Matthew Martens, the former chief litigation counsel of the SEC who recently led the government’s successful prosecution of ex–Goldman Sachs bond trader Fabrice Tourre, has joined Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr as a securities and litigation partner in Washington, D.C.
“Matt is an excellent securities lawyer and first-rate trial lawyer,” former SEC enforcement chief and current Wilmer’s securities department chair William McLucas said in a statement. “As the stakes continue to get higher in regulatory enforcement matters generally, his experience and abilities as a litigator will be invaluable to our clients and will strengthen our practice group enormously.”
Martens, 41, left his post as the SEC’s lead trial counsel in late September, three months after helping the regulator score one of its biggest post–financial crisis victories by securing a conviction of Tourre on civil securities fraud charges.
The two-week trial saw Martens square off against Tourre’s defense team, which was led by Allen & Overy litigation partner Pamela Chepiga and solo practitioner John “Sean” Coffey, a cofounder and managing director of now-defunct third-party litigation firm BlackRobe Capital and former candidate for New York State attorney general. Coffey and Chepiga sought a new trial for their client last week.
Sibling publication The Am Law Litigation Daily named Martens a Litigator of the Week for his leading role in the prosecution of “Fabulous Fab,” and Reuters reported earlier this year that such Am Law 100 stalwarts as Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; Kirkland & Ellis; Latham & Watkins; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; and Wilmer were vying for his services once he chose to leave public service. (The Am Law Daily contacted Martens this summer for comment about his future aspirations, but never heard back.)
A former clerk to then–U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Martens spent three years as an associate at Latham in the late nineties before joining the Justice Department, where he worked under former assistant U.S. attorney general—and onetime Latham partner—Michael Chertoff.
Martens went on to work in the in U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte, where he became the branch’s deputy criminal chief before joining the SEC in August 2010.
During his three years at the SEC, Martens worked out of Washington, D.C., where he led a team of 40 trial lawyers working out of the commission’s headquarters in the nation’s capital. Martens also oversaw litigators spread across the agency’s 11 regional branch offices.
Wilmer, of course, has long-standing ties to the SEC that are so strong that a watchdog’s report released two years ago questioned the regulator’s independence given the “pipeline” of attorneys moving back and forth between the firm, its contemporaries, and public service.
Martens, whose hire from government service is one of the most notable since Kirkland opened its coffers to lure SEC enforcement chief Robert Khuzami in July, was effusive in describing his new colleagues in the private sector.
“[Wilmer] is well-known by its exceptional work in both the securities and litigation areas and the firm continues to grow through its achievements,” he said in the firm’s press release announcing his arrival. “With outstanding securities and litigation services already in place, [Wilmer] is a great fit for me to grow my practice.”