Practice Areas & Industries: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP


Securities Enforcement & Litigation Return to Practice Areas & Industries

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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Sutherland defends securities and accounting clients in exams, investigations and litigation involving the SEC, FINRA, other self-regulatory organizations, states and private parties.

Sutherland defends broker-dealers, investment advisers, public companies, accounting firms and individuals in securities exams, investigations, enforcement actions, arbitrations and related securities litigation, including class actions. With a comprehensive understanding of the financial regulatory landscape and an appreciation of our clients’ business needs, we know what it takes to make cases go away—whether that means shutting cases down early, negotiating reasonable settlements or litigating.

We represent clients in investigations by federal or state civil or criminal authorities and self-regulatory organizations (SROs), and undertake internal investigations for clients on behalf of audit committees, boards of directors, and other corporate clients. We also handle white collar defense. We know that at times it pays to litigate, and we have extensive experience litigating against the regulators as well as trying federal and state cases, arbitrations and class actions. Our nationally recognized enforcement and litigation practice typically works with our financial services regulatory colleagues to counsel broker-dealers, investment advisers and other regulated businesses on regulatory compliance issues.

Sutherland's team includes attorneys who have served as senior counsel at the SEC, FINRA and the Department of Justice (DOJ). Consequently, we know how the regulators approach examinations, investigations and litigation, enabling us to see potential pitfalls. Our attorneys appear before the SEC, FINRA and other SROs as well as state regulators’ offices throughout the country. We also litigate in federal and state courts nationally.

Why Sutherland
Full range of services.
We offer complete legal services, including advice and support during federal and state regulatory compliance examinations; internal investigations; defense and guidance during civil and/or criminal investigations; vigorous representation in arbitrations, as well as in self-regulatory, administrative, civil, and criminal proceedings, trials and appeals.

We understand regulators. Many of our attorneys were at one time senior counsel with the SEC, NASD/FINRA and the DOJ. This gives us exceptional insight into the concerns of regulators and enables us to assist clients in dealings with regulators in ways few others can.

Extensive agency experience. We have extensive knowledge of federal and state administrative agencies and can provide our clients with advice particular to each agency, regulator and office. In addition, we are prepared to litigate when reasonable solutions are not possible or when bet-the-company matters arise.

Internal investigations. Our attorneys work with clients to develop and prepare appropriate reports for audit committees, corporate boards, counsel and regulators in connection with internal investigations.

State-level expertise. Our experience provides us with depth and understanding of state regulatory agencies—and helps us conceive and implement strategies that lead to effective and efficient solutions. Sutherland attorneys are involved daily in enforcement matters. We know the rules and what hot issues are on the minds of state regulators.

Proactive advice. Preventing problems is always easier than solving them. We work with our financial services regulatory colleagues to help clients establish effective compliance programs.

Nuts and Bolts
Our experience includes matters in the areas of:

  • variable products
  • alternative investments, including Regulation D investments and non-traded REITs
  • Suitability Rule and Know Your Customer Rule
  • sales practice issues (including churning and unauthorized trading)
  • insider trading
  • books and records
  • supervision
  • gifts and gratuities
  • non-cash compensation
  • 529 Plans
  • selling away and outside business activities
  • municipal securities
  • unregistered offerings
  • market manipulation
  • chief legal officer/chief compliance officer liability
  • financial reporting and accounting
  • asset management
  • market abuse
  • government contracts/procurement
  • money-laundering (criminal and administrative)
  • directed brokerage/revenue sharing
  • market timing and late trading
  • commercial bribery/kickbacks
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including parallel investigations by foreign governments

Take Action
When clients need to respond to regulatory scrutiny, conduct an internal investigation, or defend civil actions, Sutherland’s experienced Securities Enforcement & Litigation practice is ready to take the lead.

Selected Experience
Multifaceted eleventh-hour settlement favors Morgan Keegan & Company Inc.
On the eve of the trial against the SEC, Sutherland negotiated a settlement with the SEC, FINRA and the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee. The settlement resolved administrative proceedings against a broker-dealer/investment adviser client involving the sales of mutual funds. The settlement included significantly reduced charges and a fine substantially less than what the regulators originally demanded.

Sutherland serves as national counsel for complex product cases.
Sutherland serves as nationwide counsel for a major independent broker-dealer in a large number of related regulatory matters, class actions and arbitrations concerning Regulation D offerings, non-traded REITs, and other alternative investments, including product due diligence, suitability, and supervision issues. Sutherland has successfully litigated and settled actions brought by national and state regulatory authorities, as well as private litigation, arbitrations and mediations.

Sutherland convinces multiple government agencies and Congressional Committee to close investigations of broker-dealer and insurance company.
Sutherland successfully represented a broker-dealer and its affiliated insurance company in investigations by the SEC, FINRA, a state and a House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor in connection with revenue sharing and marketing payments.  After three years, each entity closed its investigation without action.