I lead BakerHostetler’s firmwide Securities and Governance Litigation Team. Based in the firm’s Seattle and New York City offices, I defend cases around the country for clients around the world.
I defend securities and governance litigation full time. Several years ago, my oldest daughter asked me what I do for a living. I told her all about plaintiffs and defendants and courts and D&O insurance. At the end of my long, proud speech, she said, “So you help some people not give money to other people?” I said, “No!!! I help people through scary situations safely.”
Ever since, I test everything I do against this essential role: Am I improving my clients’ serenity and dignity? Am I making tailored arguments that highlight the best features of their defense? Am I sticking up for their honesty and good faith? Through these and similar questions, I shape strategies and tactics that defend the truth of what they said and their intent to do and say the right thing. I don’t rely on technicalities or gotchas, or engage in self-indulgent strategies.
I also work collegially with my clients’ D&O insurers and brokers in the defense of claims. To say the least, directors and officers don’t want to pay any of their own money in the defense or settlement of claims, and their companies don’t want to pay a penny more than their deductible. Beyond just dollars and cents, working collegially with insurers is strategically essential: the underwriting, placement, and claims professionals who serve our common clients see many times more claims than any defense lawyer, and regularly help me develop winning strategies.
As a full-time securities defense lawyer, I believe I have an obligation to leave securities and governance litigation better than I found it. I work hard to shape securities law in ways that allow executives can speak publicly and make business decisions without fear of unfair liability. In addition to writing this blog, I regularly write articles and speak around the country. On behalf of Washington Legal Foundation, I have authored U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs in the Omnicare, Cyan, and Quality Systems securities class actions. In Omnicare, I contributed to the groundbreaking Supreme Court decision that executives cannot be liable for voicing their honestly held opinions – a position I had long championed.
I have also worked hard to improve the effectiveness and efficiency –the value – of securities and governance litigation defense. To state the obvious, public companies and their directors and officers deserve a superior defense that doesn’t waste policy proceeds. It is possible to achieve both goals, and I have been outspoken in challenging myself and fellow defense lawyers to do better.
I am active in the community. For nine years, I served on the Board of Trustees of the King County Bar Foundation, which funds pro bono legal service programs and minority law student scholarships. I am currently the President of the Board of Trustees of Lake Washington Girls Middle School, and the Co-Chair of its capital campaign, A Home for L-Dub; President of the Board of Directors of Re-Member, a nonprofit organization that serves the Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge, S.D. Reservation, where my family and I volunteer each summer; and serve on the Capital Assets Committee of the Board of Trustees of University Child Development School.