The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has staffed up with five Big Law alumni, including a rainmaker at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York.
Robert Stebbins, a Willkie partner who spent his career the firm’s corporate and financial services department, was named the agency’s general counsel on Monday.
“It’s only good news that one of our partners gets tapped for a high-level government position. It certainly is a reaffirmation that we’re doing things right,” Willkie’s co-chairman, Steven Gartner, said of the appointment. “We are thrilled for Bob, to put it briefly.”
Stebbins is the first Willkie partner to take a job in the Trump administration, Gartner added.
Stebbins became a partner in 2001 and built his practice advising on transactions, mergers and acquisitions and private investments, as well as SEC compliance matters. His previous clients include Morgan Stanley during the ill-fated Pfizer Inc. Allergan plc combination, hedge fund investor Steven Cohen; the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball in several team transactions; and Fiat, according to past ALM coverage.
Gartner said the firm notified Stebbins’ clients this week that he would be leaving. “We have a very big and talented corporate department with a lot of partners, and our goal is to make the transition seamless,” Gartner said.
Willkie has been a player in the New York political and banking scenes for more than a century. The 650-lawyer firm has offices in New York, Washington and Houston and six locations in Europe. Last year its profits per partner averaged $2.63 million, an all-time high.
Other SEC Appointments
Stebbins wasn’t the only private practice lawyer to take an SEC job this month.
Also on Monday, Sean Memon of Sullivan & Cromwell was named the agency’s deputy chief of staff, and Jaime Klima was named chief counsel after several years working in government following a stint at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
Last week the SEC recruited William Hinman from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in Silicon Valley to become director of its division of corporation finance. Lucas Moskowitz, a former Wilmer associate who recently worked for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and for Patomak Global Partners, became the SEC’s chief of staff last week.
Former Sullivan & Cromwell partner Jay Clayton, President Trump’s nominee to chair the SEC, was confirmed by the Senate on May 2.
Meanwhile, at least one Big Law partner got some decidedly unwanted attention from the SEC last week. The agency leveled insider trading claims against Bradley Arant Boult Cummings partner Walter Little, formerly of Foley & Lardner, for allegedly using law firm records to make more than $1 million. Little also faces criminal charges in federal court in Manhattan.
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