Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has added another name to its ranks of former government officials.
Claudius Modesti, the former director of enforcement at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), has joined Akin Gump as a partner in its white-collar defense and government investigations practice.
His move comes on the heels of two other Akin Gump hires in the capital. Former Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former Texas Rep. Lamar Smith joined the firm as a senior adviser and senior consultant, respectively.
Modesti, a former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett associate, first joined PCAOB in May 2004 as its first enforcement director, leading the team of lawyers and accountants that built the enforcement group from the ground up.
At the PCAOB, a nonprofit corporation created by Congress that oversees the audits of public companies and other dealers, Modesti oversaw policy development and led investigations and enforcement actions. After 14 years, he left in May 2018 amid of wave of senior staff departures.
“I didn’t expect to be there for more than five or six years and I far exceeded my expectations working through the challenging and interesting work,” Modesti said of his time at the PCAOB. “I thought it’d be a good opportunity at this stage in my career to go for a new challenge.”
Before joining PCAOB, Modesti spent over a decade in the public sector. Following a clerkship with the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, he joined the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an attorney in its division of enforcement in 1993.
Four years later, he became a trial attorney in the fraud section of the Justice Department’s criminal division. And, in 2002, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia, where he served as an assistant U.S. attorney for two years.
In his new role at Akin Gump, Modesti will counsel accounting firms, regulated entities and corporations on regulatory investigations and enforcement proceedings involving the PCAOB and SEC, as well as advising on other federal and state criminal investigations.
“I think our regulatory system works well when the regulator is held to their standards and requirements, and I’m looking forward to representing clients and helping them solve problems in front of various regulators,” Modesti said. “It’s a significant transition, but I think it’s a very natural transition.”
“[Modesti’s] extensive enforcement experience involving the regulation and oversight of the accounting and auditing industry represents a significant and distinct addition to our industry-leading, white-collar capabilities,” said Akin Gump chairwoman Kim Koopersmith in a statement. “His judgment, acumen and broad-based enforcement background will be greatly valued by our clients, and I am delighted to welcome him to Akin Gump.”