This should not surprise anyone. Lawyers easily move back and forth between firms that defend corporations and government agencies that regulate them. The financial payoff comes when they land one of the top jobs in a private law firm. In this case, the lawyer who was in charge of enforcement at the SEC scores a $5 million payoff at a top corporate law firm where he will represent firms under SEC investigation. His knowledge of how the SEC works, and his relationships with SEC lawyers who still work there, will be very valuable.
The biggest problem with the revolving door is that the end game is to land a top job in private practice. That is bound to influence what one does when they are in the SEC or other government agencies. The best way to curb this practice is to pay top government lawyers competitive salaries but that is not practical. The alternative is to pay them well, and extend the waiting period between their exit from government service and a job as a corporate defense attorney. It is only one year today. That is about the time that it takes to review all of the offers that top SEC attorneys receive when they resign. Unfortunately, Congress has been cutting budgets for the SEC, the IRS and other government agencies. We are making careers in government less attractive than they once were.
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