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The Securities and Exchange Commission has named its first advocate for Small Business Capital Formation.

Martha Legg Miller will assume the post in January and head up the agency’s new Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation, which was created pursuant to the bipartisan SEC Small Business Advocate Act of 2016.

The new office provides assistance to small businesses, conducts outreach to better understand the obstacles small businesses face when attempting to access the capital markets, and recommends improvements to the regulatory environment to help facilitate capital formation.

Miller, currently a partner at the Birmingham, Alabama, firm Balch & Bingham LLP, will report directly to the Commission and “work collaboratively with the many staff across the agency focused on helping small businesses access our capital markets in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” the agency said.

Since 2012, while at Balch & Bingham, Miller has represented private companies and investors across a spectrum of corporate transactions, including matters related to the financing of small- and medium-sized businesses.

“Having spent my career working closely with a variety of businesses and their investors, I have a deep appreciation for the needs they face at different phases of their growth,” Miller said in a statement, adding that she looks forward “to the work ahead crafting solutions that meet the needs of businesses across the country.”

She also serves as an advisor for several organizations dedicated to helping start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses, including several focused on women- and minority-owned companies and their investors.

“We are excited for Martha to take on this new and important role,” said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton in a statement. “Martha’s extensive experience working with a diverse set of companies, entrepreneurs and investors — including in communities away from the coasts — will allow her to serve as a direct link to, and advocate for, the many small businesses around the country that drive our local and national economies for the benefit of Main Street investors.”

Miller holds bachelor’s degrees in Cognitive Neuroscience and Communication Studies from Vanderbilt University and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.

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