05 Jan 2022

Ex-Labaton Sucharow quintet launch firm for SEC whistleblowers

Team made up of SEC alumni and led by whistleblower practice head Jordan Thomas take clients to found new firm

SEC Whistleblower Advocates chair Jordan Thomas Image courtesy of SEC Whistleblower Advocates

Former US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) assistant director Jordan Thomas has left New York securities law firm Labaton Sucharow along with four partners to launch a firm dedicated to representing SEC whistleblowers.

Thomas, who founded and led the whistleblower representation practice at Labaton, will act as chair of SEC Whistleblower Advocates. Richard Levine, Michael Stevenson, Timothy Warren and Robert Wilson, all of whom are also SEC alumni, have left Labaton with him for the launch.

The founders said they believe a law firm dedicated to SEC whistleblowers ‘is the premier model for serving courageous individuals who wish to report securities violations.’

Thomas told Reuters that all of the clients from Labaton’s whistleblower practice are coming over to the new firm, which initially will have offices in New York and Washington DC. The launch reflects a bullish view of the SEC Whistleblower Program’s future and the maturation of the practice area.

“With the program regularly breaking records and Chairman Gensler’s whistleblower-friendly leadership, we believe that this is the right time to launch this specialty law firm,” said Thomas. “Being a whistleblower has never been more lucrative or dangerous, and our new firm’s mission will be to level the playing field and ensure that SEC whistleblowers don’t have personal or professional regrets.”

The SEC Whistleblower Program offers whistleblowers employment protections, monetary awards and the ability to report anonymously. Since issuing its first award in 2012, the program has awarded around $1.2bn to 236 individuals.

The founders of the new firm say tips from their clients have led to more than $1bn in monetary sanctions levied by the SEC. In 2016 three clients represented by Thomas’ team at Labaton also secured the largest single-case SEC whistleblower award to date, more than $83m, when the SEC announced settlements with Merrill Lynch totalling $415m for its misuse of customer funds.  

Thomas joined Labaton in 2011 after eight years at the SEC, prior to which he was a trial attorney at the US Department of Justice and a judge advocate general for the US Navy.

Levine began at Labaton in 2018 after more than 30 years at the SEC that included serving as associate general counsel for legal policy. Stevenson joined the firm in 2019 having spent a decade as deputy general counsel of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, prior to which he spent a decade at the SEC and served as its senior special counsel. Warren meanwhile had spent the entirety of his career at the SEC and held the role of associate regional director before moving to Labaton in 2017, the same year Wilson joined after more than two decades at the SEC where he was deputy assistant director.

Labaton Sucharow did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the firm’s whistleblower practice page can no longer be accessed on its website and no lawyers are listed as belonging to it.

The former chief of the SEC’s whistleblowing unit, Jane Norberg, also made the transition to private practice last May when she joined the Washington DC office of US firm Arnold & Porter to strengthen its securities enforcement and litigation practice.

 

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