With all things, you must know your audience. Your audience will determine what you present and how you present it. This is true for everything from bedtime stories to theatrical performances. It is also true for your Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration. When you try a bench trial, you likely have little or no control over who the trier of fact will be, but even then you are as prepared as you can be: You research your judge with the hope of determining how to address issues in your case that may concern your judge. When you try a jury trial, you have somewhat more control over who your audience will be with peremptory challenges and challenges for cause, and you take full advantage of that limited ability to decide who will be your client’s “peers.” An arbitration is like a combination of a bench trial and a jury trial. The trier of fact will also decide the law, but you have some influence over who will be sitting in the most important three seats in the room. So take full advantage of your ability to choose those individuals and do your homework.
This article seeks to familiarize you with the FINRA arbitrator selection process and to give you practical strategies for vetting your arbitration panel.