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Why You Should Leave the Courtroom to the Pros

Being injured can disrupt your life, especially if it is a serious injury. You might be permanently disabled, physically hurt in a way that prevents you from continuing work, or even suffer from traumatic stress. If you suffered an injury because of someone being neglectful or negligent, then you may be entitled to compensation. Many people will attempt to settle these matters themselves as a way to cut costs and ensure they do not have to pay lawyer fees, but if it is a major injury that costs you more than $2,000, leaves you with a permanent injury, or puts you out of work for several days, you really need to hire a personal injury lawyer to handle the affair for you. In the long run, you will actually save money and get more of the compensation you deserve if you hire a personal injury lawyer.

injury lawyerAn attorney is better equipped to deal with insurance companies and build a solid case to break through any defenses that a company may create in an attempt to minimize their losses as a result of their negligence. Large companies almost always have a legal department staffed with people who work only on legal cases and claims such as yours in order to reduce costs of lawsuits and claims filed against them. It will be almost impossible to successfully receive appropriate compensation from companies with a dedicated legal department. If you live in a city known as a transportation hub such as Nashville, TN or Chicago, IL, you will see more cases that involve companies with their own legal department. Therefore, an injury lawyer Nashville will have more experience with handling these types of cases than a smaller town that is located away from major interstates.

Whether you are filing a claim against a large company or an individual, you still have a long hard road ahead of you. If you attempt to settle this on your own, you will be taking on a lot of stress, hours of research and work, and in the end you are not as experienced as a personal injury lawyer so your results will simply not be up to par with a lawyer’ skills, time management, and expertise. You may actually do more damage to your case than help it since you don’t have the knowledge and experience in personal injury law. The attorney will know the laws very well and know the best way to approach your case and get you the compensation that you should have.

The relief of knowing an expert is working for you is enough to hire a personal injury lawyer. Now add the fact that no matter how much effort you put into a case on your own, a personal injury lawyer is just more experienced and will be able to put together a professional case with elements that you would have never thought of looking into. Attorneys gather reports on the incident as well as extensive medical records on you, even records that were in the distant past. Some of these searches and research are to convince them that you have a legitimate case, others are to prove that your condition was acquired from the incident. Never underestimate the advantages of having a professional on your side, especially during difficult times of struggling through an unnecessary injury for which you deserve proper compensation.

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Why Securities Brokerages Fear a Fiduciary Duty Standard

Since 1994, I have been privileged to represent hundreds of individual investors in securities disputes with their stock brokerage firms. I have witnessed first-hand the devastation and irreparable damage some stock brokers cause in their quest to earn as much income as possible for themselves and their brokerage firms. Often, the devastation is ignored and even encouraged by the securities industry through compensation programs and incentives that are designed for the benefit of the industry and to the detriment of the customer. In extreme cases, many securities industry insiders boast of their ability to “rip the client’s face off” as if this skill was truly something to be proud of. Perhaps former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith said it best in his resignation letter entitled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.” Smith’s letter was printed in the March 14, 2012 edition of the Wall Street Journal. Smith described Goldman’s corporate culture as “the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money.” Smith’s description is at odds with Goldman’s corporate slogan of “our client’s interests always come first.”

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The 2008 global economic melt-down and the ensuing Great Recession have led more and more investors to conclude that Wall Street simply cannot be trusted. Lost in the chaos of corporate greed is the fact that the securities industry cannot continue to exist without real assurances and meaningful action that it will stop ripping the faces off customers. We are a long way from the days of Morgan Stanley earning respect “one client at a time.”

In many other industries, when public relations disaster occurs, executives implement a comprehensive public relations campaign to stem the tide of bad press and shore up their industry credibility — all in an effort to earn back the respect and trust of their customers. A sincere public relations campaign, when implemented effectively, is often the only real solution to restoring trust and credibility. So why hasn’t Wall Street done the same?

Perhaps one reason Wall Street has not owned up to its abuses is illustrated in the findings of a recent poll among Wall Street personnel. In a July 10, 2012 survey, a quarter of Wall Street executives see wrongdoing as a key to success. In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful. Sixteen percent of respondents said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it. The survey also revealed that 30 percent said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law. The sad reality is crime does pay on Wall Street. The absence of meaningful regulation only serves to perpetuate this corporate dysfunction.

The survey also helps us understand the primary reason Wall Street does not want to change. Wall Street does not want to pay the price of change. That price is establishing a fiduciary duty standard in the industry.

A fiduciary duty in the securities industry requires that the brokerage act solely in the best interest of the customer, free of any self-dealing, conflicts of interest, or other abuse for the advantage of the brokerage. In simple terms, a fiduciary duty is simply doing what is best for the customer. A fiduciary duty standard would not allow brokerages to sell products to customers simply to generate more profit for the brokerage. A fiduciary duty would prohibit a brokerage from selling products to unsuspecting customers because the expected failure of those products would generate profits for the brokerages. A fiduciary duty would also require full and complete transparency in the methods of compensation paid to the brokerage.

All is not lost. Many financial advisors currently adhere to a fiduciary duty standard. Some financial advisors are affiliated with registered investment advisory firms. In this business model, the advisor is bound by a fiduciary duty and is legally required to do what is best for the customer. This business model exists and operates quite well. However, many of the well known securities firms are not registered investment advisory firms. Firms such as Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley operate as securities broker dealers and not as registered investment advisory firms. When pressed (typically when a dispute arises) these firms disavow any fiduciary duty owed to customers. These firms go to great lengths to avoid a fiduciary duty standard in defense of their actions. While advertising campaigns may promise that these firms will adhere “to a higher standard”; when a dispute arises, the firms will run for cover and disavow any fiduciary duty owed to any customer.

In California, all securities broker dealers are held to a fiduciary duty. Do not be fooled with disingenuous claims otherwise. A fiduciary duty standard is the only viable standard to restore trust in the industry. Ask yourself, what is Wall Street afraid of?

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