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Does hiring a lawyer make me look guilty in a regulatory investigation?

Posted by Joel Beck | Aug 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

As we discussed last time, some financial advisors make the mistake of not having an attorney when facing a regulatory investigation. Often, they worry that hiring a lawyer will look bad to the regulators. Doesn't it make me look guilty, they ask?

No. It does not.

If you choose not to hire legal counsel, you will be the only party involved without an attorney. The regulatory body investigating you, be it FINRA, the SEC, the CFP® Board, or some other organization, will have a team of lawyers involved in your case. Lawyers are very much a part of the process, and make no mistake—the regulators will have them in their corner.

Who will be in your corner?

Hiring an attorney does not make you look guilty—it makes you look prepared. It shows that you are taking the matter seriously and value your career and reputation enough to seek counsel. Even if you are innocent, a lawyer will be of great help to you during an investigation. You may not fully understand what to do—and perhaps more importantly what not to do—to protect yourself and pursue a favorable outcome. An experienced attorney will know more about the investigation process than you and can help you by…

  • Keeping you from making tactical errors including saying too much and unintentionally expanding the scope of the investigation.
  • Focusing on the right things. Your lawyer is not nearly as emotionally attached to the matter as you, and can focus on the legal issues that the regulators will focus on, not the emotional aspects that might blind you.
  • Giving you counsel to understand the process, getting you ready for it, and guiding you along the way to make informed decisions.

Again, having a lawyer does not make you look guilty in the eyes of the regulators. It does inform them that you are not going to roll over and be an easy target for them nor will you be a person who can be taken advantage of in an investigation or enforcement proceeding.

Remember, the regulatory agencies have cadres of lawyers working on their cases. They understand the importance of legal counsel in these matters. It's up to you to decide if you will go it alone or have experienced counsel in your corner. 

If you're ready to hire an attorney for your regulatory investigation, call The Beck Law Firm at (678) 344-5342. We'll discuss your case and determine if we would be a good fit for you and your matter.

Financial advisors facing an investigation are also invited to request a free copy of Joel Beck's book The Financial Advisor's Guide to Regulatory Investigations. For those simply seeking more information on regulatory investigations, the book is also available for purchase on

About the Author

Joel Beck

Joel Beck founded The Beck Law Firm, LLC in 2007. His firm focused on business law and estate planning needs of clients, two areas that he was drawn to based upon personal and business experiences in his life, including a ten-year career at NASD (now known as FINRA).


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