When a law firm wants to add a promising but low profile lawyer from the government, one who has never been a partner before, the usual move is to bring the person in as of counsel.
Not at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. The firm today added not one but two equity partners from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Lillian Brown and Jennifer Zepralka. Both worked under Wilmer partner Meredith Cross at the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance.
The move is a resounding vote of confidence in Cross and her two deputies. Cross, who headed the division from 2009 until December 2012, is well-known for her expertise on regulatory intricacies faced by public companies. She was a partner at Wilmer prior to joining the SEC, and headed or co-headed the firm’s corporate practice for seven years.
Cross in an interview sounded thrilled by the addition of her two SEC colleagues. “It allows us to leverage my expertise with two brilliant lawyers who were an integral part of my close advisory team at the SEC,” she said.
Bringing them on board at Wilmer, she added, will make her practice “more fun, more productive and better for clients.”
Wilmer co-managing partner Susan Murley in a press release said the new hires “will greatly enhance our team’s public company counseling, crisis management and securities law expertise.”
Brown has never worked at a law firm before. She joined the SEC in 1999, right after earning her JD from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. Since 2005, she’s served as senior special counsel to the director of the Division of Corporation Finance working directly for each of the last three directors.
“She has special expertise in securities laws relevant to corporate governance and mergers and acquisitions activities, and has been influential in rulemaking and interpretations in those areas, among others,” according the firm’s press release.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to continue to work with Meredith and Jennifer, and to be able do so at WilmerHale,” Brown said in an interview.
Zepralka is a Wilmer alum, working under Cross as an associate at the firm from 2002 until 2009, when she moved with Cross to the SEC. At the agency, Zepralka handled a wide range of policy and technical matters, including rulemaking, legislative proposals, registrant issues and interpretations of federal securities laws and regulations.
“I’m very happy to be returning to WilmerHale and work with colleagues old and new on challenging legal issues,” she said.