Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Choi, Fisch & Pritchard on Attorneys as SRO Securities Arbitrators

Attorneys as Arbitrators, by STEPHEN J. CHOI, New York University - School of Law, JILL E. FISCH, Fordham University - School of Law, ADAM C. PRITCHARD, University of Michigan Law School, was recently posted on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

We study the role of attorneys as arbitrators in securities arbitration, using a dataset of 422 randomly selected arbitrators and their 6724 arbitration awards from 1992 to 2006. We find that arbitrators who also represent brokerage firms or brokers in other arbitrations award significantly less compensation to investor-claimants than other arbitrators. This relation between representing brokerage firms and arbitration awards remains significant even when we control for political outlook. We find no significant effect for attorney-arbitrators who represent investors or both investors and brokerage firms. We report that ideology also correlates significantly with arbitration awards - arbitrators who donate money to Democratic political candidates award greater compensation than arbitrators who donate to Republican candidates.

Because the arbitration award is the product of the panel, not a single arbitrator, we also study the dynamics of panel interaction. We find that the position of chair is an important factor in assessing the arbitrator's influence (although the financial conflicts of other arbitrators may also affect arbitration awards). Coalitions among the other arbitrators are also important. If the chair and another panelist possess a common attribute, the effect on the arbitration award increases.

Finally, we provide evidence that the 1998 NASD reforms to the arbitration process - which introduced party control over the composition of panels - ameliorated, but did not eliminate, the effect that attorneys who represent brokers have on outcomes. We find no significant effect from the NASD's 2004 reforms.

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