Investor Justice Clinic

The Investor Justice Clinic offers free legal assistance to small investors with limited income in actions involving allegations of wrongdoing by securities firms or their employees.

Investor Justice Clinic

Under the supervision of law professors, lawyers, and financial experts, law students appear in arbitrations and other proceedings before the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA). The clinic is officially recognized by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Founded in 2002 by Professor Robert Talbot, the clinic handles more than a dozen cases each semester. Clients must have a family income of less than $75,000 a year, and their loss must be less than $50,000 although these guidelines are flexible for those who can't find a lawyer.

Students enrolled in the clinic also lead investor education seminars at senior centers in the San Francisco Bay Area. With research showing that baby boomers and older investors are natural targets for a range of fraud practices, the free seminars are designed to raise awareness about techniques used to deceive seniors, so they will be able to recognize the tactics and protect themselves.

The Investor Justice Clinic, as a component of the Entrepreneurial Ventures Legal Service Project, handles basic entity choice, setting up the entity, handling potential securities laws concerns, detailing operating agreements, and transfer of ownership. This clinic can also take on vesting concerns, as well as pre-incorporation and founder agreements.

Client Eligibility Standards 

  • Each request for representation will be considered individually to determine eligibility in terms of household income and amount of claim.
  • The clinic may waive eligibility guidelines if the investor cannot obtain legal representation. Our focus is on resolving a case through negotiation and mediation, but the clinic will also represent investors through arbitration proceedings.
  • Eligible clients are not charged legal fees but will be responsible for mediation or arbitration fees.
  • The clinic handles cases throughout the western United States.

Staff

Professor Robert Talbot, Clinic Founder
Professor Talbot is director of the Investor Justice Clinic, as well as the Internet and Intellectual Property Justice Clinic and the Mediation Clinic. Talbot practiced criminal law privately and as a public defender before teaching law. He has developed training programs for the San Francisco Police Department and San Mateo County Police Academy, and been a consultant to several state agencies, including the State of California Department of Water Resources and the California Tax Franchise Board. He is a legal analyst who has appeared in numerous media outlets, including CNN, CBS, local network affiliates, and Tech TV. He is also a consultant for the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Examiner.

Adjunct Professor Brett Alcala
Adjunct Professor Alcala is an experienced securities attorney and a registered investment advisor. His practice focuses on securities regulation and litigation involving stockbrokers and investment advisors. Formerly, he served as an arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Dealers (now called FINRA). He is a member of the Public Investor Arbitration Bar Association.

Adjunct Professor Leon Borstein
Adjunct Professor Borstein is an attorney specializing in litigation, commercial law, securities, matrimonial law, entertainment law, and Criminal Law. Formerly has served as professor of economics at the University Gabriel Rene Morero, Bolivia, assistant district attorney in Kings County, New York, and chief special prosecutor for a New York City nursing home investigation.

Assistant Clinical Professor, Jessica Fajfar
Assistant Clinical Professor and Supervising Attorney Jessica Fajfar works with several law clinics at USF, including the Internet & IP Justice Clinic, where she supervises the USPTO Trademark Program, the Entrepreneurial Ventures Legal Services (EVLS) Program, and the Employment Law Clinic. She has worked on many trademark prosecution matters with students, including filing initial trademark applications, responding to office actions, and defending and enforcing oppositions. She also has assisted students with settling other intellectual property matters, including trademark, copyright, and domain-name disputes, and with drafting various agreements for start-up companies, including non-disclosure agreements, terms of use, privacy policies, IP licenses/assignments, and other corporate documents. She has assisted with the supervision of students in numerous depositions and in over 15 administrative law hearings.

Jessica is also Of Counsel at a boutique Silicon Valley firm, RafterMarsh, which specializes in handling licensing and IP matters for technology companies and entertainment law. She graduated summa cum laude from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University and received her LLM in Intellectual Property and Technology Law from the University of San Francisco.

Adjunct Professor Elizabeth Falk
Adjunct Professor Falk is president and founder of Falk Financial Analysis, a firm specializing in securities and options account analysis reports for securities arbitration and court cases. Previously, she worked for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and PaineWebber Inc.

Adjunct Professor Robert Muh
Adjunct Professor Muh is co-founder and CEO of Sutter Securities, Inc. Sutter Securities is a full-service investment banking firm headquartered in San Francisco. Formerly, he was senior managing director in charge of the San Francisco region of Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc. He is a former Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University School of Business.

Board of Advisors

  • Brett Alcala
    Attorney, Alcala Law Firm
  • Marvin Breen
    Securities Litigation and Arbitration Consultant
  • Elizabeth Falk
    Financial Expert
  • Shirish Malekar
    Financial Expert
  • Matthew O'Toole
    Attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Charles Stark
    Attorney, Arbitrator, Expert Witness
  • Leon Borstein
    Attorney, Borstein & Sheinbaum
  • David Commins
    Attorney, Commins & Webster
  • Jeffrey Feldman
    Attorney, Jeffrey Feldman Law
  • Robert Muh
    CEO, Sutter's Securities
  • David Ratner
    Attorney and USF School of Law Emeritus Professor