Organizationally, the practice group’s activities revolve around eight practice areas.
The firm represents seven of the eight largest accounting firms as well as the accounting profession’s main professional association, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and its newly formed association regarding audits of the financial statements of public companies, the Center for Audit Quality. The group defends the accounting profession in federal securities litigation and class actions, as an amicus participant before the highest-level federal and state courts, in federal bankruptcy proceedings, in SEC and other governmental investigations and proceedings, and in congressional and regulatory testimony.
Audit Committee Investigations & Corporate Governance
The practice group literally wrote the book — Accounting Irregularities & Financial Fraud: A Corporate Governance Guide — on the proper conduct of investigations into accounting improprieties on behalf of audit committees and other special committees of boards of directors. The practice group has been called upon to assist in many of the highest-profile audit committee investigations, including those involving Enron, Xerox, Dell, HealthSouth, the City of San Diego, Fannie Mae, and Cendant. The group has earned accolades for its accomplishments in efficiently uncovering financial fraud — for example, its groundbreaking investigation into accounting fraud at Cendant Corp. was described in a Fortune magazine cover story as "remarkable." The group’s clients in this area include a former Chairman of the U.S. Senate’s principal investigative committee. The group’s membership is regularly called upon to publish articles, speak at conferences, and otherwise assist with improvements to audit committees and corporate governance generally.
The mainstay of the practice group’s activity is the defense of public companies, accounting firms, investment banks, officers, directors, audit committees, and boards of directors in securities litigation and enforcement proceedings arising out of financial reporting. The depth of the group’s experience in financial reporting gives it a significant advantage against almost any adversary — civil or govern— as the practice group’s experience brings to the fore a level of legislative and regulatory knowledge often not shared by the other participants.
Regulated & Unregulated Funds
With an asset management practice headed by the SEC’s former Director of the Division of Investment Management, the firm brings particular depth and experience to litigation and proceedings involving asset management, including hedge funds. The firm is positioned to provide in-depth experience particularly in matters involving the Investment Company Act of 1940 and the Investment Advisers Act.
Much of the practice group’s recent activities and efforts have been devoted to handling governmental investigations into insider trading. The group’s client base includes a large number of hedge funds and other focal points of governmental attention, and the group has defended numerous investigations involving so-called "expert networks" and alleged improper use of corporate secrets and confidences. Practice group members active in this area include several former prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. One practice group member’s recent investigative efforts involving insider trading have been profiled in James Stewart’s 2011 book, Tangled Webs.
Mergers & Acquisitions
The practice group regularly appears in both Delaware and New York courts in litigations involving mergers and acquisitions. Recent M&A litigations include those involving Kenneth Cole, J. Crew, MacAndrews & Forbes, and Allied World.
With membership that includes senior former enforcement veterans of the SEC, the group’s enforcement practice brings an unparalleled depth of experience to a wide spectrum of enforcement proceedings. These include enforcement proceedings brought by the SEC, FINRA, the PCAOB, and other regulatory bodies both within and outside the United States. The experience of the group’s enforcement veterans includes regulatory investigations involving public companies, hedge funds, audit committees, boards of directors, broker-dealers, commercial banks, and accounting firms. The group has particular experience in structured finance, derivatives, credit default swaps, other mortgage-related instruments involved in the financial crisis, broker-dealer compliance, and investigations into trading practices.
Trading and Markets
Led by a 16-year veteran of the SEC who served as Senior Associate Director of the Division of Market Regulation (now the Division of Trading & Markets), this area of the group’s practice focuses on trading rules, derivatives, alternative trading systems, hedge funds, and broker-dealer regulations and compliance. Clients include major securities firms, equity and options market-making desks, securities and derivatives markets, electronic and internet-based trading systems, and hedge funds. The group has been particularly active in investigations by the SEC, FINRA, and securities exchanges.