As the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators continue to increase their scrutiny of digital assets, Perkins Coie added a freshly departed SEC official to its blockchain and digital currency group this week.
Valerie Dahiya, who was a branch chief in the SEC’s division of trading and markets, joined the firm as a partner in Washington, D.C., Perkins Coie said Tuesday.
Before assuming her most recent role in 2014, Dahiya was special counsel in the same division, senior counsel in the SEC’s office of compliance inspections and examinations, and a regulatory analyst at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
A Pacific Northwest native, Dahiya said she has had her eye on Seattle-based Perkins Coie since her law school days at the Seattle University School of Law. She said she left Seattle to get experience in the securities realm, and while she would consider a return someday, she intended to remain in D.C. for the foreseeable future.
“I think I constantly question myself about when is the right time [to move to private practice],” Dahiya said. She said her decision to leave the SEC was motivated by the opportunity to marry two things that were important to her: working at a firm she was familiar with that had roots in her hometown, and the ability to utilize her experience in the broker-dealer sector.
During her time at SEC, she helped implement the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and worked to develop the agency’s response to the 2008 market crash. She ran examinations and inspections of broker-dealers before moving to the division of trading and markets. Now, she said, she was “intrigued” by the notion that she could help bring clarity to those working on the “other side,” outside government.
Dahiya also handled the application of federal laws and rules to cryptocurrencies, digital assets and their trading mechanisms while at the SEC. At Perkins Coie, she’ll be a member of the blockchain technology and digital currency industry group and the investment management practice, counseling clients on the federal securities laws and regulatory framework governing the financial services, investment management and technology realms.
“Valerie is a highly regarded former regulator who perfectly aligns with our current needs,” said Molly Moynihan, co-chair of Perkins Coie’s investment management subgroup, in a statement. “With the increased demands our attorneys are facing in blockchain tech and digital currency, Valerie’s expertise in the broker-dealer community, non-transparent ETFs, and asset management regulatory space will greatly benefit our multi-disciplinary and transactional practice groups.”
Dahiya’s move from the SEC follows Michael Didiuk’s addition to the firm in December 2017. Didiuk joined as a partner in San Francisco and is a member of Perkins Coie’s investment management, fintech and blockchain teams. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco for the SEC as a senior counsel and attorney-adviser. Dahiya said she expects others from the SEC to be drawn to Perkins Coie because of the “innovative, creative, dynamic” work with innovating clients in the tech industry.
The SEC this month launched FinHub, a digital resource for innovation and digital technology. Dahiya said the move was part of its effort to streamline queries about SEC regulations involving fintech, and the action showed that the agency was in an information-gathering posture. She said the current environment, with regulators still grappling with how to treat digital products that didn’t exist until recently, makes it “easy” for companies to enter the securities regulatory realm without even realizing it.