On November 26, 2012, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro announced that she will step down on Dec. 14, 2012. The announcement sparked speculation that her chief lieutenants might follow suit, and the flood gates have opened this week.

Yesterday, Division of Corporation Finance Director Meredith Cross announced that she will leave the SEC at the end of the year to return to the private sector. announced her imminent departure. Cross has led Corp Fin since June 2009. Today, two more high-level departures were announced: Mark D. Cahn, the agency's General Counsel, and Robert W. Cook, Director of the SEC's Division of Trading and Markets.

The SEC stated that Cahn, who has served as the SEC's General Counsel since February 2011, will leave the agency at the end of the year to return to the private sector. Among other reponsibilities, Cahn helped develop the SEC's rules to establish its Whistleblower Program, and advised on rulemaking pursuant to Dodd-Frank. Previously, Cahn served as the SEC's Deputy General Counsel for two years. Prior to joining the SEC in 2009, Cahn was a partner at the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.

In a separate announcement, the SEC stated that Cook will be departing the agency, but has agreed to remain with the Commission for a "transitional period" in order to help ensure continuity. Cook joined the SEC in January 2010, and helped oversee the implementation of significant rulemaking under Dodd-Frank and the JOBS Act. Prior to joining the SEC, Cook was a partner at the law firm Cleary Gottlieb.