A Denver-based law firm appears to have made a cottage industry out of clearing broker records — and its founder is in no way apologetic about being the leader in a field some critics say could harm investors, according to news reports.
Dochtor Kennedy, 39, founded AdvisorLaw in 2016, and the firm now handles the bulk of broker expungements, InvestmentNews writes. Kennedy tells the publication he and the firm’s three dozen lawyers handle “between a third and half of all the expungement cases” — but last year, it was more than three out of five.
Through Dec. 6, 2018, AdvisorLaw handled 252 of the 403 such requests to Finra, InvestmentNews writes. The firm with the next biggest number of expungement cases handled only 26 requests, in contrast, according to the publication. AdvisorLaw’s website also claims an 89% rate of success, InvestmentNews writes.
Yet some take issue with what this means for investor protection.
“They have cleaned up hundreds of complaints from brokers’ records, and some of those brokers are bad guys,” Andrew Stoltmann, former president of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association, tells the publication.
But Kennedy says AdvisorLaw’s success rate is due to tight adherence to expungement-qualification criteria, which require a claim to be either false or impossible or for the representative to not have been involved in the alleged infraction, InvestmentNews writes. Furthermore, AdvisorLaw doesn’t take just any case, he tells the publication.
“[I]n our due diligence, if we see something that puts the viability of the case at risk we will give you your money back, and tell you to go find another lawyer,” Kennedy tells InvestmentNews. So AdvisorLaw doesn’t take on cases where the representative had admitted guilt — even if only through an apology letter — or was found guilty, he tells the publication.
Kennedy’s law firm has plenty of potential clients, meanwhile: he estimates around 10% of the industry’s 600,000 brokers have a disclosure on their record, he tells InvestmentNews.
“Everybody is always taking aim at us because nobody advocates for the individual brokers,” he tells the publication. “The bottom line is, we’re not going away.”
By Alex Padalka