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The financial reform law signed into law by President Barack Obama on July 21 targets a sector that has previously escaped vigorous government scrutiny — hedge funds and private equity funds. The Private Fund Investment Advisers Registration Act of 2010, which was enacted as part of the financial reform law (officially the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), calls for most hedge fund and private fund advisers to register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The law exempts investment advisers who manage only venture capital funds, but it’s not clear which companies will be exempt from the rules because the SEC has a year to define what’s a venture capital fund for purposes of the law.

More onerously, companies subject to the act will be required to adopt compliance programs, tap a chief compliance officer, craft a written code of ethics and implement policies to curb insider trading. Thomas Beaudoin, a partner in the Boston office of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr who chairs the firm’s fund formation practice group, discussed the types of companies that are subject to the law, what it means for overseas private advisers and the law’s impact on attorneys. The Q&A has been edited for space and clarity

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