The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Tuesday that securities lawyer and former astrophysicist Brian Cartwright will take up the post of general counsel on Jan. 23. Cartwright succeeds Giovanni Prezioso, who said he plans to return to the private sector.

Cartwright, 58, is a partner at Los Angeles-based international law firm Latham & Watkins, where he chaired the firm’s public company practice and was one of five partners responsible for managing the firm. It is also the same firm at which SEC Chairman Christopher Cox was a partner in the 1980s.