Regulatory Enforcement Defense

Our team includes lawyers who have held senior positions at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including a former Associate Director, Deputy Chief Litigation Counsel, three former branch chiefs, and a former Senior Counsel in the SEC's Enforcement division.

We counsel and defend individuals and entities in connection with inquiries, investigations, and civil and criminal enforcement actions initiated by various government regulatory agencies and self-regulatory organizations. We defend clients before the SEC, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and other federal and state securities and financial regulators. Our lawyers have represented clients in regulatory enforcement matters involving potential violations of both U.S. and E.U. statutes or regulations conducted individually, and/or jointly, by the SEC, U.S. Department of Justice, and non-U.S. financial regulators. We are well versed in the language, regulations, rules, policies, and processes of these organizations and offer clients the experience, insights, and judgment needed to secure successful outcomes.

Our lawyers have been retained by corporations, boards of directors, and board committees to conduct internal investigations and reviews. We have also been retained by non-profit and public-sector entities requiring investigative assistance and guidance. We have conducted internal investigations covering a variety of topics, including financial fraud, recordkeeping and regulatory compliance. Our lawyers demonstrate sensitivity and discretion regarding the issues that may be encountered during internal investigations, such as confidentiality concerns, personnel privacy, and attorney-client privilege.

Our lawyers have represented corporations and individuals under investigation for, charged with, or suspected of criminal law violations, or who may be witnesses in connection with such alleged criminal violations. Our lawyers have experience defending both domestic and international criminal investigations. We have represented clients before the Department of Justice, offices of state attorneys general, and local district attorney offices.

Looking Forward

Despite a 35-day government shutdown, a longstanding hiring freeze only recently lifted, and the challenge of policing new products and evolving trading patterns, the SEC saw a solid growth in its enforcement statistics. This vigor will unquestionably persist during 2020. As we look forward, things to watch closely include the following: The Supreme Court’s Liu case will likely resolve the question, first raised two years ago in Kokesh, of the SEC’s statutory authority to seek disgorgement in federal court. At the same time, Congress has mustered strong bipartisan support for legislation that would confirm the SECs disgorgement authority and extend the disgorgement statute of limitations from 5 to 14 years. Other pending legislation proposes to substantially increase the measure of SEC monetary penalties, including by adding a restitutionary penalty. The SEC has largely worked through its backlog of remanded administrative proceedings following the successful appointments clause challenge to its ALJs in Lucia, but its administrative adjudication system remains frozen, at least for litigated cases, by a new Constitutional challenge based on the removal clause. Finally, the SEC enforcement staff continues to struggle with the ill fit of the Howey test to digital assets, and cases during 2020 will present an opportunity to rationalize regulation of this new asset class.