U.S. SEC taps White House attorney to be general counsel

WASHINGTON, April 23 Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:35pm EDT

WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission tapped White House attorney Anne Small on Tuesday to become its general counsel, marking the first time a woman has served in that role at the agency.

This is SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White's second major hiring decision since taking over that position earlier this month.

On Monday, she appointed George Canellos and Andrew Ceresney, two attorneys with whom she previously worked, to be co-directors of the SEC's enforcement division.

White is said to be reviewing candidates for a top position in the SEC's Trading and Markets Division. The names floated have included Joseph Lombard, an adviser to former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, and Virtu Financial executive Christopher Concannon. [ID: nL2N0CZ1H1]

As general counsel, Small will preside over the office that serves as the main lawyer for the agency itself, handling everything from enforcement policy decisions to defending the SEC when it is sued.

She will succeed Geoffrey Aronow, who was tapped in early January to be general counsel when Commissioner Elisse Walter was still serving as chairman.

The SEC said that Aronow, a former enforcement director at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and partner at Bingham McCutchen LLP, would continue working at the agency as a senior counsel to White.

"Even in his short stint as General Counsel, Geoff has proved himself to be a wise and insightful counselor to the Commission," White said.

Small served at the SEC as deputy general counsel from March 2011 until October that year, when she left for the White House position.

Before working at the SEC, Small was a partner at the New York office of WilmerHale, a law firm that employs a large contingent of SEC alumni.

She also served as a law clerk for Judge Guido Calabresi on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court.