Ms. Scott has successfully represented clients in numerous securities cases and investigations drawing from her 18 years of experience as a former enforcement attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA, formerly known as the NASD).

Ms. Scott's practice focuses on all aspects of securities regulation and litigation. She represents members in the investment advisory and brokerage industry in private litigation, regulatory investigations and examinations, and regulatory enforcement actions. She has successfully represented numerous brokers and investment advisers in enforcement matters before the SEC, FINRA and state regulatory agencies. She has also successfully represented companies under regulatory scrutiny by the SEC and state regulators. Another aspect of Ms. Scott's practice includes advising companies regarding private placements, drawing from expertise gained while she served as a staff leader at FINRA with regard to private placements and underwritings.

As a former prosecutor and manager with both the FINRA and SEC, Ms. Scott has specialized knowledge of the challenging regulatory environment in which securities professionals must operate. During her 12-year career with NASD, Ms. Scott developed a reputation as a top notch securities litigator and expert in the broker-dealer industry. A Former FINRA Enforcement official stated in her departure announcement, "Without doubt, Sylvia has been one of the finest attorneys and litigators ever in this Enforcement Department. During her 12 years with us, we have come to respect her formidable litigation abilities and to count on those talents in a number of high visibility cases."

Most recently, Ms. Scott won several cases in which FINRA filed enforcement actions against certain financial advisors in which it was variously alleged that the financial advisors had made unsuitable recommendations, misrepresentations, and other alleged misconduct.   These victories are particularly noteworthy as the regulator invariably has the upper-hand in enforcement litigation as they have the benefit of substantial discovery before a complaint is filed, as well as tremendous litigation resources.  

Ms. Scott has also obtained dismissals in multiple FINRA arbitrations wherein certain brokers were falsely accused of variously engaging in inadequate supervision, unsuitable recommendations, trading improprieties, among other things.  Additionally, Ms. Scott has obtained significant monetary awards for claimants in the context of broker dealer employment disputes, as well as other disputes.


Ms. Scott is a frequent speaker at securities conferences, an author of numerous industry articles and is frequently engaged to testify and/or consult as an expert on securities matters.  From 2013 through 2017, she has been named to the Southern California Super Lawyers list, a designation bestowed on only the top 5% of lawyers in this region. 

Representative Clients and Matters


  • Successful defense of a broker-dealer and its brokers involved in private placement offerings for independent film projects involving allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, breach of contract, and violation of California Securities Act for damages exceeding $1.6M.


  • Successful defense of a broker-dealer, principal and financial advisor in a matter that involved allegations of various violations of securities regulations.


  • Successful defense of a hedge fund in a matter that involved allegations of various violations of securities regulations.


  •  The successful defense of a broker-dealer in a matter that involved allegations of failure to supervise.


  • Representation of individual brokers and investment advisers in connection with employment disputes against large wire houses. Obtained multimillion dollar award for certain clients.


  • Representation of university against large financial institution in connection with complex financing transactions resulting in optimal outcome for the university.


Presentations & Publications


  • Author | "Reforms to FINRA's Examination Program are Focused on Fraud Detection: What Does this Mean for Those Who are the Subject of FINRA Inquiry?" | November 2011


  • Author | "With Hedge Funds a Priority of the SEC's Examination Program, Advisers Need to Know How to Avoid Becoming an 'Enforcement Referral'" | September 2011


  • Author | "New and Continuing Developments in the SEC's Examination and Enforcement Programs (With FINRA Following Suit)" | Currents Magazine, an NSCP publication | January 2008


  • Author | "Today's Regulatory and Economic Environment Requires Firms to Take a Closer Look at the Overall Efficacy of Their Compliance Programs (...And It's Good Business)" | Currents Magazine, an NSCP publication | January 2007


  • SIFMA Compliance and Legal Society San Diego Breakfast |Legal and Compliance Hot Topics | October 2016


  • "Financial Advisors Seminar: Safeguard Your Career" | March 2015


  • "Conflicts of Interest from a Risk Management and Ethics Viewpoint" | 2014 NSCP Regional Meeting | February 2014


  •  "Proper Use of Client Assets: Soft Dollars and Hard Money Payments" | 2013 NSCP National Meeting | August 2013


  •  "Broker/Dealer Regulatory Exams" | 2013 NSCP Conference | April 2013


  • "CCO and General Counsel Liability Webinar: How to Protect Yourself and Avoid Risk " | CCO and General Counsel Liability Webinar | November 2012


  • "How to Best Navigate a FINRA Inquiry and the Referral Process between FINRA, the SEC and DOJ" | ABA National Institute of Securities Fraud Conference | November 2011


  • "SEC Inspections and Examination in the Post Dodd Frank Environment" | PLI Hedge Fund Enforcement & Regulatory Developments Conference | November 2011


  • “IAs - Applying the Fundamentals” | National Association of Compliance Professionals Fall National Conference | October 2009


  • "BDs - Supervisory Responsibilities" | National Association of Compliance Professionals | Spring 2009 Regional Conference | April 2009


  • "Enforcement Trends and Recommended Compliance Measures" | FINRA's (District 2) Annual Preventative Compliance Conference Seminars | January 2005


  • "Reg D Fraud" | North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) Mid-Atlantic Zone Meeting | January 2005


 



Sylvia M. Scott