Clinic gives law students real experience

After six years of financial advising experience, MSU law student Renwei Chung knew assisting at Investor Advocacy Clinic would be the next step in landing a job in Grand Rapids, after he graduates.

Chung was one of seven MSU law students chosen to spend the fall semester away from the classroom. Instead, he will be learning what it means to investigate real cases.

Made possible by support from the MSU College of Law and a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the clinic will provide free legal help to those who have lost money because of a financial professional’s misconduct or bad advice and might not be able to afford to hire an attorney.

“A lot of times, people who don’t have a lot of assets don’t know where to go to seek legal advice,” Chung said. “I think this will help us do just that. A lot of people who couldn’t afford legal council before will now be able to.”

The clinic is set to launch this upcoming fall semester. With clients already signed up, the clinic will aim to help ordinary investors.

“What the clinic does is represents investors who have a lawsuit of around or less than $100,000,” said MSU professor of law and Director of the Investor Advocacy Clinic Ben Edwards. “These people have lost money because of bad investment advice (and) their lawsuits aren’t big enough for a private attorney … If they don’t have representation, it’s very hard for them to recover anything.”

MSU Law student Devin Bone, who is interested in security and alternate disputes, was also chosen to help run the Investor Advocacy Clinic, and is excited to delve into this hands-on opportunity.

“I’m all about getting hands-on practical experience — one of the biggest flaws about law school is that it doesn’t prepare you for working in a courtroom. I’ll be nervous when I get my first client with real people that have lost money,” he continued. “You control a very important thing, the amount of money they lost is significant to them.”

The students additionally will be making investor presentations to inform people about basic investing and steps they can take to reduce the chance they will fall prey to investment fraud, Edwards said. Advice on how to use the FINRA website to determine if a broker is registered or have numerous complaints are some of the things students will include in the presentation.

“This helps students develop real skills (and learn) how to interact with clients,” Edwards said. “We’ll encounter different issues, but I feel like we have a very strong group
of students.”

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The State News.