Drew Clayton and Worth Graham concentrate their practice in the representation of investors who have disputes with brokerage firms and issuers of securities. Typical disputes, which are often the subject of securities arbitration proceedings conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), involve claims of fraud, negligence and unsuitable investment recommendations arising from the recommendation of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, hedge funds, annuities, options, and other securities. The law firm is also engaged in business and estate-related litigation and arbitration.

At this time, the firm is handling cases on behalf of investors involving millions of dollars in dispute. From time to time, the firm represents securities industry employees in disputes with their former employers and in regulatory proceedings.

The firm’s principal attorney, W. Andrew Clayton, Jr., is certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a circuit civil court mediator and is available to help attorneys and others to settle their disputes.

Areas of Focus

Securities Arbitration and Litigation

Most disputes between customers and brokerage firms are resolved through securities arbitration. That is because most customer agreements with brokerage firms require that all disputes be submitted to arbitration instead of court. Arbitration proceedings are most often administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) which appoints a panel of three arbitrators to hear testimony and review documentary evidence. Securities arbitration cases take about 18 months from filing the initial statement of claim through a final arbitration hearing (i.e., a trial), which is often three or more days long. However, about 75% of all cases settle before they get to a final arbitration hearing.

Our law firm prides itself on carefully reviewing all matters before agreeing to undertake representation. Securities disputes can be complex, both factually and legally. It is very important for both the client and the law firm to know as much about the strengths and weaknesses of a case before a formal legal proceeding is started.

Not surprisingly, brokerage firms are most often represented by large, experienced national law firms. Drew Clayton, who has been practicing law since 1987, worked in the securities industry for several years in the 1980s and has handled hundreds of these types of disputes over many years.

Securities cases are also the subject of lawsuits in state and federal court. Cases of this nature do not typically involve brokerage firms. Instead, they often deal with investment advisors, trust companies, and issuers of securities.

Whether or not a case is filed in arbitration or in court, the most common legal issues relate to violations of state and federal securities laws, fraud, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract. Those legal theories may be triggered by unsuitable investment recommendations, excessive trading, misrepresentations as to the nature of a security, and in rare instances, outright theft.

Drew Clayton is highly experienced in cases of this nature and has been asked to speak on several occasions at national and local meetings of securities lawyers in order to share his experience and insights.

Business Disputes

Business disputes are most often resolved in court if a satisfactory resolution is not achieved before a lawsuit is filed. Common issues include violations of shareholder rights, an unlawful taking of a business opportunity, theft of trade secrets, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty by officers and directors.

Mr. Clayton has litigated such disputes in state and federal court throughout the course of his long career.

Mediation

Since 2001, Drew Clayton has been certified as a Circuit Court Civil Mediator by the Florida Supreme Court. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism that can offer many benefits over expensive and time-consuming litigation. When the parties involved in a dispute decide their own fate through a mediated settlement agreement, they are often more satisfied with the outcome of their case. Mr. Clayton has mediated a variety of business, investment, and other disputes.

Credentials and Experience to Deliver Strategic Success

Our firm currently handles cases on behalf of investors involving millions of dollars in dispute. From time to time, the firm also represents securities industry employees in disputes with their former employers. Mr. Clayton has earned the distinction of “AV” rated lawyer by the esteemed, peer-reviewed Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. Since 2012, Mr. Clayton has been designated as a Florida Super Lawyer, a distinction awarded to less than five percent of the lawyers in Florida as a result of an independent statewide survey of attorneys and research by leading legal and business publisher and data provider, Thomson Reuters.  Through a similar process, Mr. Clayton was also selected by Florida Trend magazine in 2012 and 2013 as one of Florida’s “Legal Elite,” an honor awarded to fewer than 1.5% of the state’s attorneys.  He has been invited to speak several times at annual meetings at the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (“PIABA”), an attorney association that represents investors in their claims against financial institutions and brokerage houses.

Connect with the team now at www.claytonlawyers.com or (941) 366-8100 for more information or for insight into your potential case.