MLCL Principal Hugh Berkson Concludes Successful Term as PIABA President; Will Continue as Member of Board of Directors November 1, 2016

By Jay H. Salamon

Hugh Berkson, a Principal with the law firm of McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co. LPA and a member of the firm’s Investor Advocacy team, has just concluded his one-year term as President of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (“PIABA”). PIABA is national bar association dedicated to protecting investors’ rights.

Hugh’s term was marked by some milestone successes. He took office in October 2015 promising to tackle the hardship created when uninsured and insolvent brokerage firms go out of business without paying damage awards obtained by their customers in arbitration proceedings. In late February 2016, PIABA issued Hugh’s report, titled “Unpaid Arbitration Awards – A Problem the Industry Created – A Problem the Industry Must Fix.”  The report, which concluded with the suggestion of a national investor recovery pool to be funded by the securities industry, was praised by Securities Arbitration Commentator as “well-written and heavily researched.” A week after the report’s release, Senator Elizabeth Warren referred to it in her questioning of Robert Ketchum, outgoing Chairman and CEO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”).  Mr. Ketchum concurred that the problem of unpaid awards needed greater attention and expressed FINRA’s agreement with Hugh’s suggestion that a national investor recovery pool could provide an answer.

Hugh’s attention to investor rights issues was not limited to the problem of unpaid awards.  In the final week of Hugh’s presidency, PIABA released a report he co-authored titled “BrokerCheck – the Inequality of Investor Access to Information Remains Unabated – An Update to PIABA’s March 2014 Report.” During the course of the past year, Hugh also sent to state and federal regulators nearly a score of comment letters concerning a host of issues important to the investing public.

While Hugh’s term as PIABA’s president has ended, his commitment to the Association will continue unabated.  Hugh remains a member of PIABA’s Board of Directors and will serve on the Board’s executive committee.  He also will be serving as a co-chair of the Membership Committee, as well as chair of two special task committees – one addressing unpaid awards and one addressing FINRA arbitration abuses.

However, Hugh’s most important job continues to be providing legal representation and obtaining compensation for investors victimized by the incompetence or intentional misconduct of financial advisers. He can be reached at 216-696-1422 or contacted toll-free at 866-932-1295. He also can be reached by email at hdb@mccarthylebit.com.

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