FINRA announces social media webinar.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, as the securities industry’s regulator, is on the lookout for new and creative ways for brokers to get themselves and their firms in trouble. First it was email. And lawyers had a field day with whether or not email constituted correspondence or simply a “communication”. Systems were developed, along with rules, to supervise email.

The World Wide Web came along with email. Obviously this was a form of advertising, but how was it going to be regulated by FINRA and supervised by the firms?

The next hole in the dike was Instant Messaging. How could a firm supervise that? Thanks to “open architecture”, certain IM systems could be used and supervised.

Now we have social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and, to a lesser extent, MySpace. This is, by no means, a complete list. And it does not address the foreign sites. What’s a firm to do?

One alternative is to ban the use of social media altogether. That would be a nice try, but I doubt it would be effective. Another is to regulate it and supervise it. this is the route that they will need to follow. FINRA is offering a webinar (how fitting) on social media.

There are some interesting questions here. If a broker is friendly with a client before the client relationship existed, what communications need to be supervised? How about if the client and broker become friends after the relationship is formed? I know that, in my representation of brokers, they frequently develop client relationships with people they like. This is what we called a “slippery slope” in law school. In other words, where does the line get drawn? We’ll see.

That’s the view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida. My name is Marc Dobin.

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Marc S. Dobin quoted in Compliance Watch Blog for Dow Jones.

I was quoted on the Compliance Watch blog by Suzanne Barlyn. Suzanne is a well-respected reporter on the financial scene. She knows who to talk to and asks the right questions.

This article was written about former Lehman Brothers brokers who are left defending claims regarding products sold while they were employed at Lehman. With the bankruptcy of Lehman, there is no traditional “deep pocket” so investors are looking to their broker for restitution. This is generally not an effective strategy as most brokers do not have the kind of money the client is looking for.

The larger firms generally do not have insurance against these claims. So the brokers are unprotected as well.

That’s the view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida. I’m Marc Dobin.

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Look, Mom, I’m on television

A client sent me this link to a YouTube video. It appears that one of the hard-working traders in the background was using his expensive equipment for something other than trading. His employer was not amused.

That’s the bemused view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida. My name is Marc Dobin.

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Marc S. Dobin, Securities Lawyer, Featured on

I was featured in an online article for the website “Lawyers and Settlements.”

Securities Fraud – Securities Fraud Lawsuits |

The “read your statements” comment was drawn from an article I read in Investment News. Too scared to open statements, couple loses in arbitration – Investment News
More than 20 years ago, I represented Prudential-Bache Securities in an arbitration where the client’s lawyer thought a good defense was to demonstrate that the client did not read his statements. I could not comprehend that strategy. Neither could the arbitrators.
The statements are sent to customers for a reason. In many cases, a brokerage account is worth the same as, if not more than, an investor’s house. Why wouldn’t you want to know what is going on?
That’s the view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida. My name is Marc Dobin.
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Spammers are idiots.

I’m a securities and commercial litigator. I have a serious practice. I try not to take myself too seriously, but I know I have a job to do.

When I set up my new practice, I needed a website. I went to my old friends at Justia and set up a website with a form to contact me. It took about a week for the spammers to find me.

But it doesn’t make sense. I’m getting “inquiries” relating to selling me Viagra of dubious origin and gambling sites of dubious distinction. Do they really think this is effective advertising?

I handle securities cases and commercial disputes. My life is spent primarily in arbitration and, to a lesser extent, in court. Of what possible use would “Viagra” (if it really is Viagra) have to my litigation and arbitration practice? If I took it would it make me a better lawyer? I doubt it. Distracted, maybe.

Spammers – keep your spam to yourself. Lawyers with inquiry boxes are not interested in your wares.

That’s the view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Florida. I’m Marc Dobin.

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How a lawyer can help a registered representative get registered.

This is one of the fun parts of my practice – I got to make a client happy. An old client called me. He had changed firms and the State of Florida had asked him for some additional information regarding an item in his past that was 22 years old. He had gotten registered before, and his U-4 and CRD report were unremarkable, but, for some reason, this item popped in his most recent application.

I spoke to a representative at the State of Florida who explained the situation and why they requested the information. It was a legitimate request and they were simply making sure that all the right disclosures had been made. They had been properly made. The State of Florida approved his registration.
I called the client and told him. He was ecstatic. He’s back in business. Did he need my help? A little. Did my involvement make him feel more comfortable, sure. Was I happy to do it? Absolutely.
That’s the view of this lawyer from Jupiter, Florida. I’m Marc Dobin.
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Are Utah securities regulators out of control?

There are so many potholes that a registered representative needs to avoid. I have represented any number of brokers who had committed an offense on the level of a parking ticket and you would have thought that they kidnapped the Lindbergh baby. I had one client who was “on the beach” for nearly two years before he was allowed to relicense. I have written about the impact that items like this have on a broker’s U-4 and U-5 when I was writing The Law Planet blog.

Now, Investment News has published a “man bites dog” story about two brokers who are going after the State of Utah, its governor and some current and former regulators. The brokers are complaining about the heavyhanded treatment they received from their state’s regulators, including requesting copies of communications with their church. And this got me thinking…

When I was writing The Law Planet, I discussed, more than once, that I thought that Equity Index Annuities needed to be regulated as securities. I felt that they looked and smelled like securities and, eventually, the SEC agreed with me. At least one reader did not. She actually called my office to tell me I was wrong. But I wasn’t.

The Investment News article describes some infractions that were serious and some that were incidental. But what appears to have really ticked off one of the brokers is that the press release announcing resolution of the regulatory matter is allegedly wrong and defamatory. Oops.

When I review broker’s records, it’s kind of like sitting by the side of the road getting a speeding ticket. You were going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit while others are whizzing by you at 20 miles over. And you wonder to yourself, “Why did I get stopped?” It might be the red sports car you’re driving. One of the Utah plaintiffs was a big donor to the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. Might that have put him on radar?

There’s no predicting what puts a broker on the regulator’s radar screen. But drawing public attention usually helps.

That’s the view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Florida – I’m Marc Dobin

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Breaking up is hard to do – Untangling one’s self in the Internet world.

Here’s something that one didn’t worry about 10 years ago. I am trying to unwind myself from Internet links that use my name and refer to my former firm. There is, Findlaw, Avvo and Justia just to name a few. And that is only the legal-specific sites.

Then there are sites that aggregate data and repeat it on their own site. Sites like Jigsaw, Spoke and others try to piece things together for the user.
And, of course, there are the social networking sites. Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo are the ones I have used the most. So I had to remember usernames and passwords for those (I remember my Facebook and LinkedIn, my Plaxo was a little more difficult) and change all the info.
It’s been said that a couple breaks up when they delete each other’s phone numbers from their phone (of course, this does not appear to be the course of conduct for Tiger Woods). In my case, simply re-establishing my web identity, separate and apart from my former firm, is just another part of the process.
That’s the view from Jupiter in lovely Palm Beach County – I’m Marc Dobin
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Electronic faxing – the wave of the future.

Most people know that I like technology. Even though I spend most of my day dealing with brokerage account statements, confirmations, arbitration claims and the like, it is the technology that makes my life easier. When I decided to re-open Marc S. Dobin, P.A. in Jupiter, Florida, I decided that I would use electronic fax technology.

I researched several services and ultimately settled on UnityFax. It is $4.99 per month, which is noticeably cheaper than a telephone line. It gives me unlimited inbound faxes to four email boxes. And, as long as they stay in business, I can move my office as much as I want and never have to change my fax line. The faxes are high quality and, so far, the service has been excellent.

Keep you eyes on this space as I discuss more about how my office is set up.
That’s the view from Jupiter, I’m Marc Dobin.
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About Me and Welcome

Thanks for finding my blog. It will be tough for a little while.

My name is Marc Dobin. I was a founding partner of Dobin & Jenks, LLP, here in Jupiter. While I was there, my then-partner, Debra Jenks, said that our web people said that I should write a blog. I was skeptical. Our “web people” actually set me up with a blogging “coach”. I thought that a blogging coach was akin to an eating coach, I don’t need help with either.
But I went through the blogging instruction, and like a little rosebud, I blossomed a bit. People were actually reading my blog. It was not just a tree falling in the woods with nobody around to hear it. I started having fun writing my blog. I met people through my blog.
Then Dobin (me) and Jenks (she) went their separate ways. I formed Marc S. Dobin, P.A., in Jupiter, Florida, and Debra joined a different firm. I kept the Law Planet blog going. I actually had someone so angry about a blog post that they called me in my office to tell me that I was wrong. I wasn’t, so the joke is on her.
I convinced myself that the solo life wasn’t for me. So, after nine months as a solo practitioner, I joined LaBovick & LaBovick, P.A. I met great people there. Lots of people to talk to in the morning, during the day and at night. But it took me nine months to figure out that working in someone else’s firm was even less fun than working on my own. I was sad to say it, but I had to leave. And when I left, I honored the commitment I made to leave The Law Planet at LaBovick & LaBovick.
So, on January 11, 2010, I returned to my solo practice as Marc S. Dobin, P.A. with a new vision for how I want my practice to look. But I didn’t have my blog anymore. Yet I knew that my ravings were interesting to some, aggravating to others and a way to find new people to talk to. Now I had to pick a name.
I couldn’t use the Law Planet Blog, that was taken. I thought about “Not the Law Planet Blog” but I didn’t want my friends (really, we parted as friends) at L&L to think I was trying to mess with them. So then I thought about how The Law Planet got its name in the first place — Jupiter, my home for over 16 years and where the office was located. And I let my mind wander. Next thing that popped into my head was “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. And “Lawyers are from Jupiter.” Thus, a blog name was born.
It’s still the same old me, a little older, wiser (I hope), even a little bit quieter. But if men don’t understand women because they are from Venus, men and women both can agree on one thing — Lawyers are from Jupiter.
May this be a healthy, prosperous and safe 2010 for all three readers that find this post.
That’s the view from Jupiter and I continue to be Marc Dobin.
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