Last week, I visited an alternate universe. The real world sees a pandemic of bank misconduct, but to the white-collar defense lawyers of Washington, the banks are the victims as they bow beneath the weight of regulators’ remarkably harsh punishments.
I was attending the Securities Enforcement Forum, a gathering of top regulators and white-collar defense worthies. The marquee section was a panel that included Andrew Ceresney, the current enforcement director for the Securities and Exchange Commission, and five of his predecessors. Four of those former S.E.C. officials represent corporations at prominent white-collar law firms: Robert S. Khuzami, President Obama’s first enforcement director who now plies his trade at Kirkland & Ellis; Linda Chatman Thomsen, who served at the George W. Bush-era S.E.C. and now works for Davis Polk & Wardwell; William R. McLucas, the longest-serving agency enforcement director who is now at WilmerHale; and George S. Canellos, who just left the Obama S.E.C. to work for Milbank Tweed. (The well-known Stanley Sporkin, who served in the agency in the 1970s, rounded the panel out.)