About the Office
The General Counsel is the chief legal officer of the Commission and heads the Office of the General Counsel (OGC). The office provides a variety of legal services to the Commission and staff, and is divided into four groups: Appellate, General Litigation, Adjudication, and Legal Policy. The office prepares all of the Commission's appellate and amicus briefs; litigates all non-enforcement matters on behalf of the agency; assists in preparing Commission opinions in adjudications set for a hearing before the Commission and on appeal from administrative law judges, stock exchanges, FINRA, and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board; and provides legal advice and counseling concerning recommendations for Commission action from the various divisions and offices, including rulemaking recommendations and recommendations to bring enforcement actions, as well as other questions concerning the federal securities laws, administrative laws, and other laws that affect independent agencies.
The OGC Appellate Litigation Group represents the Commission in litigation to which it is a party in the federal courts of appeals and (in conjunction with the Solicitor General) in the U.S. Supreme Court. For the most part, these cases involve appeals from Commission injunctive actions and petitions seeking review of Commission administrative orders. In addition, the group represents the Commission as amicus curiae in private litigation raising important issues under the federal securities laws. The Appellate Litigation Group is also responsible for representing the Commission in proceedings under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in cases involving companies with a significant number of public security holders and raising issues of significance.
The OGC General Litigation Group defends the Commission in civil and administrative litigation relating to the performance of the Commission's official functions. These cases arise under a variety of statutes, such as the federal employment and labor laws, the Administrative Procedure, Freedom of Information, Right to Financial Privacy, and Equal Access to Justice Acts. The Group also represents the Commission in contract dispute appeals and in bid protests before the GAO. Further, the Group investigates matters involving attorney misconduct, including possible violations of the federal securities laws and unethical conduct in practicing before the Commission, and litigates any resulting administrative disciplinary proceedings under Rule 102(e) of the Commission's Rules of Practice. The Group also provides legal advice to management on a broad range of issues, including matters related to: the SEC’s budget, real estate leasing, intellectual property disputes, personnel and EEO proceedings, and labor relations and collective bargaining.
The OGC Adjudication Group advises and assists the Commission in issuing published opinions in contested appeals. The Commission's opinions guide the securities industry on questions of law. Adjudication attorneys advise the Commission on complex factual and legal issues, study the evidentiary records on appeal, and research the relevant substantive and procedural requirements. The appeals present challenges to decisions by administrative law judges, stock exchanges, FINRA, and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Many cases involve disciplinary actions against brokerage firms and other securities professionals.
The OGC Legal Policy Group provides legal and policy analysis and advice to the Commission, individual Commissioners, and the Commission's divisions and offices concerning the federal securities laws, administrative laws, and other applicable laws. The Group analyzes all enforcement, rulemaking and other regulatory recommendations to the Commission from the operating divisions and offices. In addition, the Legal Policy Group provides legal and policy assistance on legislative matters, working on testimony, participating in briefings of Congressional staff, and responding to Congressional correspondence.
Modified: Feb. 3, 2022