Securities & Commodities Litigation


Whether markets are up or down, investors sue the perceived “deep pockets” of financial service providers and similar large entities. From Massachusetts to Arizona, from Michigan to Texas, it is to the responsive, skilled and sophisticated attorneys of Ulmer & Berne that many of the nation’s major corporations, banks and financial service firms turn to confront and resolve charges of securities fraud, misrepresentation, unauthorized trading or alleged violations of SEC and related regulations, whether lodged as individual suits or class actions. Ulmer & Berne attorneys also represent a variety of clients regularly in regulatory and investigatory proceedings in courts, the SEC, FINRA, NYSE and other state and federal bodies.

Corporate directors and officers turn to Ulmer & Berne for advice on shareholder issues, to resolve governance disputes, and to represent special litigation committees. With backgrounds in federal and state securities agencies and daily experience in the trenches of current securities litigation, our attorneys offer client-centered, practical advice and counsel.

Clients see the strength of the firm both in its reach across litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings and in its size. Ulmer & Berne is large enough to handle any securities litigation matter anywhere in the nation from its four Midwest offices. At the same time, we are small enough to be efficient, responsive and cost-competitive.

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Michael A. Gross As loyal readers are undoubtedly already aware, I used to work for NASD, and Michael Gross more recently came to Ulmer from FINRA. That hardly means we win every FINRA Enforcement case we are engaged to defend. To suggest that because we...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper A couple of years ago, I blogged about the concept of “reverse churning,” i.e., putting a customer who trades only infrequently into a fee-based account, thus costing the customer a lot more than it would have cost that customer to be in a commission-based...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Michael A. Gross I have spoken about FINRA possibly putting an end to the policy of pursuing cases where formal disciplinary action serves little to no regulatory purpose. That welcome paradigm shift may be upon us. This year, FINRA, in essence, pronounced that its “broken...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper I have often used this forum to complain about FINRA’s lack of backbone when it comes to dealing with PIABA, the group of lawyers who represent customers of broker-dealers, principally in arbitrations. Over the years, FINRA has amended its rules time and...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper Expungement is a funny thing, and here’s why: for years, claimants’ counsel have complained loudly to FINRA that expungement was being granted too frequently, that legitimate customer complaints were disappearing from CRD, resulting in an unfair, sanitized representation of brokers’ records that...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper I have used this forum before on occasion to complain about the vagaries of the FINRA arbitration process, and, in particular, the perspective of a respondent’s counsel that the game often seems to be rigged in favor of claimants. Let me give...

Here is a really interesting post from Michael Gross regarding those potentially uncomfortable moments when FINRA calls non-complaining customers. Because FINRA is not the government, it has no subpoena power over these people, and so needs them to cooperate voluntarily. The problem is that FINRA does an awful job of...

On January 12, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the constitutionality of the SEC’s appointment of its in-house administrative law judges (“ALJs” for short). As we’ve discussed previously on the blog, a trip to SCOTUS seemed inevitable after the 10th Circuit handed down its decision in Bandimere, concluding that the SEC...

I would imagine that the point of FINRA releasing its list of exam priorities each year is to help firms who are actually going to be examined, by providing a glimpse into FINRA’s playbook so they can address, proactively, the issues they know FINRA will focus on. To be forewarned...

Ulmer Partner, Ken Berg, is in the news. Ken is quoted in the Investment News article, “Supreme Court review of SEC judges could roil pending cases.” The article describes how a Supreme Court case on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s use of internal judges could put more than 100 pending...

As I have discussed before, there are some rule violations that are going to happen no matter what FINRA says about them, no matter how many Enforcement cases it brings, and no matter what BDs do to “detect and prevent” such violations. A prime example of such is outside business...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper Once again, Rule 8210 has me frustrated. And angry. Well, not the rule itself, but the aggressive manner in which FINRA continues to wield it, and how its scope is interpreted by hearing panels called upon to consider cases involving what seem...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper As promised, FINRA has released its first Report outlining common findings from its examinations, in an effort to help member firms comply with the rules and, presumably, avoid problems that other firms encountered. A noble idea, especially for an entity not exactly known (at...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Heidi E. VonderHeide After spending the last few years ferociously denying that there was any constitutional issue with the manner in which SEC Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) were appointed to their position, this morning, the SEC announced that it had “ratified” the prior appointment of each...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Michael A. Gross Michael discusses the differences in examiners — and, potentially — examination results from District Office to District Office. Remember, however, that such differences aren’t supposed to exist! That’s why the Office of Disciplinary Affairs exists. I suppose the question is whether...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper A week or so ago, I highlighted in a post the acceptance speech of PIABA’s incoming president, Andrew Stoltmann, in which he announced his intent to wage “war” on the securities industry. Bluster aside, Andrew has been true to his word.  His...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Michael A. Gross Here is a post from Michael Gross about a recent settlement involving the submission of false expense reports.  The issue isn’t the misconduct, but, rather, the rather tepid sanctions imposed. Do I sense the pendulum starting to swing back? – Alan...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper It has been said that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but I wonder if FINRA feels that way after having been featured in a number of less-than-favorable, or at least curious, media stories over the last couple of weeks. First, two...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper I have stated more than once in these posts that among claimants’ counsel, I have perhaps the greatest respect for Andrew Stoltmann, a fellow Chicagoan. I am not saying that I ever agree with anything he has to say, because I don’t,...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper Bear with me here as I relate the tale of John Saad and his tortuous path through the FINRA Enforcement process and, ultimately, the court system. It is worth following me on this journey, as the upshot of the story is that...

Ulmer & Berne LLP announced that financial services litigator, Jonathon D. Drews, has joined the firm as an associate in its growing Chicago office. The addition of Drews, who comes to Ulmer from Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, reinforces the firm’s highly-ranked Financial Services & Securities Litigation Practice Group. “Over the...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper I am on the record, many times, with my belief that, at least in theory, FINRA should never lose any Enforcement cases it files. This is for the simple reason that if FINRA has any genuine doubts about its ability to...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper All of you who use Equifax to conduct a part of your CIP responsibilities, raise your hands. Ok, now, only to those of you whose hands are in the air: how many of you have checked your firm’s incident response...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan M. Wolper A little over a year ago, the SEC announced a stunning settlement with Merrill Lynch regarding its violation of SEC Rule 15c3-3, commonly known as the “Customer Protection Rule.” This is an important rule whose name gives away its purpose:  it is designed...

Ulmer & Berne LLP is pleased to announce that Cleveland-based associate Candice Capoziello recently became an Associate Board Member for Recovery Resources. Recovery Resources is a Cleveland nonprofit dedicated to providing prevention, intervention, treatment, and supportive services to initiate, manage, and sustain recovery from addiction and mental health challenges. The...

In a May 25, 2017 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Opinion and Order dismissing a reparations claim based on statute of limitations grounds. Conway Family Trust v. Commodities Futures Trading Commission, No. 16-3289 (7th Cir. 2017). Notably, the court...

SEC Disgorgement Could Face Tough Crowd At High Court From Law360 By Carmen Germaine “Of the cases that are up in front of the Supreme Court, with Gorsuch being appointed, this is not one of the more high-profile cases — there’s many cases that have much more profile and wide-sweeping impacts...

Following an eight-day hearing held in Washington, D.C., a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) administrative law judge dismissed the administrative proceedings against Equity Trust Company (Equity Trust),  and found that Equity Trust did not cause the alleged violation of federal securities laws committed by two unrelated parties. Howard Groedel, a...

Ulmer & Berne is ranked in 39 categories in the 2016 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings. Among these, the firm earns U.S. News – Best Lawyers highest rankings in 21 categories. The firm also ranks nationally in 16 categories. Firms included in the 2016 “Best Law...

Ulmer & Berne announces that six of the firm’s partners have been recognized in the 2016 edition of Benchmark Litigation as “State Litigation Stars,” a designation given to those individuals who were recommended consistently as reputable and effective litigators by clients and peers. The following Ulmer & Berne attorneys were...

Chicago-based partner Alan Wolper has been named co-chair of Ulmer & Berne’s Financial Services & Securities Litigation Practice Group. Mr. Wolper joins Cleveland-based partner Frances Floriano Goins in leading the group. Mr. Wolper focuses his practice exclusively on the representation of brokers, broker-dealers and investment advisors. He defends regulatory investigations...

“Michael Nathan Ungar | Ulmer & Berne LLP” Cleveland Jewish News January 15, 2015 Perennial Super Lawyer Michael Nathan Ungar considers settlement of a dispute embroiling Case Western University among his most memorable cases of 2014. Read the full article »

Ulmer & Berne LLP is ranked in 40 categories in the 2015 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” rankings. Among these, the firm earns U.S. News – Best Lawyers’ highest ranking in 23 categories. The firm also ranks nationally in 17 categories. Ulmer & Berne achieved a “Metropolitan Tier...

Ulmer & Berne LLP has been ranked within the top 10 percent of all law firms by The BTI Consulting Group, one of the nation’s leading legal industry research firms, in their recently published 2015 BTI Litigation Outlook report. The firm was selected as a “Litigation Powerhouse” and is named...

Ulmer & Berne LLP was named 2014 Ohio Firm of the Year by Benchmark Litigation at the second annual Benchmark Litigation US Awards held at the Essex Hotel in New York City on January 29, 2014. The US Benchmark Awards were based on a six-month research period involving extensive interviews...

March 2013 – The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week in Amgen Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-1085_9o6b.pdf, may have a major impact on public companies and their directors and officers seeking early settlement of “fraud-on-the-market” securities fraud cases. The decision has been described as a set-back...

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