Davis Polk & Wardwell’s Washington office is adding another lawyer to its bench of former SEC officials.
Linda Thomsen, who headed the SEC’s enforcement division until February, is starting as a partner in the firm’s white-collar defense and government investigations and enforcement practices in June. She will be joining former SEC commissioner Annette Nazareth, who started at Davis Polk last year, and Robert Colby, who joined the D.C. office this year after serving as deputy director of the SEC’s trading and markets division.
Also joining Davis Polk’s D.C. office is Raul Yanes, previously an assistant to George W. Bush and White House staff secretary. He starts as a white-collar and government investigations partner later this month. He was a partner at Davis Polk before going to the White House in 2003, where he started as an associate counsel to the president.
Thomsen practiced in Davis Polk’s New York office before joining the SEC in 1995. She started at the commission as assistant chief litigation counsel and went on to become head of enforcement in 2005. After leaving the SEC earlier this year, Thomsen says, “I had no preconceived ideas about where I was going to go, or what I was going to do.” After exploring a number of options, she says Davis Polk’s “quality of practice” and “quality of lawyers” made returning to the firm an obvious choice.
At the firm, Thomsen will advise clients on internal investigations and defend them against SEC probes. After serving at the agency for 14 years, Thomsen says she understands the kind of questions clients should be asking themselves to stay out of trouble with the commission. “I think I know and can see the kind of issues that get people into trouble, and the kinds of processes that cause them to, perhaps, ignore warning signs,” says Thomsen.
Thomsen headed the enforcement division as it came under fire for failing to catch Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, as well as problems that contributed to the meltdown on Wall Street. In response to critics, Thomsen vehemently defends her former division. “I think the professionalism in the division of enforcement is really unparalleled,” she says. “If you look at the totality of the enforcement efforts…it’s really a record that I know I’m proud of.”
She points to settlements of auction-rate securities cases, the expansion of enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and her work leading the Enron investigation, as examples of the enforcement division’s accomplishments.