Winemakers aren’t the only regulated industry in this country. Architects, real estate agents, and yes, even lawyers are subject to regulation. Folks who work within the financial industry — investments and securities — are regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Disputes arising within the umbrella of securities — investment disputes or employment — are subject to mandatory arbitration. FINRA arbitrations are held by three neutral arbitrators. To be an arbitrator is a long path — you have to pass a thorough background check to ensure that all arbitrators have high good moral character and no criminal activity. Fellow arbitrators must vote on and approve new arbitrators to join the roster. After a potential arbitrator makes it past that gauntlet, he or she must take hours and hours of training and pass several tests before being eligible.
I was familiar with FINRA from my days at Hinshaw. I represented several clients who worked within the industry and were subjects of arbitration claims. I also represented a company through an employment dispute. I think highly of arbitration and the transparency FINRA offers parties.
I am proud to tell you that I have gone through that gauntlet — I have had my background searched and taken the tests and been approved for service!
This does not supplant my service to the wine industry — it enriches it. A Parsi legend recounts how I feel: when the Parsis arrived at the western coast of India in the 9th century, they promised the Gujarati king that they would sweeten the community, not displace it, “as sugar sweetens milk.”