In the past two weeks there have been two interesting articles written about SEC enforcement legend Judge Stanley Sporkin. Judge Sporkin, of course, was the SEC’s second Director of Enforcement, serving in that role for seven years with accomplishments including a leading role in creating the FCPA books and records provision. Judge Sporkin went on to become General Counsel of the CIA, a respected federal judge in Washington, D.C., and a partner in the international law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
On March 25, a post by Bill Henderson on the Legal Whiteboard discussed Judge Sporkin's impact on what some in the securities bar have referred to as “Sporkin’s kids” -- his SEC protégés such as Ed Herlihy, Bill McLucas, and Ralph Ferrera who "went on to become some of the most sought after and influential securities litigation lawyers of their generation." Judge Sporkin told Henderson that rather than focusing on the law school that young lawyers attended, he looked instead for lawyers who would approach their jobs with enthusiasm.
Judge Sporkin said that a relative lack of bureaucracy at the SEC in the 1960-1980s helped him accumulate great talent. He said that when the SEC lacked the budget to hire Ralph Ferrera initially, "Ferrera worked for free until a formal staff position became open. The rest, as they say, is history." (Sporkin, Ferrara and McLucas comprise three of the eight lawyers in Securites Docket's Enforcement Hall of Fame).
In an April 1, BNA article, Judge Sporkin elaborated on how he came to mentor so many subsequently prominent securities lawyers -- who didn’t always hail from top law schools. He said that he hired for the SEC
based on gut feeling, not just how someone looked on paper.
“The most important thing I saw in the person was that they could be my friend, and that we could be colleagues and work together,” Sporkin said. “The person had to be smart and they had to believe in what we were doing.”
Judge Sporkin currently has a solo practice as Ombudsman for BP America, Inc., but that role is reportedly ending in the coming months. BNA reports that Judge Sporkin is interested in continuing to do work for other companies as an ombudsman, or handling investigations for companies -- but nothing that would be a full-time, "9-to-5" endeavor. "I don’t want to get into a high-powered role, he said. "I’ve done it. I don’t want to do it again.”