A former U.S. attorney and current Biglaw partner will be the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to recent reports. President Obama is expected to announce later today that he is nominating Mary Jo White to the position.
White has made a name for herself in the area of white collar defense and is famous for prosecuting terrorists involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings and 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies. She is currently a partner and chair of the litigation group at Debevoise & Plimpton. White steps into the role left open in December 2012, when Mary Schapiro resigned from the post.
White says it is a "great honor" to be nominated. "I’m excited by the opportunity to serve the public in such an important capacity," she says. "It is not without mixed emotion, however, and if confirmed I will certainly miss working alongside my very talented colleagues at Debevoise for whom I have deep respect. Debevoise has built an unparalleled practice and assembled an extraordinarily gifted team, and I know that they will continue to provide our clients with the highest level of service they have come to expect from the firm."
White & Case Partner Greg Little, a former trial counsel for the SEC, says White is a brilliant lawyer and a superb leader. "It bodes well for the future of the SEC,” he says. “Her appointment sends a clear message that the SEC’s enforcement efforts will be increased significantly. [She] is very well respected by Wall Street and they understand that she will be very tough, but they also will appreciate the fact that she will be very fair."
White’s nomination is just one of many changes happening in some of Washington’s top jobs. The SEC’s enforcement chief, Robert Khuzami, stepped down earlier this month, as did Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office head David Kappos. The SEC gained a new GC this month when it brought on Bingham McCutchen partner Geoffrey Aronow to lead the legal function.
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