For over 30 years, in 24 states and over 700 proceedings, Mark J. Astarita has been representing all participants in the securities markets.
Since 1984 Mr. Astarita has been assisting brokers and brokerage firms in their registration and compliance matters, including the startup of new broker-dealers. From incorporation through shareholder and employment agreements, and throughout the registration process with the SEC and FINRA, Mr. Astarita has assisted dozens of firms in their navigation of the web of securities rules and regulations. When firms need to expand their operations and require FINRA approval, Mr. Astarita has guided those firms through the 1017 process, working closely with the firm’s in-house staff to obtain the necessary approvals.
As the regulatory environment has become more onerous and complex, Mr. Astarita began encouraging, and assisting, brokers and financial professionals to become independent financial advisers, either through agreements with some of the nation’s top independent brokerage firms, or through the creation of registered investment advisers or private investment partnerships. These alternate vehicles can vastly improve the business operations and overhead of a smaller financial firm, while at the same time maintaining the quality of research, customer service and investor protection of a large broker-dealer.
Regulatory Enforcement Matters
In addition to his work as a securities arbitration attorney, Mr. Astarita represents financial professional in regulatory investigations, from the SEC, FINRA, state securities commissions, and the various commodity exchanges. Mr. Astarita is one of the few practicing attorneys to have passed the Series 7 Examination, the licensing examination for securities brokers. His years of experience in investigations and enforcement proceedings have enabled him to provide invaluable assistance to his clients, not only during the actual proceedings, but in the development of a comprehensive strategy and plan for dealing with actual, and potential, enforcement proceedings.
Securities Employment Issues
During his career, Mr. Astarita has represented over 60 brokerage firms and hundreds of financial professionals in their regulatory, litigation and employment issues. Mr. Astarita’s experience and knowledge of this highly specialized area of employment law enables him to provide guidance and assistance, to firms as well as professionals, in the negotiation of compensation packages and upfront loans, as well as severance agreements, promissory note settlements and restructuring, and non-compete waivers. Mr. Astarita has negotiated broker compensation agreements for individuals with every major Wall Street firm. The use of upfront bonuses, or employee forgivable loans as inducements and compensation for a broker to change firms, has a series of issues, pitfalls and dangers, for the firm, and for the broker. This experience, coupled with a continual monitoring of legal decision and trends enables him to effectively negotiate securities employment agreements for his clients.
Securities Arbitration Proceedings
A significant portion of Mr. Astarita’s practice is in the area of securities arbitration. For over 25 years Mr. Astarita has been the attorney of record, representing customers, brokers and brokerage firms in FINRA, NASD and NYSE arbitrations, in over 600 securities arbitrations. Mr. Astarita prides himself on his dedication to his clients, and his desire to champion their cause and position. He represents clients in matters across the country, and has represented parties in proceedings held in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri, Texas, North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, California, Louisiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, Utah, and Oregon. Mr. Astarita has written extensively on the topic of customer arbitrations, and most of his articles appear at The Securities Law Home Page. His article, Introduction to Securities Arbitration has been downloads tens of thousands of times.
Securities Industry Knowledge
In July, 1995, Mr. Astarita created the The Securities Law Home Page, now known simply as SECLaw.com, the Internet site for information regarding United States securities and commodities law, including corporate finance, public offerings, stock broker regulation, securities arbitration and related topics. The site, which has been rated one of the Top 10 law firm web sites available on the Internet, and consistently rated “Best of the Web” by every major survey, contains original articles and commentary of interest to participants in the United States financial markets, as well as attorneys and educators. The site receives over 10,000 unique visitors a month, making it one of the most popular legal topic sites in the world.
Background and Related Information
Various media sources have relied upon Mr. Astarita for commentary on issues relating to the securities laws and online legal issues, and he has been quoted in a number of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, Forbes Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Law Journal, Ticker Magazine, Research Magazine, Registered Representative, On Wall Street, The Recorder, Legal Times, the New Jersey Star Ledger, the Internet Compliance Reporter, Investment Dealers’ Digest, Compliance Reporter, Financial NetNews, Securities Industry Daily, the Bergen Record and the New York Post.
Mr. Astarita is often an invited speaker at industry functions, has been a regular guest on CNBC’s Power Lunch, was a member of the faculty for the 2002 Practicing Law Institute’s Securities Arbitration Seminar, has been a guest lecturer at Pace University’s Securities Arbitration Clinic, and an invited speaker at the Connecticut Securities Division’s Securities Forum 2005.