Debevoise & Plimpton LLP today announced that Mary Jo White, who served from April 2013 to January 2017 as Chair of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, will return to legal practice at Debevoise and serve as Senior Chair of the firm. She was Chair of Debevoise’s Litigation Department from 2002 to 2013, prior to which she served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York for nearly nine years.
Ms. White’s practice will focus on counseling boards of directors and representing clients on significant and sensitive matters, including companies facing crises involving multi-faceted government investigations and cases. Her arrival follows the announcement that Andrew J. Ceresney will also rejoin Debevoise after serving under Ms. White as the Director of the Division of Enforcement at the SEC.
“I am delighted to return once again to Debevoise,” Ms. White said. “The firm has the preeminent white collar practice and many of the finest lawyers and colleagues with whom I have ever worked. I am eager to begin this next chapter of my career and assist clients with their most critical matters.”
“Simply put, Mary Jo is a giant in the legal profession,” said Michael W. Blair, Debevoise’s Presiding Partner. “Few, if any, other lawyers have garnered the respect and admiration that Mary Jo has throughout her distinguished career. Mary Jo’s leadership and accomplishments are truly extraordinary, and her experience and judgment will be a tremendous asset to our clients and the firm.”
“Having served both as Chair of the SEC and as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mary Jo brings an unmatched range of knowledge and experience and a uniquely informed perspective to our clients on their most challenging and complex matters,” said Bruce E. Yannett, Deputy Presiding Partner and Chair of the White Collar & Regulatory Defense Group. “Her return to the firm also further strengthens Debevoise’s market-leading white collar and regulatory defense practice, which Mary Jo played a vital role in helping to build.”
Ms. White, who was nominated by President Obama to lead the SEC, was one of the Commission’s longest-serving Chairs. Under Ms. White’s leadership, the Commission strengthened protections for investors and the markets through transformative rulemakings that addressed major issues raised by the financial crisis, and created the framework for the future regulation of the asset management industry, enhancement of equity market structure and disclosure effectiveness. The Commission also instituted changes to enforcement that resulted in greater accountability and record levels of actions and monetary remedies ordered.
Ms. White’s groundbreaking career has included being the only woman to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the more than 200-year history of that office. Ms. White also served as the Chair of Attorney General Janet Reno’s Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys. Prior to becoming the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, Ms. White served as the First Assistant U.S. Attorney and Acting U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York from 1990 to 1993.
According to Chambers Global 2016, Debevoise stands in a class of its own in the white collar space as the only firm in Band 1 in the “Corporate Investigations – Global-wide” category. Debevoise’s White Collar & Regulatory Defense Group has a roster of clients that comprises many of the world’s leading companies. In addition to Ms. White and Mr. Ceresney, Debevoise has several other prominent former SEC, DOJ and other officials, including two former co-chiefs of the Asset Management Unit of the Division of Enforcement, a former Associate Director of the Division of Enforcement and the former Associate Director of the Division of Investment Management. In addition, Debevoise is the only law firm with two former Attorneys General: Lord Goldsmith KC, the former Attorney General of the UK who serves as the firm’s Co-Managing Partner in London and Chair of European and Asian Litigation; and Judge Michael B. Mukasey, former U.S. Attorney General and currently of counsel at the firm. In all, the group includes 16 former Assistant U.S. Attorneys or Department of Justice attorneys; the former Acting Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ Criminal Division and the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and a former leading federal district court judge, the Honorable John Gleeson.
Ms. White is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International College of Trial Lawyers. She is the recipient of numerous awards and is regularly ranked as a leading lawyer by directories that evaluate law firms. In addition, Ms. White has served as Director of The NASDAQ Stock Exchange, and on its Executive, Audit and Policy Committees. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
From 1983 to 1990, Ms. White was a litigation partner at Debevoise. From 1978 to 1981, she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where she became Chief Appellate Attorney of the Criminal Division. Ms. White graduated from William & Mary, Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Psychology, The New School for Social Research with an M.A. in Psychology and Columbia Law School with a J.D., where she was an officer of the Law Review.
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