Buddy Donohue

Andrew “Buddy” Donohue, chief of staff to former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White, has joined Shearman & Sterling as of counsel in its investments funds practice in New York.

“Shearman & Sterling is a fabulous law firm,” said Donohue on Friday about his second return to private practice from the SEC in six years. “I’ve always had the highest regard for them.”

Donohue officially left his influential SEC post in January, along with his former boss White, who returned to Debevoise & Plimpton as senior chair following her four-year tenure leading the regulator. (Andrew Ceresney, a former SEC enforcement chief and another former Debevoise partner, also returned to the firm earlier this year.)

In early 2011, Donohue joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius as an investment management partner in New York after having spent nearly the previous five years as director of the SEC’s division of investment management. After a little more than a year at the firm, Donohue left for The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where he spent nearly the next three years as the financial services giant’s general counsel for investment company matters.

Donohue said his decision to join Shearman & Sterling was predicated on the firm’s willingness to accommodate his work outside practicing law, which includes positions as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School and as an independent director for the mutual fund manager OppenheimerFunds Inc.

“That was important to me at this stage in my career,” said Donohue, who has spent a majority of his 40 years as a lawyer working in the C-suites of some of the world’s largest financial institutions. Donohue said he did not use a legal recruiter to broker his latest lateral move.

Following his graduation from the New York University School of Law in 1975, Donohue worked at Newark, New Jersey-based Kraft & McManimon (now known as McManimon, Scotland & Baumann) and First Investors Corp, where he remained until 1989, having served as a senior vice president and general counsel at the financial services company. In 1991, Donohue headed to OppenheimerFunds Inc., a unit of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., as general counsel a member of the investment fund’s executive committee.

Merrill Lynch Investment Management eventually called on Donohue to become its global general counsel in 2003. Within three years he had joined the SEC, where he was responsible for monitoring investment advisers and companies. After leaving the regulator in late 2010, Donohue spent 18 months at Morgan Lewis, leaving in 2012 to join firm client Goldman Sachs.

In May 2015, Donohue spun through the revolving door once again—the move irked Dennis Kelleher, a former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner who now runs the nonprofit Better Markets Inc.—to become White’s chief of staff, replacing Lona Nallengara, who re-joined Shearman & Sterling in April of this year as a partner in its capital markets and corporate governance practice in New York.

Donohue said his decision to join Shearman & Sterling alongside his SEC predecessor is merely coincidental. But in returning once again to private practice, Donohue said he is looking forward to working with the firm’s wide array of clients who are dealing with an equally wide array of interesting matters.

“I’ve been around a lot and have some pretty good experience,” Donohue said. “I hope to be able to share some of those experiences [and] insights with the other counsels here and with the clients.”