The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is gearing up for an impactful event that promises to highlight the critical need for investor access to legal counsel. The 2024 Investor Advocacy Clinic Summit is set to bring together law students, their professors, SEC staff, and other distinguished guests to delve into the issues addressed and the invaluable lessons learned while providing pro bono legal services to underrepresented investors.
Expanding Horizons: A Summit for Legal Empowerment
Hosted by the SEC’s Office of the Ombuds, this momentous event will take place at the SEC Headquarters in the heart of Washington, D.C. Furthermore, it will be livestreamed, ensuring that its insights and discussions are accessible to a wider audience. Mark your calendars for Friday, March 1, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET and tune in at https://www.sec.gov/.
Inclusivity Takes Center Stage
This year’s Summit marks a significant departure from previous editions, as it extends invitations to law schools that do not have investor advocacy clinics. Many of these schools are located in areas where free legal services for investors are a rarity.
Stacy Puente, SEC Ombuds, emphasizes the importance of this inclusion, stating, “Investors who cannot afford private counsel are significantly disadvantaged in arbitration or litigation with their financial professionals. The clinics help level that playing field, advocating for the personal interests of these investors.”
Exploring Impact and Outreach
The Summit’s agenda is nothing short of comprehensive. It will explore the far-reaching impact of the students’ legal work on their clients, their respective law schools, their communities, and on the students themselves.
Students will also have the opportunity to actively participate in panel discussions with SEC staff, shedding light on topics like investor outreach and the pivotal role of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in their clinic work.
Co-hosted by the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) and Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI), the event will feature dedicated staff available to discuss the SEC’s investor resources and potential career paths within the agency.
Educating and Empowering Investors
Lori Schock, OIEA Director, emphasizes the significance of these outreach efforts, stating, “Through its outreach efforts and Investor.gov, the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy provides tools and information to help investors make better-informed investment decisions and avoid fraud. Investor advocacy clinics and law students can play a vital role in helping us promote these important resources.”
Allison Wise, Acting Director of OMWI, echoes this sentiment, saying, “OMWI is eager to engage with law students from across the country and spark transformative conversations aimed at broadening their work as student attorneys through a diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility lens.”
Notable Speakers and Institutions
The Summit will see participation from esteemed figures in the financial and legal sectors. Expect to hear insightful remarks from the SEC Chair, SEC Commissioners, Division Directors, the Investor Advocate, and the Director of FINRA Dispute Resolution Services. The keynote address will be delivered by Nicole Iannarone, Chair of FINRA’s National Arbitration and Mediation Committee and Professor of the Drexel University Kline School of Law.
Several renowned law schools have committed to participating in this event. These institutions include Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Cornell University Law School, Fordham University School of Law, Howard University School of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, St. John’s University School of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law, University of Miami School of Law, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Stay Informed and Get Involved
For those interested in learning more about the Summit or wishing to RSVP, please reach out to Summit2024@sec.gov. Join us in this critical conversation about empowering investors and promoting legal access.
The 2024 Investor Advocacy Clinic Summit is poised to be a landmark event, providing valuable insights and strategies to ensure that all investors have a fair and equitable chance to protect their interests and navigate the complexities of the financial world.