I beat the big bad firm in an EFL case

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Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm

I left a firm 27 business days before my four years was up and they went after me for the last fourth of the very poorly described 'bonus'. The day after I left the firm it was bought out.

The acquirer went after me and they went after me hard. The in house attorney for them has an exceptional record in winning these cases. If you facing an EFL arbitration you should review all the cases on the FINRA arbitration awards to get a feel for who you are dealing with. The same should be done when you get your list of arbitrators to rank.

After banging my head agaisnt the wall for months trying to find a capable attorney I finally found one through a referral. One thing most of these threads do not mention is that many of the lawyers who hold themselves out to do this sort of stuff have conflicts of interests with the major firms.  Be very careful what you tell them during the initial conversation.

There is less than a 1% chance you will win your case without one. There is also a 90% chance they know exactly how much you can afford and you will spend all of it....plus some.

despite the rules on discovery, my attorney was able to have the arbitrator reviewing the case rule in favor of me requesting full dislosure of every document, note, mention of my name with the former firm. Everything I wanted.

This is where they caved and offered me a settlement for around 5% of the so called outstanding note

Saving every related e-mail saved me. The firm also had very very poor recordkeeping and had admitted in prior e-mails that this was the case. I learned early on in this business to document everything and this experience has tought me that in these cases... written notes are generally useless.

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you settle, the firm will try to insert some very unfavorable terms in the final agreement. Do not spend all that time and money to later have your rights diminished at the last minute exposing you to some serious risk.

Another thing I find while combing through my thousand of saved e-mails was a mention that the hiring mgr would recieve a bonus if I did x,y,&z and got my bonus. This is a key point to explore if you are thinking of claiming promises were made and not kept. How was the mgr bonused and what compensation did they recieve for hiring you and for you achieving your projections. In my case, it was an e-mail that I should not have been privy to but was cc'd in on that clued me in. Your attorney will tell you that unless you complained from day 1 promises were not kept, don't try it three years later. I had complained and it got me nowhere. These firms will do anything they can to hire you and everything they can to own you....and they do.

The person who hired me was fired weeks after I arrived and the new mgr was a failed ML tyrant who fired or ran out just about everyone in the office and openly bragged about it. It was a tough four years but in the end he was also dismissed. On the advice of my attorney we did not explore this in the case, we completely left it alone. They had also sent me a disc containing a conference call between mgr's discussing how to recruit from the wirehouses. Toxic material if it ever goes public...

they offered me an out if I paid them 5%

I offered them a hundred dollars

we settled for about 250 which was less than half a percent of the supposed outstanding portion.

They paid all the fourm fees and I paid my attorney a fair amount. I will never sign another agreement like the one I did that got me into that mess and four years of h*ll.

hope this helps..good luck.

Mar 21, 2011 2:16 pm

Good stuff Bill!

Mar 21, 2011 1:57 pm

I did not mention names

and I am not bound to confidentiality by the agreement

Bill, thanks for the heads up. I will read it and take into consideration. I have not spoken to you and the mention was not related to you.

and yes, I was saying be very careful about what you tell an attorney before they tell you if there is a conflict of interest.

the bottom line for many of us in this situations is that the firm has the upper hand. They can lie, cheat, and steal to get you to work for them but it means nothing in the case of a promissary note unless you have something very tangible to counter with.

Mar 21, 2011 2:43 pm

good point

not much has changed nor will it. the industry appears to make the rules

my case was the equivalent of robo-signing and it goes on more than you'd think

a good three dozen of my former colleagues lost because they didn't know