What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I’m a Principal Counsel in the Enforcement Department of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA is an independent, not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to protect investors through regulation of the securities industry.
I came to work at FINRA this April, after nine and a half years practicing law at two large law firms in New York. For five years, I did mostly defense work at a large firm, focusing on financial services litigation and regulatory investigations. Then, I transitioned to another firm and did mostly plaintiff’s litigation work, again focusing on the financial industry. I also handled a large range of other types of cases while working at both law firms—everything from antitrust to contract disputes to labor and employment to matrimonial and family law. My experiences in the private sector gave me a solid foundation and training for what I do today.
What is the biggest challenge of your work?
Every matter is individual and contains a different set of legal and factual issues. There is a wide array of products offered in the financial industry, and the facts of every case are different. In a way, it’s no different from the challenge that a lawyer in private practice faces when starting on a new case.
What is your proudest achievement?
Last year, I had the experience of working on a complex federal jury trial. Jury trials in federal court are relatively rare these days—most cases settle due to the uncertainty of litigation. But we had a great team and a great client, and we felt confident about our chances. It took months of preparation, and then three weeks of seventeen-hour days in trial, but we were able to achieve a complete jury verdict for our client. The experience helped me build my public speaking skills, and validated for me the oft-told maxim that good things eventually come to those who put their heads down and work.
What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
I’ve learned the most from people who resolutely lead their organizations and teams with integrity, while making sure that each employee is contributing and feels valued.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In a position where I continue to be challenged, and wake up in the morning excited to go to work.
Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else? How has that experience changed you?
Throughout my career, several individuals have taken their own personal time to improve my skills and help me advance my career. My abilities as a lawyer are shaped by their mentorship and I have tried to do the same with those I have worked with and mentored.
What do you hope to gain from your CUP Fellows Program experience to help you make a significant and positive impact in your community?
The CUP Fellows Program is more than a community of individuals from varied backgrounds, life experiences and occupations. CUP has introduced me to exceptional people and new friends. By spending time with other CUP Fellows, I have learned a bit more about life, about the world, and how to both navigate the challenges of and contribute to that world.