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Hiring a Securities Lawyer / Securities Law Firm

Securities laws govern one of the most highly regulated and complex areas of commerce in the United States.  They are a unique set of laws, rules, and regulations that exist on both a federal and state level.  Due to the complexity of such laws, individuals and entities contemplating business endeavors that will be subject to such laws are well advised to hire a lawyer whose practice is focused on securities and corporate law.  Securities lawyers advise clients regarding various areas of securities law, including compliance with these complex laws, how to structure transactions to avoid liability under state and federal securities laws, and how to respond to regulatory inquiries from agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”).  The two principal bodies of federal law that most entities will be subject to are the Securities Act of 1933 (the “1933 Act”) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “1934 Act”).  A brief overview of these securities laws is set forth below.

Entities that are considering raising capital for their businesses by offering securities on either a private or public basis will be subject to the registration provisions of the 1933 Act on a federal level and the various states securities laws known as “Blue Sky Laws”.  Entities will either register securities that they propose to sell to the public, or they will structure their offering to comply with various transaction exemptions from registration available under state and federal law.  All sales of securities are subject to state and federal anti-fraud laws.  Prospective issuers of securities should inquire about types of securities offerings in which their prospective counsel has participated and obtain a definitive agreement regarding the cost of services to be rendered in the offering.

The Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 regulates, among other things, the secondary sales of securities by individuals and entities and requires the filing of periodic reports with the SEC by companies whose securities are publicly traded.  The 1934 Act also regulates the sales of securities by corporate insiders of public companies and certain shareholders who hold at least 10% of the issued and outstanding securities of such public companies.  Public companies often enlist the assistance of securities lawyers to assist with the preparation and review of disclosures made by such companies in their public filings with the SEC.

In making the determination of whom to engage as securities counsel, there are several criteria to consider.  For companies seeking to raise capital, management should be considering experienced attorneys who are skilled in drafting and filing registration statements with the SEC or who have prepared private placement memoranda and assisted clients with complying with the various states’ Blue Sky laws.  These attorneys are typically also skilled in and have experience with corporate governance matters involving the interpretation and application of various states’ corporate laws.  The experience of counsel in assisting clients with their reporting requirements after they become a fully reporting public company is an additional consideration.  Securities counsel who also perform EDGAR filings with the SEC for their clients have an additional skill set that allows public company clients to avoid hiring a separate EDGAR filing agency to make their filings with the SEC.  For persons or entities who are involved in securities litigation, they will be seeking counsel with experience in state and federal court, as well as the arbitration forums of the securities industry.  The experience of counsel is typically obtained in a few ways, including having been employed by the SEC or as in-house or external counsel for a securities broker-dealer or having been mentored by an attorney with experience in either of these former employment scenarios.