Southwestern Student Wins National Securities Law Writing Competition
Fourth-year evening student Art Gharibian won the James E. Beckley Student Writing Competition sponsored by the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA). In addition to the $1000 prize, Gharibian was invited to Jacksonville, Florida for PIABA's annual meeting where he was presented with the award at the President's Dinner. His winning essay will also be published in the PIABA Bar Journal.
His article, "Extending Fiduciary Duties to Broker-Dealers: Yes, We Can and Yes, We Should," explored the impact the proposed uniform fiduciary standard of care for financial professionals (under Section 913 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) would have in the area of securities law. Specifically, Gharibian argued that a uniform fiduciary standard will increase an investor's chances of defeating the Prospectus Defense in Rule 10b-5 cases involving oral misrepresentations.
"As it stands now, investors don't realize that investment advisers and broker-dealers are held to different standards of care," he explained. "Investment advisers are held to a higher standard of care - a fiduciary standard - while broker-dealers in most states are not. This absence of a fiduciary relationship with broker-dealers has left investors vulnerable to securities fraud, which has been one of the factors that led to the financial crisis. The presence of a uniform fiduciary standard, however, will protect investors by requiring broker-dealers to act in the best interests of their customers, and will give investors strong evidence to overcome the Prospectus Defense."
Gharibian is currently serving as a full-time extern at the United States District Court, Central District of California. Last year, he chaired the Moot Court Honors Program, and he spent two years working at Aidikoff, Uhl & Bakhtiari, one of the top plaintiff securities firms in the country, where he had the opportunity to work on high-profile cases.
Once he had some time in his schedule, Gharibian was anxious to write about the area of law in which he has been immersed. "I always wanted to enter a writing competition, but as an evening student, I could never find the time, and last year, with chairing Moot Court, it was impossible to find time to write," Gharibian said. "I also owe this success to Aidikoff, Uhl & Bakhtiari and more specifically, my former boss, Mr. Uhl, who has served as my mentor the past two years. Without him, I would not have won this award."