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May 19, 2011 1:39 PM

New SEC Nominee Deepens Wilmer's Agency Ties

Posted by Brian Baxter

There has been much talk lately about a revolving door at the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the case of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, "pipeline" might be a more appropriate metaphor.

The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it had nominated former SEC official and current Wilmer securities partner Daniel Gallagher, Jr., to become one of the regulator's five commissioners.

Gallagher was tapped to succeed outgoing commissioner Kathleen Casey, whose five-year term expires in June. Gallagher previously served as deputy director of the SEC's division of trading and markets before leaving in January 2010 to rejoin Wilmer, where he was an associate from 1999 to 2003. If he wins confirmation, Gallagher can expect to encounter plenty of familiar faces at the agency he left a little more than a year ago.

In March, former Wilmer partner Anne Small was named the SEC's deputy general counsel. In that post, Small now works closely with another Wilmer alum, ex-partner Mark Cahn, who was named  SEC general counsel in February. Cahn left Wilmer in March 2009 to become deputy general counsel for litigation and adjudication at the SEC (the job now held by Small). And in November, former Wilmer partner Joseph Brenner was named chief counsel for the SEC's division of enforcement.

Other Wilmer alums currently working for the SEC include Cathy Ahn, senior special counsel in the legal policy group of the office of the general counsel, and associate general counsel Jeffrey Singdahlsen

In April 2009, another prominent Wilmer partner, Meredith Cross, left the firm to become the director of the regulator's division of corporate finance. Cross previously spent more than seven years as cochair of the corporate practice at Wilmer, which she joined in 1998.

The pipeline flows both ways. Andrew Vollmer, a former deputy general counsel at the SEC and briefly acting general counsel for the agency, returned to Wilmer in April 2009. William McLucas, the chair of Wilmer's securities department, is considered one of the most prominent advisers in the country to public companies and their boards of directors on regulatory matters. He spent more than 20 years at the SEC--eight as director of the division of enforcement--working under five successive chairmen of the agency. McLucas joined Wilmer in 1998. (Another ex-enforcement director, former Wilmer partner Stephen Cutler, joined JPMorgan Chase as its general counsel in February 2007.)

The Wall Street Journal reports that should Gallagher's nomination be confirmed, the SEC's five-member governing body would maintain its current three Democrat, two Republican split. Gallagher is up for the Republican seat currently held by Casey, although SEC rules allow commissioners to stay on for as long as 18 months after their terms if no successor is appointed.

The White House also requested Wednesday that another commissioner, Democrat Luis Aguilar, a former McKenna Long & Aldridge partner, be extended for a second term.

Elsewhere within the Obama administration's announcements for key administration posts, another name caught our eye: former Brooklyn Law School professor and child actor Charles Korsmo, who we wrote about a few years ago, has been nominated as a member of the board of trustees for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Korsmo--whose screen credits include appearances in Can't Hardly Wait, Dick Tracy, and What About Bob?--will be an assistant professor of law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law starting this summer. Alas, he never worked at Wilmer, instead spending his time in private practice as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell.

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