After a high-profile career at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a subsequent bidding war among law firms hoping to recruit him, Robert Khuzami has chosen to join Kirkland & Ellis, where he will be a partner in the government, regulatory and internal investigations practice. He will split his time between the Washington, D.C., and New York offices.
Kirkland said SEC official Kenneth Lench also will join the firm as a partner in the same practice. Lench has headed the structured and new products unit within the SEC Enforcement Division since January 2010 and will be based in Washington.
Khuzami, the latest official to have gone from enforcing laws targeted at corporate America to protecting its interests, led the SEC's Enforcement Division for four years and left the agency six months ago. During his SEC tenure, the Enforcement Division filed its highest rate of cases, in fiscal years 2011 and 2012, and Khuzami initiated and oversaw the most significant restructuring of the division in agency history, Kirkland noted.
Before joining the SEC, Khuzami worked at Deutsche Bank in New York, initially as global head of litigation and regulatory investigations and then as general counsel for the Americas. From 1991 to 2002, he was a federal prosecutor in the Southern District U.S. Attorney's Office.
"Kirkland presented a unique opportunity to join a growing, highly regarded team," Khuzami said in a statement. Khuzami's prominent career led to widespread interest from large firms aiming to beef up their white-collar practice and stand out among the heavily competitive field. Multiple offers poured in, but Khuzami chose a $5-million-a-year pay package that Kirkland guaranteed for two years, according to The New York Times.