White Collar

Defense Attorneys in SEC Enforcement Investigations

By: Lucosky Brookman
Defense Attorneys in SEC Enforcement Investigations


In a recent address at the Securities Enforcement Forum West Conference, Gurbir Grewal, the Director of the Division of Enforcement for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), made headlines by discussing the role of defense attorneys in enforcement investigations. His comments have sparked a dialogue about the responsibilities of both defense counsel and the SEC's investigative staff.

The Issue of "Gamesmanship"

Grewal initially criticized defense attorneys for engaging in tactics that seemed designed solely to delay SEC investigations. He emphasized that such behavior erodes the trust between defense counsel and the SEC's investigative staff, which is crucial for a fair and expedient resolution of matters.

A Balanced Perspective

However, in a subsequent "fireside chat" at the same conference, Grewal clarified his stance. He stated that the onus is not solely on defense attorneys; the SEC's investigative staff also needs to act in good faith. He cautioned against a "gotcha" mentality and stressed the importance of straightforwardness and robust discussions throughout the investigative process.

The Need for Improvement on Both Sides

Grewal acknowledged that both defense attorneys and the SEC's investigative staff need to do better. He criticized dilatory tactics that obstruct the SEC's truth-seeking mission and delay investigations, which ultimately harms all parties involved. He urged for a more collaborative approach to expedite the investigative process.

The Implications

It remains to be seen how Grewal's comments will impact the behavior of the SEC's investigative staff. However, defense counsel and their clients have reason to be optimistic that a more balanced and efficient approach to investigations may be on the horizon.


Grewal's remarks serve as a timely reminder that both defense counsel and the SEC's investigative staff have a role to play in ensuring a fair and efficient enforcement process. It is in everyone's interest to act in good faith and strive for a quick and just resolution.