Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society

Securities Arbitration Clinics: Commemorating 25 Years of Law Students Aiding Investors

Two students sitting at a desk.
Georgia State University College of Law students man registration table at Investor Town Hall at the SEC's Atlanta Regional Office


Yes, this was in March 1997… And the person who called me was Ron Long. At that time, he was an attorney in the office of the SEC chair, Arthur Levitt. And he called me up. I’d never met him before, never talked to him, but he said that Chairman Levitt was very interested in law schools setting up securities arbitration clinics. And as he explained it to me, he said that Chair Levitt had done a number of town halls throughout the country, talking to investors about what their issues were. And what he heard from them was that they had difficulty arbitrating their disputes because they were having difficulty in getting legal representation, particularly small investors. And therefore, that obviously influenced their view of securities arbitration, and their view of the fairness of it. So Chair Levitt thought, “All right, we got law schools there. This would be a good situation, a good opportunity for law schools to get involved” and establish clinics.

- Professor Barbara Black, June 7, 2022 Oral History

In the fall of 1997, a number of law schools across the nation began heeding the call of then-SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt to launch, for the first time ever, clinics, staffed primarily by law students, dedicated to providing free legal services to investors of modest means who seek remedies for investment harm.

The clinics serve a dual purpose by providing both a means of recourse for investors who otherwise would not be able to afford it, and in giving securities law students valuable practical experience at an important time in their legal education.

This exhibit commemorates this groundbreaking launch with an in-depth examination of the clinics through several lenses:

  • an oral history of Professor Barbara Black, founder of one of the first such clinic at Pace University and the research paper documenting her journey’s successes and challenges;
  • a virtual program featuring securities clinic leaders and participating law students who discussed the history and future of securities arbitration clinics at law schools and what they have meant to investors and students;
  • participating law students’ testimonials and photos; and
  • papers, letters, and other documents pertaining to history of the arbitration clinics.


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