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Former SEC Chair White Returns to Debevoise

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Mary Jo White, who chaired the Securities and Exchange Commission for nearly four years under the Obama administration, is returning to Debevoise & Plimpton as senior chair of the firm, Debevoise announced Wednesday.

The firm said White, 69, will focus on counseling boards of directors and representing companies facing government investigations and enforcement actions.

— Related: Mary Jo White Fears Demise of SEC’s Independence

White has previously practiced at Debevoise for long stretches, including before and after she served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1993 to 2002.

“I am delighted to return once again to Debevoise,” White said in a statement. “I am eager to begin this next chapter of my career and assist clients with their most critical matters.”

Andrew Ceresney, who was SEC enforcement director under her leadership, also announced last month that he would return to Debevoise. He will rejoin the firm in March as litigation co-chair, the same title White held before she became SEC chair.

During White’s tenure as chair, the commission brought more than 2,850 enforcement actions, more than any other three-year period in the SEC’s history, and obtained judgments and orders totaling more than $13.4 billion. In addition, White implemented an SEC policy to require admissions of wrongdoing in certain cases.

“Simply put, Mary Jo is a giant in the legal profession,” said Michael Blair, Debevoise’s presiding partner, in a statement. “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.”

Debevoise is one of the most profitable law firms on Wall Street, with average profits per partner reaching $2.625 million in 2015, according to The American Lawyer. The year before White left to lead the SEC, she received slightly more than $2.4 million from the firm, according to ethics disclosures.

— Check out Sizing Up the New SEC Chair’s Agenda on ThinkAdvisor.


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