Securities attorneys and lawyers can practice is a wide variety of areas.
Transactional Securities Attorneys
Certain securities attorneys focus on transactional securities work which includes counseling issuers, underwriters and placement agents in private and public offerings under the Securities Act of 1933; advising on mergers and acquisitions or going private transactions; and preparing regulatory filings required under state and federal securities laws under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Sarbanes Oxley and the Dodd-Frank Act.
Securities Litigation and Arbitration Attorneys
Other securities laws may focus on securities litigation and arbitration. Securities litigation and arbitration cases are prosecuted and defended by securities attorneys on behalf of various parties including shareholders, private and publicly-traded companies, officers, directors, and senior management, individuals and institutional investors, stock brokers, brokerage firms, broker-dealers, underwriters, investment banks, pension funds, and hedge funds.
In addition to recouping lost assets, private securities litigation also augments the efforts of federal regulators to pursue wrongdoers and to provide a deterrent to future violations.
Derivative actions are lawsuits brought by shareholders on behalf of the company against senior managers and officers. Generally, the claim is brought where the shareholders believe that the senior managers are breaching their fiduciary duties to the company through malfeasance. Plaintiffs may seek both injunctive relief (directing the end of the wrongful acts) and may seek compensatory damages to be paid by the rogue managers directly to the company.
State & Federal Lawsuits
In lawsuits and arbitration, securities lawyers may allege violations of state or federal securities laws and may also allege common law claims including breaches of fiduciary duty or fraud depending on the factual scenarios. Retaining a securities attorney to initiate a securities lawsuit may be the only means for for a shareholder to recover asset or investment losses caused by corporate fraud or malfeasance. Such actions may be filed in state or federal court depending upon the type of claims asserted.
In addition to individual lawsuits, securities class actions may be filed on behalf of classes of shareholders who have similar interests and similar claims. Because of the significant expense in engaging in securities litigation against large, publicly-traded companies, class actions provide means for recovery for shareholders with a small financial stake in the litigation.
Securities class actions are filed by securities attorneys who represent individuals who seek to serve as class representatives. Class representatives must have claims similar to the other members of the class and must be approved by the court. If a settlement is achieved between the class representative and the defendants, class members generally have three options: (1) participate in the settlement for their pro-rata share; (2) opt-out of the settlement (and pursue their claims in separate litigation); (3) participate in the settlement, but object to certain parts of the settlement – such as the allocation of the settlement or object to the amount of attorney’s fees sought by the class attorneys.
Some securities disputes arise in the context of a stock broker/client relationship. In most circumstances, a customer will enter into an agreement to arbitrate any disputes that arise between him and his broker in connection with his brokerage account. For example, a dispute may arise when a broker is involved with the solicitation or sale of an unregistered security which leads to a loss of the customer’s investment. Often the brokerage agreements specify that such disputes will be resolved before FINRA dispute resolution. Arbitration can differ drastically than litigation in state and federal courts for securities attorney. For example, there is no jury in FINRA arbitration, there are very limited rules of procedure and discovery and there are very limited grounds to appeal a FINRA arbitration award.