In a major development that concerns California securities litigation lawyers and investors, the federal administration has nominated Mary Jo White as chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. There has been a lot of praise for this decision to nominate White, who has been famous for her tough approach to investor security.
However, there are also some questions being raised about conflict of interest, especially concerning her past as a leading defense lawyer for some of these major corporations, as well as the fact that her husband is currently part of a law firm that makes most of its money defending major corporations.
According to the New York Times, in the past, White has represented a number of clients that include top Wall Street banks as well as major financial institutions. She represented many of these companies during private practice at Debevoise & Plimpton. Some of her past clients have included J.P. Morgan Chase and News Corp., companies that have recently been in the news because of some very public lawsuits.
Some experts believe that because of her past experience in white collar crime defense, Mary Jo White could, as Chief of the Securities Exchange Commission, be in a position where she may have to recuse herself from important cases. In such cases, a recusal could actually mean that the Securities and Exchange Commission would not be able to take important decisions in some critical matters.
There is no doubt that White brings a depth of experience and maturity to her future role, but she will be required to walk a fine line between her past in white collar crime defense and her job as SEC head.