Mr. Pearce’s personal experience, not the total experience of all the attorneys working at the firm involved in securities and commodities industry matters.
You should hire Mr. Pearce because he has already seen and litigated most of the issues over his many years handling securities and commodities industry cases. He quickly gathers the evidence, analyzes the facts in light of the applicable law, rules and regulations, knows the difference between good and bad cases, and will be candid with you early on in the representation about the merits of your claim or defense. Mr. Pearce does not shy away from complex securities and commodities issues. If he takes your case, you can be sure it is only because he believes from his experience that your case has merit and you will win if it goes to trial or arbitration.
You should be wary of any attorney who tells you, immediately after contacting him/her or without any meaningful conversation or analysis, that you have a great case. There are many young and/or inexperienced attorneys out there raking in clients with slick Google Ads, farming for and harvesting cases to fill their silos without the knowledge and experience to determine the merit of the case or worse, without regard to whether it has merit, only to file a frivolous case hoping for a quick nuisance settlement. The latter type of attorney is dangerous because he or she may abandon your case and expose you to an attorneys’ fee or cost claim by the defense.
If you are an investor who believes you have one or more of these investor claims [link to investor parent page] and suffered losses and want to click and read [link to article] more about FINRA arbitrations and where you are undoubtedly headed to resolve your dispute, click here and find out more about what distinguishes us from our competitors.
If you think you are the target, subject or merely a witness who received a subpoena in an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), National Futures Association (NFA), Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards (CFP), Florida Office of Financial Regulation (FLA-OFR) [link to each regulator page] and other state regulators, you should click and read [ link to SEC page here she is quoted or opinion or pdf] about what Federal Court Judge Janet Hall said about Attorney Pearce when he single-handedly defeated a team of SEC prosecutors and handed his client a $500,000 check from the SEC for filing a frivolous claim and going to trial not once but twice. Mr. Pearce did not give up his client; he brought him not only justice but a check for attorneys’ fees, which happens rarely when the government files suit and goes to trial.
For over 40 years Attorney Pearce has not only represented investors but also brokers and advisors who have suffered abuse at the hands of their employers and regulators during and after registration. He has substantial experience with CRD Expungement, cleaning brokers’ records of false claims; Employment Contract Disputes involving non-compete clauses, and non-solicitation clauses, trade secrets and proprietary information, forgivable loans, promissory notes, and up-front bonuses; Form U-5 Defamation, when an employer files false and defamatory information about an employee after an employment relationship is terminated; Employment Discrimination disputes that constitute race, age and/or, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination or retaliatory discharge cases; and Registration problems.
What do you charge clients for your services?
Our fees differ depending on the type of dispute and whether you are an investor, broker or advisor who has a claim for misconduct and damages that could be recovered from the wrongdoer; the defendant or respondent in an investigation or enforcement proceeding or employment collection action; or another matter in which the amount of time that will be spent is predictable. Generally, with regard to those cases we accept for investors, brokers or advisors with claims against solvent and collectible brokerages, our fee is structured on a contingency, hybrid or hourly basis at our clients’ election. Those clients who are defendants or respondents in regulatory and collection actions will be charged on an hourly basis. In some of the smaller cases wherein fees are more predictable, such as expungement proceedings, we may agree upon a fixed fee with clients.
What is a Contingency Fee Agreement?
In those disputes where we are retained by an investor, broker or advisor who has a claim for misconduct and damages that could be recovered from a solvent and collectible brokerage firm, we generally offer a contingency fee payment arrangement for our services. The simplest description of a contingency fee agreement is: we only get paid if you get paid! The fee we charge is a percentage of the amount we actually recover as a result of a settlement, arbitration award, or judgment. You should be aware that some attorneys and non-attorneys handling arbitrations may charge you a fee for the amount of the settlement, arbitration award or judgment without regard to whether they actually recover, collect, the amount you are owed.
The percentage of the fee charged is dependent upon the forum (court or arbitration), state or territory bar rules, and the complexity and size of the case in terms of potential damages that could be recovered. Our fee is always based upon the total amount of the benefit we confer on our client(s), whether the amount is characterized as compensatory or punitive damages, interest, attorney fees, expert witness fees, and/or other litigation expenses. In some cases involving brokers and advisors, the gross amount could include the amount of debt that is forgiven and/or discharged. Our contingency fee arrangements may be negotiable depending on the facts of the case, the forum, the amount of damages, and your financial circumstances.
If we accept your case on a contingency fee arrangement, we generally advance all of the fees and expenses and do not recover them unless we settle or win your case and make a monetary recovery. The amount we collect is always applied first to the reimbursement of all the fees and expenses we advanced.
We do not insist that any client retain us on a contingency fee basis; if you prefer to pay us for our services on an hourly basis, have the financial ability to do so, and agree to our strict security deposit requirements, you will have the option to do so. We are here to serve our clients, and we are happy to accommodate whatever arrangement makes our clients most comfortable. In this regard, there is one important point to remember: if we accept a case on a contingency fee arrangement, we bear the risk of loss. However, if you negotiate an hourly or other arrangement, you bear the risk of loss in terms of attorney and expert witness fees and other ligation expenses.
Finally, although there are no guarantees of what the outcome may be in any arbitration or litigation matter we take on a contingency fee arrangement, you should know we strive to win every case to not lose our investment of hundreds of hours of attorney fees, expert witness fees, and other expenses we advanced on your behalf. Attorney Pearce does not make a contingency fee offer unless he believes he is going to win and make a recovery that will fairly compensate you for your loss and cover our time and expenses.
What is Arbitration?
More and more disputes are being resolved in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) forums these days. The primary ADR methods are arbitration and mediation. Whether you are an investor or a broker, the odds are that you have agreed in an account opening agreement or self-regulatory organization membership agreement to resolve any dispute with any stock or commodities brokerage firm in an arbitration forum outside the courtroom, such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), National Futures Association (NFA), American Arbitration Association (AAA) or the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS) organizations at locations throughout the United States.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is another alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method for resolving disputes and is often confused with arbitration. The primary difference between mediation and arbitration is the person who controls the decision. Mediation is generally a voluntary dispute resolution process where the parties remain in control and a person called the Mediator helps the parties find mutually acceptable resolution of their dispute. On the other hand, arbitration is a dispute resolution process where a person called the Arbitrator controls and dictates the resolution of the dispute. The Mediator facilitates the parties’ solution of the problem themselves through a variety of settlement negotiation techniques. Mediation often takes place before or during the arbitration or court litigation proceeding.
Attorney Pearce not only represents clients in court-ordered mediations and mediations of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration proceedings, but he has also been trained and qualified to serve as a Florida Circuit Court Civil Mediator and as a FINRA Mediator to help you resolve your dispute. Mr. Pearce has gained substantial experience serving in all capacities in the mediation process throughout Florida and nationwide over the last 40 years of his practice.
The Mediation Process
Depending upon whether the mediation was court ordered pursuant to Court rules or purely voluntary and pursuant to an agreement of the parties, the procedures and rules governing the mediation may vary greatly. Similarly, the style of the mediator and the process will vary depending upon the particular mediator and parties involved in the dispute. In some mediations, the parties meet with the mediator face-to-face throughout the proceeding and attempt to resolve the dispute. However, more often than not, the Mediator listens to opening statements by the parties or their attorneys about the dispute and then separates the parties into separate rooms where the Mediator will hold private caucuses (meetings) with each party and listen to their complaints, tempers their expectations and helps them find a rational solution to their problem. A skillful Mediator will help the parties understand the issues in the case and the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s position to reach a compromise. In some mediations the Mediator will provide his or her opinion on how the dispute should resolve (some court rules prohibit Mediators from providing opinions). This process generally takes a full day but may be shorter or longer depending on the parties and their resolve to reach an amicable decision with the Mediator’s assistance.
The Mediator’s Role
The Mediator’s role is to steer the parties to an amicable resolution of their dispute. Oftentimes, the parties are emotional and irrational at the outset of any dispute because one or more of them have been deeply hurt and perceive the other to be responsible for their suffering. The first thing a Mediator will likely do is acknowledge the parties’ emotional states and empathize with each party to gain their trust and confidence. The next step in the process is clearly defining the issues of the dispute and each party’s position. Once the issues are defined and positions are stated, the Mediator will help the parties understand the strengths of the other side’s position and weaknesses of their own positions to begin the process of compromise. The Mediator may travel back and forth between the separate meeting rooms many times carrying questions, answers, demands, counter demands, offers of settlement and counter offers to help the parties narrow their issues and bridge the gap between the amount of monetary relief that will generally resolve the dispute.
The Benefits of Mediation
A good Mediator will focus the parties on the benefits of having them determine their own destiny than have someone else impose their decision upon them. Mediators serving in the resolution of FINRA arbitration proceedings generally have expertise in that industry and industry disputes. In most securities industry mediations, the Mediator is not constrained by any court rule prohibiting mediator opinions. A good securities industry Mediator should be able to define the issues, assess supporting and damaging facts so that the mediation can be successful in fully and partially resolving disputes. At the very least, mediation will help the parties understand their differences, lose their emotional connection, and become more rational and practical in their decision making. If a Mediator can help the parties toward that end, a partial or full resolution of the dispute may be possible at some point in time. The sooner a dispute is resolved, the more every party will benefit in terms of reduced personal distress and financial hardship. When a dispute is settled in arbitration or litigation, it typically translates into huge savings of personal strife, time and money for everyone involved.