Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton announced Tuesday that it has hired outgoing U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission litigation chief Matthew Solomon, becoming the latest firm to snag departing regulatory talent as a new administration heads to the capital.
Solomon, who spent more than three years as chief litigation counsel in the SEC’s Enforcement Division, will join Cleary’s Washington office, the firm said. The announcement comes about a month after the SEC said that Solomon planned to step down. His last day at the agency was Dec. 9, and he plans to start at Cleary in mid-January.
Among other matters, Solomon led the SEC’s litigation against billionaire Steven A. Cohen, who once ran the now-defunct hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors. After the SEC accused him of failing to supervise a portfolio manager who engaged in insider trading, Cohen in January received a two-year ban from overseeing investment funds that manage outside money.
“Matt’s extensive government service and experience litigating complex securities matters will prove invaluable as he joins our exceptional global litigation and enforcement team,” Cleary managing partner Mark Leddy said in a statement.
In addition to Solomon, two other top SEC officials—chairwoman Mary Jo White and SEC enforcement director Andrew Ceresney—have announced their impending departures. Both White and Ceresney came to the SEC from Debevoise & Plimpton; as of Tuesday, it was unclear whether they would return to the firm.
Despite the turnover, Solomon said in an interview that the Enforcement Division was now “in very good shape.” A number of factors drew him to Cleary, he said, including a strong corporate practice that he said would complement his role as a litigator. He also noted Cleary’s “truly global” reach and what he perceived as a collegial atmosphere at the firm.
“It became clear to me that it’s very much a partnership in every sense of the word,” Solomon said. “Coming from government … that’s the culture I’m used to operating in.”
Solomon’s move will put him alongside another former government lawyer who recently joined Cleary, David Gelfand. Cleary hired Gelfand in July from the Department of Justice, where was a deputy assistant attorney general in the Antitrust Division.
“With Matt joining and Dave Gelfand having recently returned to the firm … we have added partners who led the litigation efforts at two of the federal agencies most relevant to our clients,” said Leddy.
Solomon’s legal career has included a host of public-sector positions, starting with a role as counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and as a trial attorney in the DOJ Criminal Division’s public integrity unit, according to the SEC. Before joining the SEC, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, and eventually rose to lead that office’s fraud unit, where he oversaw a group of 25 prosecutors focused on white-collar, securities fraud, foreign bribery and other cases.
The SEC brought Solomon on board in 2012 as deputy chief litigation counsel in the agency’s Enforcement Division. In 2013, he was elevated to chief litigation counsel, a role that put him in charge of the SEC’s efforts in court. He oversaw some 22 cases that went to trial and resulted in favorable verdicts for the agency, according to Cleary.
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