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Former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox, who was also a Republican member of Congress for 17 years, will join Bingham McCutchen in September as a partner in the law firm’s Orange County office in Costa Mesa, Calif., as the firm seeks to build its presence in the region. Cox, 56, will be part of Bingham’s corporate, mergers and acquisitions, and securities practice and its affiliated Bingham Consulting Group, giving the Boston-founded firm the benefit of his deep roots in the southern California area, Bingham said in a statement. “He brings a high level of talent and relationships and very strong background as a lawyer,” said Rick Welch, Bingham’s managing partner in Los Angeles for the southern California region, which includes three firm offices. Cox left the SEC, which oversees the securities industry, in January at the end of the Bush administration, amid Washington blame-trading over bank failures, the mortgage securities crisis and other financial debacles related to the economic downturn. He served in the chairman post about 3 1/2 years before being succeeded by the Obama administration’s appointee, Mary Schapiro. Cox came to the firm through his connections to former California Gov. Pete Wilson, Welch said in an interview. Wilson is of counsel to the firm’s Los Angles office. Bringing Cox to the Orange County office, where the firm has about 17 lawyers, also demonstrates the firm’s commitment to the area at a time when some national firms are second-guessing their presence there, Welch said. The firm has five offices in California, with three in southern California, also including Los Angeles and Santa Monica offices. Bingham earlier this month announced its intent to merge on Aug. 1 with the tax specialty firm McKee Nelson, creating a combined firm of about 1,100 lawyers and a larger presence in Washington and New York. “The firm’s considerable presence in Southern California and Washington, DC, as well as its strength in the telecommunications, biotechnology, and homeland security areas align well with my past experience,” Cox said in a statement from the firm. Cox is returning to the state that sent him to Congress after he moved to California from Washington. Prior to being elected to Congress in 1988, he was senior associate counsel to President Ronald Reagan from 1986 to 1988. He was an attorney at Latham & Watkins from 1978 to 1986, specializing in venture capital and corporate finance and leading the firm’s corporate department in Orange County. He was also a member of the firm’s national management. As a member of the House of Representatives, Cox was chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Select Committee on U.S. National Security. Cox is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. He took a leave from Latham in 1982 to teach federal income tax at Harvard Business School for a year.

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