AdvisorHub (April 29, 2020) - PIABA, the trade association founded 30 years ago by lawyers representing investors in securities arbitrations against firms and brokers, is taking “arbitration” out of its name. The approximately 400 members of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association voted earlier this month to reincorporate as the Public Investors Advocate Bar Association. It is hoping to attract a wider range of class-action and other attorneys who operate in courts and other legal forums outside of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration arena.

“We have absolutely spread our wings,” said Samuel B. Edwards, a Houston-based lawyer who is president of the Norman, Okla-based nonprofit business organization. “We wanted to widen the base of both our members and our reach into people we are advocating for.”

PIABA was organized in 1990 to help plaintiffs’ securities lawyers network and to negotiate arbitration policies and processes with the regulatory arms of the NASD and New York Stock Exchange. (The groups merged in 2007 to become Finra.)

PIABA’s name change reflects its broader mission of working on investor-protection issues, Edwards said.

Members meet regularly with legislators on issues such as eliminating pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements in account contracts, he said. PIABA, which has a paid staff, also has sponsored reports to expose purported flaws in policies such as Finra’s expungement process for removing customer complaints from brokers’ records.

The trade group membership includes a smattering of lawyers who work on securities class-action cases, which are not permitted in Finra arbitration.

“We would like for more of the class-action bar to become involved with PIABA as our interests ally very closely with theirs,” Edwards said. “We believe that it is a good place for us all to collaborate on how we can best help public investors.”

The group has filed paperwork on the name change with Texas, where it is incorporated, and expects official approval for the new moniker within a few days, Edwards said on Tuesday.