After receiving a rule 8210 letter from FINRA your next step should be finding a lawyer that can represent you in the investigation. Your firm may offer their attorney to represent you so that you do not need to get one yourself. This may sound like a good deal but there are a few things you should consider before deciding to use their lawyer.
1: Is there any type of conflict between you and the firm on how you would like to handle your defense?
Remember that the firm's lawyer always represents the firm and has their best interest in mind when defending you as well. So, you want to make sure that if you choose to use their lawyer that there are no conflicts of interest on how you would like to be defended.
2: Are you and the firm on the same page about every case detail that may matter?
If there is any type of conflict or dispute between certain details that could help with your defense, this may cause a conflict of interest between you and your firm. What this means is that your firm's lawyer would then not be able to represent you, your firm, and your supervisor, if you view the facts as materially different than how your firm and manager see them. We advise that if you are going to use your firm's lawyer that you discuss certain details of your case so that you know if you need to find your own lawyer or not.
3: Is there a difference in opinion between you and the firm on how to respond and defend yourself?
This could be a problem for you and may cause issues with your defense during your investigation. This goes back to making sure there is no conflict of interest by having a discussion with your firm about how you would like to be defended as well as certain details of your defense. Having this discussion early can help you decide if you need your own lawyer or not.
4: Do you want your firm to know everything that you share with your lawyer?
In a joint defense situation where the firm's lawyer represents you and the firm, if you were to decide to go with your firm's lawyer, any details discussed for your defense will likely be shared with your firm. If there are important details that you must discuss that you do not want your firm to know, then it would be wise to find your own lawyer to defend you since they are required to keep your information confidential. Be careful about what you agree to if you are asked to sign any type of joint defense agreement or joint representation letter and understand the terms of such agreement.
If there are no difference in opinions, conflicts, or confusion on certain details, then you could ideally consider your firm's lawyer. And, it may make sense in several situations. On the other hand, if you were to hire your own counsel, you'll know that you are getting guidance aimed at what is in your best interest. By getting your own lawyer to defend you, you will have full confidentiality and be able to discuss details with your lawyer that you may not otherwise be able to with your firm's lawyer.
Keep in mind that even if you get your own lawyer, you will still need to cooperate with your firm and keep them informed about any new developments with the regulators, especially regarding any documents that you may need to share with them, for so long as you remain employed or registered with that firm.
Deciding on which lawyer you should use to defend yourself during a FINRA investigation is not a decision that should be taken lightly. You might want to speak with a lawyer or two about your situation so that you can make a smart and informed decision.
If we can be of any help, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at (678) 344-5342
If you are dealing with a Rule 8210 letter from FINRA, request our FREE book, The Financial Advisor's Guide To Regulatory Investigations, here, or pick up a copy on Amazon.
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