On March 8, the whistleblower law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto announced that former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Allison Herren Lee has joined the firm as Of Counsel. Lee, who also served as Acting Chair of the SEC, was a staunch supporter of the agency’s whistleblower program during her tenure.
“I look forward to working with Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto and the whistleblowers they represent to bring accountability to Wall Street, protect investors, and ensure that the Dodd-Frank whistleblower programs fully advance the rights of whistleblowers, as intended by Congress,” former Commissioner Lee said. “I am excited at the opportunity to work with internationally recognized experts in whistleblower law and serve the public interest.”
Lee was sworn in as an SEC Commissioner on July 8, 2019, after unanimous confirmation by the Senate. She was appointed Acting Chair of the agency on January 21, 2021. She previously served on the staff of the SEC for over a decade in a variety of different positions, such as Senior Counsel in the Division of Enforcement’s Complex Financial Instruments Unit.
During her time as an SEC Commissioner, Lee repeatedly voiced her support for the whistleblowers and the SEC Whistleblower Program in particular. In September 2020, she stated that whistleblowers “display extraordinary bravery to expose fraud and wrongdoing, and to shine light in some very dark places. She added that “in doing so, they reinforce our fundamental values – that the rule of law matters, and no one is, or should be, above the law.” At the time, Lee also stated that “[s]ince its inception, the Commission’s whistleblower program has enabled us to identify and pursue fraudulent conduct, ongoing regulatory violations, and other wrongdoing that would otherwise have gone undetected.”
Notably, Lee voted in opposition of 2020 rule changes to the SEC Whistleblower Program. In her dissent, she claimed that “[o]ur program today is working well…What is needed is a thoughtful and limited set of amendments to our rules to enhance efficiency and transparency, without detracting from what makes our program such a success. Unfortunately, that is not what this rule offers. Instead of fixing what is broken, we instead run the risk of breaking what works.” Lee raised concerns with the rule changes which echoed concerns raised by whistleblower advocates.
“Allison’s expertise in securities law and how these laws effectively hold fraudsters accountable is unsurpassed. Unquestionably, her willingness to represent whistleblowers will make Wall Street more accountable. Her presence as a legal advocate for whistleblowers will help deter corporate wrongdoing. Our entire team at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto is honored to have the opportunity to work with and learn from her,” said Stephen M. Kohn, a founding partner of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto.