Securities Attorney Nico Banks
I first worked for Banks Law Office while I was in high school in 2013. I did not know much about the law back then, but I did what I could to help individual victims of broker misconduct take on corporate perpetrators. It was righteous work, and I loved it immediately.
I left Banks Law Office to attend Claremont McKenna College, where I graduated in the top 15 percent of my class. I then also graduated from Cornell Law School in the top 15 percent of my class. After finishing school, I worked as an associate attorney in the antitrust practice group of Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton, which is widely considered the top antitrust practice group in the country. I missed representing investors, so I next worked as an attorney at a small investor-representation law firm called the Kurta Law Firm.
In September of 2023, I returned to Banks Law Office, where I continue to represent individual investors by suing brokerage firms that recommended failed investments to them. Many of my clients lost money in alternative investments such as non-traded real estate investment trusts, oil-and-gas partnerships, structured products, and private placements, which are often unsuitable investments.
People who have lost money in unsuitable investments can often sue their brokerage firms because those firms are responsible for conducting due diligence on non-traded investments before approving them for sale to individual investors. Therefore, if a brokerage firm misses warning signs that an investment is likely to fail, it may be liable to investors.
Notably, I often recommend not suing the individual broker who recommended the investment to my client. An individual broker does not recommend investments to his or her clients until a large brokerage firm he or she is affiliated with does due diligence and approves the investment for sale. Because the individual broker is not involved in the due diligence process, he or she is not legally responsible for the large firm’s due diligence failures.
In some situations, however, I may recommend that my client sue the individual broker in addition to suing the brokerage firm. For example, if an individual broker told a client that a non-traded real estate investment trust is a low-risk investment, then the client may be able to sue the broker for fraud because the broker made a false statement.
I also represent individual investors whose brokers lied to them about their investment accounts, churned their accounts (i.e., illegally earned very high commissions by buying and selling investments in their clients’ accounts very often), or committed some other sort of misconduct.
Like most attorneys who represent investors, I charge “contingency fees.” This means that my clients never pay me unless I recover money for them. Even then, my clients do not pay me anything out of pocket. I just keep a percentage of the amount I recover as my fee.
I aim to recover the most money possible for my clients while charging the lowest possible contingency fee. The following strategies help me accomplish that goal:
- Aggressive litigation strategy. Many attorneys that represent investors are willing to settle cases for a small fraction of their clients’ losses in order to avoid the hassle of trials. Although it reduces the firms’ costs in the short term, that trial-avoidance strategy is costly in the long term because brokerage firms learn that they can settle cases with these attorneys for small dollars. By contrast, I advise clients to decline low-ball settlement offers and proceed to trial if necessary. My aggressive strategy increases my revenue, and I pass that benefit onto my clients in the form of lower contingency fees. Of course, the strategy also benefits my clients by increasing their total recovery.
- I submit clients’ cases as groups, which reduces my costs. Because of my focus on cases related to non-traded investments, many of my clients are in very similar circumstances. As a result, I can group many of my clients’ cases together in a single proceeding. This grouping process reduces my costs, and I pass that benefit to my clients in the form of lower fees.
- I take advantage of helpful software and automation. While software is no substitute for careful lawyering, it is a helpful tool that can decrease the amount of time attorneys and their clients need to spend on a case. For example, I use state-of-the-art client relationship management (“CRM”) software to make it easy for my clients to communicate with me and send me documents. The software saves me time, and I pass the benefit on to clients in the form of lower fees.
- Public-interest and pro-bono lawyering. I am focused on helping my clients, not just maximizing my profits, so I sincerely aim to charge my clients the lowest fee possible rather than the highest fee possible. I also try to give back by offering pro bono services to low-income individuals.
Hoffman, Bruce and Banks, N., “High Court Blow to FTC Restitution Could Be Temporary,” Law 360, April 2021
Banks, N., “Competition policy during pandemics: how to urgently produce healthcare goods and services while avoiding economic disaster,” Journal of Antitrust Enforcement, May 2021.
- Public Investor Advocate Bar Association ("PIABA")
Member Since: 2022 - current
Co-Chair of the PIABA Diversity Committee
- California - Membership No. 344705
Member Since: 2022 - current
- Washington, D.C. - Membership No. 1734563
Member Since: 2021 - current
- Cornell Law School - J.D. - 2020
Graduated in the top 15 percent of the class of 2020
- Claremont McKenna College - B.A. in Economics and M.A. in Finance - 2017
Graduated in the top 15 percent of the class of 2017.