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Former SEC GC Stebbins heads back to Willkie

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Willkie Farr & Gallagher offices in New York City. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

  • Robert Stebbins will head the firm's corporate governance practice
  • He previously practiced at Willkie for 24 years

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(Reuters) - Willkie Farr & Gallagher said on Tuesday that Robert Stebbins has returned to the firm following nearly four years as U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission general counsel.

Stebbins, who practiced at Willkie for 24 years before joining the SEC in 2017, will head up the firm's corporate governance practice. He'll be part of the 1,000-lawyer firm's corporate and financial services department in New York.

Stebbins began his earlier tenure at Willkie in 1993, and made partner in 2001, according to his firm bio. Willkie's New York office, one of 13 for the firm, has about 400 lawyers, according to the firm's website.

"Bob is a skilled leader and talented practitioner who helped navigate numerous novel and complex issues faced by the SEC," Thomas Cerabino, chairman of Willkie, said in a statement. "His direct experience and deep understanding of the regulatory and legal intricacies that companies face today will be a tremendous benefit to our clients."

Stebbins led the SEC general counsel's office until January, through a period Willkie described in its announcement as "one of the most active and wide-ranging rule calendars in the agency's history," which included advising on 85 rules.

Starting in the spring of 2020, he also helped guide the Treasury Department on its implementation of the CARES Act, the announcement said.

Stebbins' practice at Willkie will include advising on SEC compliance and enforcement, corporate governance, and internal and governmental investigations, according to the firm.

"I look forward to further developing my practice and drawing upon my regulatory experience to help our clients," Stebbins said in a statement.

New York-founded Willkie has made a series of recent hires across practice areas and offices. Last week, the firm brought on former Paul Hastings partner Andres Mena in New York to co-chair its finance practice, and earlier this month launched an office in Los Angeles with three former Venable partners. The new L.A. office is the firm's third in California, after opening outposts in Palo Alto in 2018 and San Francisco in 2019.

Another former SEC official also landed in private practice this week. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom on Monday announced its hire of Daniel Michael, who was most recently chief of the complex financial instruments unit of the SEC's enforcement division.

Read more:

Former head of SEC's complex products group goes to private practice

Paul Hastings dealmaker jumps to Willkie as finance co-chair

Willkie launches Los Angeles office with three Venable hires

Another privacy leader swaps firms as McDermott practice head jumps to Willkie

Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at sara.merken@thomsonreuters.com

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