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LOS ANGELES � This month’s resignation of Randall Lee, the Los Angeles regional director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, comes as the Southern California office has filed fewer complaints and faced several departures in the past two years. On May 15, Lee announced he would leave the SEC at the end of June after 5 1/2 years heading its Los Angeles regional office. He did not indicate his next career move. In the past year and a half, the office has experienced a drop in the number of complaints filed, according to former SEC attorneys and the SEC’s Web site. Meanwhile, about half a dozen attorneys and several accountants have left the office in the past two years, many of them lured by higher salaries in the private sector. Lee downplayed the significance of the departures, noting that attorneys with SEC experience are in large demand. “I don’t think that the turnover is . . . at all atypical,” he said. As to complaints, he noted that several recent cases were extraordinarily complex requiring the use of extensive staff resources. “What matters most is the significance of the cases we are bringing, as well as the cases we are trying,” Lee said. “In that respect, our office has a super track record.” Numbers are down According to the SEC’s Web site, the office brought about 20 complaints, or amended complaints, during the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2006. That number excludes administrative actions, which are brought before an administrative judge with the SEC. Nearly three-quarters into this fiscal year, the office has filed six complaints, excluding administrative actions. The number of complaints is a factor in the performance of an SEC office, said Nick Morgan, former senior trial counsel at the office who left in 2005 to become a partner in the Los Angeles office of DLA Piper. “Internally, those offices are judged, in part, by the number of cases they file,” he said. “And the numbers were down in terms of the number of cases filed.” But Lee said the system, while used, is an “artificial and uninformative way of measuring productivity because it tells you nothing about the significance, importance, size and complexity of the matter brought.” He noted that the office has handled several complex cases in recent years, such as a case against the former chief financial officer and controller of computer maker Gateway Inc. in San Diego that resulted in successful jury verdicts in March. He also said the office filed eight complaints by this time last year. “I anticipate our overall fiscal year actions filed will be relatively comparable to the past year,” he said, noting that a substantial number of cases are filed late in the fiscal year. High demand Since mid-2005, the office has undergone several staff changes, most notably replacement of an outgoing associate regional director for enforcement with two co-heads of enforcement due to the “significance and complexity of the matters we were handling,” Lee said. The office has 160 staff members, including attorneys, accountants and examiners. About half a dozen attorneys and several accountants have left since that time. Jorge deNeve, counsel to O’Melveny & Myers who left in February after four years as a staff attorney, called the number of departures “a little high.” Lisa Gok, the former assistant regional director for enforcement, left for Transamerica Financial Advisors Inc., and Lisa Troe, regional chief enforcement accountant, became a senior managing director at FTI Consulting Inc. Gok declined to comment; Troe said that FTI offered a more challenging job with a higher salary. Last June, Michael Piazza, regional trial counsel for the office, joined the Irvine, Calif., office of Dorsey & Whitney as a partner. He declined to comment. Morgan said there is high demand in the private sector for lawyers with SEC experience. “I’d been there seven years and the private sector can pay more than the government can,” he said. Despite those demands, Lee said that all of the departing attorneys have been replaced with new hires.

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