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Legal Ethics

SEC Mulls Possible Enforcement Against In-House and Outside Lawyers Who Defend Clients Aggressively

Posted May 2, 2012 11:29 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly pondering whether to take enforcement action against some lawyers who, in the agency's view, defend their clients too aggressively.

Relying in part on unidentified sources, the Wall Street Journal says that the SEC is mulling over what, if anything, to do about in-house and outside counsel who may be coaching clients in the art of "forgetting" and otherwise resisting investigation.

Other attorney conduct that could potentially pose a problem includes "losing" documents, approving conduct that lawyers should know isn't legal and protecting senior management by scapegoating lower-level employees.

However, it is, of course, a lawyer's duty to defend a client vigorously, and proving that an attorney actually obstructed a SEC investigation would be difficult, the article points out.

The agency is also scrutinizing lawyers who approved some mortgage bond deals prior to the financial crisis and the mortgage meltdown.

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