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Securities Law Clinic

The Securities Law Clinic (SLC) provides students with an opportunity to develop fundamental investigatory and advocacy skills in the context of the substantive laws governing investments.

About the Clinic

The clinic provides both classroom and hands-on experience addressing public investor disputes with securities broker-dealers. Classroom time focuses on the substantive conduct and arbitration rules of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The range of projects at any given time varies with real-world events, but can include “live-client” case evaluation and prosecution through FINRA, regulatory comment letters, public presentations on preventing investment fraud, mock mediation and arbitration events, amicus briefs, and research projects. The SLC offers up to a three-semester sequence, though students can take only the intro semester if desired.


Coursework includes training in skills such as interviewing potential clients, evaluating potential claims, preparing pleadings, conducting discovery, representing clients at hearings, and negotiating settlements. The SLC conducts in-house mock mediations and mock arbitrations using actual case documents so that students get a real-world advocacy experience.

Substantive topics covered include:

  • Excessive trading and “churning”
  • Suitability
  • Misrepresentation and fraud
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Investment products such as variable annuities and equity-indexed annuities

Research and Writing

Students have the opportunity to research and write on legal topics of importance to investors, including regulatory comment letters, amicus briefs, and research articles. Numerous SLC students have had their research papers published in law and Bar journals. The SLC also provides input and editing for the securities arbitration sections of the Cornell Legal Information Institute.

Investor Representation

The SLC fills a need in the largely rural Southern Tier region of upstate New York, where the public does not generally have access to an extensive private bar with experience in investor rights. A focus of the clinic is representation of public investors in disputes subject to arbitration at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), though the availability of cases varies from semester to semester.

Community Outreach

As part of its community outreach, the SLC also provides public education on investment fraud, with particular attention to investment schemes targeting the elderly and retirees. Substantive legal topics covered in the clinic include the scope and nature of binding arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act and New York law, and the legal and regulatory remedies available to defrauded investors.

Three-Semester Sequence

Securities Law Clinic I is the introductory course.

Securities Law Clinic II is an optional second-semester course for students who have completed Securities Law Clinic I and want to further hone their advocacy and investor representation skills.

Securities Law Clinic III is an optional third semester, generally reserved for students who want to continue working on cases and projects that carry over from SLC II.


William Jacobson
Clinical Professor and Director of the Securities Law Clinic
(607) 255-6293
Cornell Law School
G28J Hughes Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

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