FINRA announced today the formation of a new Arbitration Task Force “to consider possible enhancements to its arbitration forum to improve the transparency, impartiality and efficiency of FINRA’s securities arbitration forum for all participants.” The 13-member Task Force will be Chaired by Professor Barbara Black, my former colleague and frequent co-author, and will include forum arbitrators, representatives from the securities industry, investor advocates and attorneys, industry attorneys and a regulator.
Because virtually all broker-dealers require their customers to arbitrate their disputes, FINRA’s arbitration program, which administers virtually all of these disputes, continues to be criticized as some investors perceive the process is unfair. FINRA last appointed a task force to conduct a wholesale examination of its arbitration forum in the mid 1990's, when David S. Ruder (Professor of Law Emeritus, Northwestern) chaired the Arbitration Policy Task Force that issued a January 1996 report to the Board of Governors of NASD (FINRA’s predecessor). The “Ruder Report,” as it is known, led to many important reforms of the process.
Given my respect for Professor Black, I have no doubt that the “Black Report” will contain similarly significant recommendations to increase the fairness for all disputants.
Professor Jill I. Gross has been a director of the Investor Rights Clinic (formerly the Securities Arbitration Clinic) since 1999. Professor Gross teaches the Investor Rights Clinic and Seminar, Mediation and Arbitration, and Securities Litigation and Enforcement. She has published numerous law review articles in the area of dispute resolution and investor justice, and has been quoted in the national media on issues relating to securities arbitration. Professor Gross is a public member of the FINRA National Arbitration and Mediation Committee, and is the program co-chair of PIABA’s annual Securities Law Seminar. As Director of Legal Skills, Professor Gross oversees and provides leadership on all matters related to curricular skills training, including writing programs, advocacy programs, and all clinics, externships, and simulations. Professor Gross previously taught as an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School (Arbitration Law) and at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (Legal Writing). She is an arbitrator for FINRA Dispute Resolution and the National Futures Association. Professor Gross was an attorney in the New York City firms of Kaye Scholer LLP, Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Silberberg, and Parcher Hayes & Snyder, representing clients in white collar criminal and securities enforcement proceedings, securities arbitrations, and other commercial litigation.