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FINRA Arbitration Head Fienberg to Step Down

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Linda Fienberg, head of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s arbitration unit, plans to leave the self-regulator at the end of November.

Fienberg, president of FINRA Dispute Resolution and chief hearing officer, joined FINRA (then the National Association of Securities Dealers) in June 1996 and has responsibility for FINRA’s dispute resolution and disciplinary hearing programs.

“We have been fortunate to have Linda with us for the last 18 years,” said FINRA Chairman and CEO Richard Ketchum, in a statement. “Linda leaves us with a lasting legacy of excellence, and she has my sincerest appreciation for her years of service, dedication and leadership.”

The statement did not name a successor for Fienberg.

FINRA announced in mid-July that it had formed a 13-member Arbitration Task Force to consider possible enhancements to its securities arbitration forum to improve its transparency, impartiality and efficiency. Fienberg told ThinkAdvisor at the time that the task force would conduct its first meeting in late September or early October, and that the 13 members would “set their own agenda.”

The task force will issue a set of recommendations after a full year of review — which Fienberg said will start when they commence their first meeting — to the National Arbitration and Mediation Committee (NAMC), FINRA’s Standing Board Advisory Committee. Ketchum said the task force would not be permanent.

Fienberg shepherded a number of rule changes that instituted more investor-friendly policies and procedures in FINRA’s dispute resolution forum, including the 2011 rule change that gives all investors who file arbitration claims the option of choosing an all-public panel.

Fienberg was also tasked with building a new Office of Hearing Officers (OHO), including creating a new Code of Procedure (which governs FINRA’s disciplinary process, hiring professional hearing officers and an administrative staff, and establishing OHO’s policies and procedures.

Prior to joining FINRA, Fienberg was a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Covington & Burling. From 1979 to 1990, she was on the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission, where she held several senior staff positions.

Fienberg received a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she was an editor of the Georgetown Law Journal; a master of arts in teaching from Wesleyan University (Armstrong Award for number one in the class); and a bachelor’s degree with distinction (Phi Beta Kappa) from Cornell University.

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