Joseph S. Simms

Cleveland, Ohio
216-539-9370 (Office)
216-453-2308 (Direct)
216-798-2052 (Cell)

With two decades of legal experience, Joe focuses his practice on complex business disputes, commercial litigation, and alternative dispute resolution. He represents public and private companies and individuals in the financial services, banking, brokerage, insurance, real estate, manufacturing, and construction industries in a wide array of cases involving breach of contract and fraud claims, issues relating to claims of unfair competition and trade secrets violations, and general tort litigation. His primary focus is complex securities litigation and arbitration, financial institution litigation, regulatory investigations and inquiries, and broker-dealer liability defense, in which he represents brokers, broker-dealers, investment advisors, banks, and insurance companies in claims involving allegations of professional misconduct.

An accomplished litigator and counselor, Joe has been named to the Ohio Super Lawyers list, a designation reserved for only 5% of Ohio lawyers, and has achieved Martindale-Hubbell's® highest ranking, AV Preeminent®. According to feedback obtained during the rating process, Joe was described as an attorney who "excels at determining a strategy that is cost-effective for the client and then expertly executing that strategy through top-notch work product and advocacy," and was recognized as an "excellent lawyer with a wide range of experience and knowledge," who is "among the top defense counsel in the broker-dealer bar."

Joe also writes and speaks frequently throughout the State of Ohio and nationwide on topics of interest to litigators and financial services professionals, and is an active member of the Defense Research Institute (DRI), Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys (OACTA) and Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). He also serves as the co-chair of the Securities Arbitration Subcommittee of the American Bar Association's Litigation Section, and is the Vice Chair and past Secretary and Treasurer of the Litigation Section of the Ohio State Bar Association.

When Joe is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family and volunteering for various organizations that help improve the lives, health, well-being and education of the children of our community.

Areas of Practice

  • Commercial Litigation
  • Complex Securities Litigation and Arbitration
  • Financial Institutions Litigation
  • Regulatory Investigations
  • Broker-Dealer and Investment Advisors Liability Defense
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Unfair Competition and Trade Secrets Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • Ohio
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Texas


  • Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland, Ohio
    • J.D. - 1996
  • The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
    • B.A. - 1993
    • Major: Criminology and Criminal Justice

Published Works

  • “Trial Prep 101: Tips on What to Think About, What to Focus on, How to Behave, and What to Wear”, American Bar Association Litigation Section's Securities Litigation Committee Newsletter, Spring, 2017
  • “The Sword and The Shield: Federal Rule 68 Offers of Judgment”, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal, November, 2016
  • “Bullet Points for a Bulletproof Mediation”, Litigation Section Annual Conference, American Bar Association, April, 2016
  • “Expungement Update 2014”, 2014 Ohio Securities Conference, State of Ohio Division of Securities, October, 2014
  • “Expungement Update 2014”, Securities Arbitration 2014, Practising Law Institute, July, 2014
  • “SEC Approved Amendments to FINRA’s Arbitration Codes Relating to Subpoenas and Orders to Direct the Appearance of Witnesses and Production of Documents”, Client Alert, February, 2013
  • “Substantial Changes to FINRA Discovery Guide Forthcoming”, Client Alert, April, 2011
  • “Securities and Exchange Commission Update”, Client Alert, June, 2010
  • “SEC Adopts 'Plain English' Requirement for Mutual Fund Prospectuses”, Client Alert, January, 2009
  • “SEC Approves Rule to Limit Motions to Dismiss in FINRA Arbitration”, Client Alert, January , 2009
  • “The ‘New’ Code of Arbitration Procedure”, Financial Law Resource, Summer, 2007
  • “D.C. Circuit Court Decision Overturning SEC Broker Rule Still Garnering Attention”, Client Alert, May, 2007
  • “Ramifications of Inadvertent Disclosure of Privileged Information”, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Litigation Update: Your Monthly Link to the Section of Litigation; republished in American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Trial Practice 07, April, 2007
  • “Hiring Investigators: Lessons For Litigators In The Wake of The Hewlett-Packard Scandal”, American Bar Association, All Rise: The ABA/YLD Litigation Committee Newsletter, Winter/Spring, 2007
  • “Department of Labor Clarifies Overtime Exempt Status of Registered Representatives in Securities Industry Under the Fair Labor Standards Act”, Client Alert, December, 2006
  • “NASD Staff Permits Broker-Dealer To Use On-Demand Webcast To Satisfy Annual Compliance Meeting Requirements”, Client Alert, December, 2006
  • “The Effective Presentation of Oral and Documentary Evidence”, Chapter in Course Handbook, Securities Arbitration & Mediation: Mastering the Basics, December, 2003


  • “Current Issues in FINRA Arbitration and Enforcement – FINRA Arbitration 2018: Tips, Tricks and Considerations,” American Bar Association (ABA) Tampa Regional CLE Workshop (February 2018)
  • “Everything You Wanted to Know About the Law but Were Afraid to Ask,” Trustmont Group National Conference (October 2017)
  • “Ethical, Practical, and Legal Considerations for Litigating Against Pro Se Parties in Securities Arbitrations,” PLI 2017 Securities Arbitration Clinic (September 2017)
  • “Discovery in Arbitration: Proportionality and Other Issues Arising in the ‘More Efficient’ Forum,” ABA Section of Litigation Roundtable, Webinar (February 2017)
  • “Effectively Counseling Your Clients on Data Preservation,” Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) Law Practice Enhancement Seminar (December 2016)
  • “Arbitration and Compliance Updates,” Trustmont Group National Conference (October 2016)
  • “Preparing For Trial,” Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) Litigation Skills 2016 Seminar (September 2016)
  • “Best Practices for Mediating Business and Corporate Disputes,” American Bar Association (ABA) Litigation Section Annual Conference (April 2016)
  • “When Bad Things Happen to Good People: A Mock FINRA Arbitration,” Trustmont Group National Conference (September 2015)
  • “Arbitrating FINRA Product Cases,” ABA Section of Litigation Roundtable, Webinar (May 2015)
  • “Current Issues In Securities Litigation - When Are Private Placements Public,” American Bar Association (ABA) San Francisco Regional Conference (February 2015)
  • “FINRA Expungement Roundtable: Perspectives from Claimants, Industry, and Regulators,” The Ohio Securities Conference (October 2014)
  • “Restrictive Covenants in the Digital Age and the Future of the Inevitable Disclosure Doctrine,” Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys (OACTA) Business and Commercial Litigation Seminar (August 2014)
  • “An Update on FINRA Expungement: Perspectives from the Claimants’ and Respondents’ Bars,” ABA Section of Litigation Roundtable, Webinar (May 2014)
  • “Current Arbitration and Licensing Issues,” Ohio Securities Conference (October 2009)

Honors and Awards

  • Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating
  • Ohio Super Lawyers (2015-2018)

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Bar Association (Litigation Section – member, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, Securities Litigation Committee, and co-chair, Securities Arbitration Subcommittee)
  • Ohio State Bar Association (Litigation Section Council; Vice-Chair and Past Secretary and Treasurer, Litigation Section)
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (Litigation Section; Securities Section; Trial Counsel, 1999-2000; Certified Grievance Committee, 2000-2003)
  • Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys (Alternative Dispute Resolution and Business & Commercial Litigation Committees)
  • Defense Research Institute (Alternate Dispute Resolution and Commercial Litigation Committees)
  • Guardian ad Litem for Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court – Domestic Relations and Juvenile Divisions (1996-2009)
  • Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) (Member, Compliance & Legal Division)
  • Arbitrator, FINRA

Pro Bono Activities

  • The Leprechaun Foundation (General Counsel, Treasurer, Executive Board Member)
  • The Ohio Center for Law Related Education's High School Mock Trial Competition (Volunteer Judge)
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Cleveland High School Mock Trial Competition (Attorney Advisor)
  • SIFMA Foundation, InvestWrite Student Essay Competition (Volunteer Judge)
  • The Cuyahoga County Guardian ad Litem Project (Member 2008-2009, Advisory Board; Communications and Volunteer/Grant Committees)