30 Nov 2021

Sidley hires former FINRA market regulation enforcement head as a partner in New York

Lara Thyagarajan is the latest in a trio of recent Sidley hires from US financial regulatory agencies

Portrait photograph of Lara Thyagarajan

Lara Thyagarajan

Top 10 US firm Sidley Austin has hired the former head of market regulation enforcement at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to bolster its securities enforcement and regulatory practice group.

Lara Thyagarajan joins as a partner in New York, where she will bring with her inside knowledge of the priorities, policies and practices of US financial regulators including FINRA and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). She will advise clients ranging from Wall Street firms, investors and public companies on regulatory investigations from US agencies and others, including the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.

Neal Sullivan, global co-lead of Sidley’s securities enforcement and regulatory practice, said: “With the SEC, FINRA and several exchanges entering an aggressive pro-enforcement business cycle with a particular emphasis on market conduct and market manipulation cases, Lara is a timely addition to Sidley’s practice. Her unique skill set will not only support our work with current clients but also help us continue to expand our industry-leading practice.”  

Thyagarajan spent almost 16 years at FINRA across a range of roles, most recently as head of market regulation enforcement and litigation in the regulator’s enforcement department where she oversaw more than 70 lawyers and managers. She also spent more than two years as counsel to FINRA’s head of enforcement and more than four years as chief counsel for FINRA’s New York region. Prior to her time at FINRA, Thyagarajan spent almost eight years as a partner at Rubin and Rudman in Boston.

Stephen Cohen, Sullivan’s practice co-lead, said: “Lara is a highly regarded enforcement professional that our partners have known for many years. We are thrilled to welcome Lara, who is held in the highest esteem by senior members of the securities bar and at all levels of FINRA.” 

Thyagarajan’s arrival is the latest in a trio of hires from US regulatory agencies. Back in March, Sidley hired the SEC’s former chief corporate governance counsel, Sonia Barros. as a partner in its Washington DC office where she is a member of the firm’s global capital markets group and chair of the group’s recently formed public company advisory subgroup. 

That was followed in May by the arrival of Ranah Esmaili, also from the SEC where she was an associate director in its enforcement division. She also joined as a partner in Washington, sitting in the securities enforcement and regulatory practice group.

Other firms to have recently secured the services of senior government lawyers include Arnold & Porter, which hired the former chief of the SEC's whistleblowing unit, Jane Norberg, to strengthen its securities enforcement and litigation practice in May, and Morrison & Foerster, which secured former US Food and Drug Administration chief counsel Stacy Cline Amin to expand its life sciences and healthcare practice the following month.

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