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April 12, 2018
A deluge of lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act is sweeping through the courts. The litigation, which began almost two decades ago but has been picking up steam in recent years, is predicated on the theory that business websites are places of public accommodation under the ADA and thus must be accessible to individuals with visual or hearing impairments. Absent DOJ or Congressional guidance as to how the ADA is to be interpreted in the digital age, the risk of such claims under the ADA is higher than ever. Click here for our Bulletin addressing this fast-unfolding issue.
April 10, 2018
Back in May of 2015, we posted a Bulletin in this space regarding the DOL’s then-proposed Fiduciary Rule for investment advisors. In April 2016, DOL promulgated the Rule to much fanfare. Not so fast, guys. In this Bulletin we discuss the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision vacating the DOL Fiduciary Rule. Stay tuned to this space for subsequent judicial proclamations about the Rule.
February 9, 2018
On behalf of the firm, John Stewart recently filed a comment with FINRA with respect to its pending proposal to amend its expungement rules (Regulatory Notice 17-42). While based on the premise that there is a perceived need for increased customer participation in the expungement process, in our view, Regulatory Notice 17-42 reflects FINRA’s ongoing efforts to effectively further limit a financial adviser’s access to the process. If approved, we believe a consequence will be decreased access and result in a legacy of potentially prejudicial, false misleading and inaccurate reporting.
Baritz & Colman LLP, due to writing title for almost $500,000,000 in transactions, was recognized by First American Title Insurance Company as one of the "Top Five" agents in Palm Beach County for 2016.
July 17, 2017
We are pleased to announce Ned R. Nashban has joined Baritz & Colman LLP as a Partner in the firm's Florida office. Ned concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, business law, bankruptcy or creditor's rights and problem loan workouts, for more than four decades. Prior to joining the firm, Ned was a partner at Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro LLP and is actively involved as a member of State of Israel Bonds' Board of Directors. He is a member of the Florida and Wisconsin Bar Associations.
August 5th, 2016
We are pleased to announce Andrew Thomson has joined Baritz & Colman LLP as Senior Counsel in the firm's Boca Raton office. Andrew concentrates his practice in business litigation, including securities litigiation and governmental investigations. Prior to joining the firm, Andrew was an Associate at Proskauer Rose LLP. Andrew is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology and earned his Juris Doctor from University of Miami School of Law. He is a member of The Florida Bar.
January 12, 2016
We are pleased to announce Lauren Galvani has joined Baritz & Colman LLP as a Senior Associate in the firm's Boca Raton office. Lauren concentrates her practice in the areas of estate planning, estate and trust administration, public charities and private foundations, business succession planning and wealth preservation for high net worth individuals and families.
Prior to joining the firm, Lauren was a senior associate at a boutique estate planning practice serving high net worth individuals. Lauren is a graduate of Boston College and earned her Juris Doctor and her LLM (Masters in Taxation) from the University of Miami School of Law. She is licensed to practice in Florida and Massachusetts.
November 4th, 2015
Aaron Taishoff wrote an article that was published in the October 2015 edition of the New Jersey Labor and Employment Law Quarterly. The article focused on the recent decision in Khazin v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., 773 F.3d 488 (3d Cir. 2014), in which the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the Dodd-Frank Act's whistleblower retaliation protection provisions do not prohibit the enforcement of employment agreements containing pre-dispute arbitration clauses. Baritz & Colman LLP represents the defendants in this case. Click here to read the article.
October 7, 2015
We are pleased to congratulate Aaron Taishoff for being named to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list for the second straight year! Each year, less than 3 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are the result of a process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area.
For more information, please click here.
September 28, 2015
We are pleased to announce Heather Cooper has joined Baritz & Colman LLP as an Associate in the firm's Boca Raton office. Heather concentrates her practice in the areas of securities arbitration, commercial and real estate transactions, and corporate matters.
Prior to joining the firm, Heather worked as a law clerk at Florida's Office of Financial Regulation. Heather is a graduate of the University of Florida and earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Florida Levin College Of Law.
September 1, 2015
We are pleased to announce that John Stewart has joined Baritz & Colman LLP as an Associate in the firm's New York office. John concentrates his practice in the areas of corporate, real estate and employment litigation and arbitration.
Prior to joining the firm, John was a Captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps, and prior to his military service, John was an Associate at a prominent large law firm in Manhattan. John is a graduate of Tufts University and earned his Juris Doctor from the Fordham Law School.
May 15, 2015
Recently, New York Partner David S. Richan was quoted at length in the Wall Street Journal as an authority on disputes between financial advisors and their employers. Click to read article here.
posted by Baritz & Colman LLP at 1:44
May 7, 2015
On April 23, 2015, Neil Baritz was an invited speaker at the Financial Markets Association 2015 Securities Compliance Seminar in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The topic was Establishing Effective Policies, Procedures and Best Practices for Dealing with Elderly Clients. The panel was moderated by William Reilly, Associate Director of Oyster Consulting. Mr. Baritz was joined on the panel by Joseph Borg, Director of the Alabama Securities Commission and Ronald Long, Director of Elder Client Initiatives and Regulatory Affairs at Wells Fargo Advisors.
posted by Baritz & Colman LLP at 1:35 PM
May 3, 2015
The United States Department of Labor recently issued its version of a proposed fiduciary rule. The proposed rule, and the political history leading to its release, is discussed in the attached bulletin. While the SEC is "still working" on their own version of a fiduciary rule, the DOL jumped ahead in the looming political battle, basing its proposed rule on the premise that conflict-laden commission based advice is costing retirement account holders up to $17 billion per year. The problem with DOL's proposal, we posit, is that while it may ultimately have merit, the rule proposal fails to address, among other things, how existing rules and regulations have failed, or identify actual victims of non-fiduciary based investment advice. Click here for our bulletin.
posted by Baritz & Colman LLP at 5:34 PM
"While legislation obviously is political, we now have allowed regulation to become politicized, which we believe will likely lead to some bad outcomes." -Jamie Dimon
In the almost five years since Dodd-Frank was enacted, a multitude of constituencies have sounded off on the pros and cons of a uniform fiduciary standard for the entirety of the financial services community, including broker-dealers, investment advisers, and life insurance agents. The latest to throw its hat in the ring is the Department of Labor, seemingly holding the view that retirement account holders are somehow being victimized by a theoretical conflict inherent in commission-based financial advice. The fact that the DOL has the White House as its partner, evidenced by a leaked “memo” authored by President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, leaves a stench of executive fiat and bespeaks another example of politically motivated regulation in search of a problem.
In the words of SEC Commissioner Daniel Gallagher, the "White House memo is thinly-veiled propaganda designed to generate support for a widely unpopular rulemaking." We agree. More to the point, if the process were to have any intellectual integrity, the White House, DOL's proposal and the CEA memo should each have lead with an empirical evaluation of how the current mountain of rules and regulations to which the financial advisory and broker-dealer communities are now subject, are failing the investing public. Moreover, one would hope for an impact study of how those affected by dueling and often inconsistent regulatory regimes (including the SEC, FINRA and the DOL, among others) would be expected to comport themselves.
The DOL, on its website, champions its own cause with the following Q and A:
- Q: But what evidence do you have that a financial adviser's conflicts of interest harm savers?
- A. Based on extensive review of independent research, the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) has concluded that conflicted advice causes affected savers to earn returns that are roughly 1 percentage point lower each year (for example, a 5 percent return absent conflicts would become a 6 percent return). As a result, a retiree who receives conflicted advice when rolling over a 401(k) balance to an IRA at retirement will lose an estimated 12 percent of the value of his or her savings if drawn down over 30 years. If a retiree receiving conflicted advice takes withdrawals at the rate possible absent conflicted advice, his or her savings would run out more than 5 years earlier. Since conflicted advice affects an estimated $1.7 trillion of IRA assets, the aggregate annual cost of conflicted advice is about $17 billion each year.
And what is the basis for the CEA's conclusion? Sounds very much like the cart before the horse. Last we checked, a conflict does not by definition translate into wrongdoing, much less actual losses.
If we are to have an honest and open and, dare we say, apolitical debate on the subject of a uniform fiduciary standard, should we not first accept or reject the current regulatory constructs? Should we not be intellectually honest with ourselves and first conclude that existing rules and regulations have failed to protect the investing public? Evidently not. In a speech at AARP in Washington this past week, President Obama had already determined that "we don't have the rules and regulations to protect those who we're supposed to be serving."
The CEA memo concludes that current phantom consumer protections cost IRA investors up to $17 billion a year in excessive fees. One would think that such a bold conclusion would be supported by empirical study and a thorough evaluation of the relative performance of the so-called evil commission and conflict laden investment advice behind these alleged "excessive fees." We keep looking for an analysis of how the current rules, principal among them, FINRA's Rule 2111, which requires a broker to make a suitability evaluation for every investment recommendation, have been determined to fall short. That is, where are the victims? Where are the legions of so-called bad-actors being pursued by regulators for their supposed sins?
Meanwhile, back at the SEC ranch, Chairwoman Mary Jo White continues to report that her staff is studying the issue. For what it's worth, it's clear that the White House and DOL just upped the proverbial regulatory ante. We continue to look for phantom victims amongst the vast investing public, much as we look for consensus among the affected parties – but it is likely not to matter. While investment advisors and broker-dealers have been regulated under different standards of care for over 70 plus years now, we suspect that the result of the battle will be conformity, to one degree or another. We neither oppose conformity nor a level playing field; we just wish the process had some integrity.
For more information, please contact us.
February 8, 2015
On January 30, 2015, Neil Baritz was an invited presenter at TD Ameritrade Institutional's National LINC Conference in San Diego. In a post Dodd-Frank regulatory environment, Neil gave a presentation to an audience of registered investment advisers in which he made the case for a new self-regulatory body, separate and apart from FINRA, designed solely for the advisory community.
posted by Baritz & Colman LLP at 4:26 PM
October 2, 2014
We are pleased to announce that Baritz & Colman Associate Aaron Taishoff has been selected to the 2014 New York State Metro Rising Stars list. Each year, less than 3 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are the result of a process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area.
For more information, please click here.
posted by Baritz & Colman LLP at 6:29 PM
September 26, 2014
We are pleased to announce that Theodore L. Blumberg has become Of Counsel to the firm. Ted is an attorney specializing in entertainment law and litigation, commercial litigation, employment law, and criminal defense. His book, The Seven Deadly Sins of Legal Writing, the genesis for which was legal writing seminars he taught with his colleague and mentor, Herald Price Fahringer, Esq., is now used in law schools throughout the United States. Ted is an alumnus of the Temple University School of Law and the Bronx District Attorney's Office.
posted by Baritz & Colman LLP at 4:34 PM
May 16, 2014
On May 9, 2014, Neil Baritz gave a presentation in San Antonio, Texas to over 350 financial advisors at NEXT Financial Group's National Education Conference on the subject of best practices in detecting and preventing elder abuse in the financial services arena. Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation.
posted by Baritz & Colman LLP at 11:45 AM
March 21, 2014
Nancy Colman recently completed two multi-million dollar commercial securitized refinance transactions. Both transactions involved complicated defeasances (substitution of real estate collateral for securities).
She also completed a challenging restructuring of a professional client's assets through a series of Delaware limited liability companies in order to provide sufficient asset protection as well as estate planning benefits for the client.
posted by Baritz & Colman LLP at 3:58 PM
March 21, 2014
We are pleased to announce that Dennis Spates has become Of Counsel to the firm. Dennis is a transactional attorney with 30 plus years of corporate and securities law experience. In addition to representing clients in connection with their corporate formation and general business needs, Dennis represents issuers of equity and debt securities in connection with public and private offerings as well as on-going public reporting compliance. He has served as both in-house and outside corporate counsel to a number of companies and has developed a strong practical approach to business transactions and related legal issues. Dennis earned a J.D. from Fordham University Law School and an A.B. from Princeton University.
posted by Baritz & Colman LLP at 3:28 PM
March 4, 2014
We are pleased to announce that L. Matthew Levy has joined the firm as an Associate in the firm's New York office. Matt is a member of the New York State Bar. His primary concentration is in the areas of commercial litigation, real estate transactions and general corporate matters. Matt is a graduate of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and earned his Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School.
posted by Baritz & Colman LLP at 1:42 PM