John Hartigan is sometimes called the "lawyer's lawyer" for his extensive experience, his prodigious work habits and his position as managing partner and member of the governing board of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, the nation's fourth-largest law firm.
Other securities industry lawyers even judges are known to seek Hartigan's counsel.
"Recently, I was arguing a fine point of securities law before a federal judge on the East Coast," said Brian McCarthy, himself an experienced securities lawyer with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in downtown Los Angeles. "And the judge looked at me, and said, 'You know, we ought to run this by John Hartigan.' "
After graduating from Georgetown University law school, Hartigan in 1975 joined the Securities and Exchange Commission, eventually becoming the assistant director in its enforcement division.
He joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in 1984. In addition to running the L.A. office, Hartigan is chairman of the broker-dealer subcommittee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, among many other professional affiliations.
Question: Why practice securities law from Los Angeles, and not New York or Washington, where Morgan, Lewis & Bockius also has major offices?
Answer: From a professional standpoint, Los Angeles back (in 1984) was emerging as the financial capital of the West Coast, and a gateway to the Pacific Rim. Morgan Lewis & Bockius had been here for seven years, and I was looking to establish a very proactive securities practice here. It was a unique opportunity.
I remember a Herb Caen column (in the San Francisco Chronicle) back then that (Los Angeles-based) Security Pacific had just acquired (San Francisco-based) Crocker, and that San Francisco was dying as a financial center.
Additionally, my wife was a fourth or fifth generation Californian her ancestors founded the town of Whittier and so we wanted to be here, and not New York.
Washington D.C. is a superb office, but more involved in regulatory issues, and I wanted to be involved with business, and clients.
Q. What is a heavy area of work for you now?
A. Mergers and acquisitions. We are seeing a lot of general corporate counseling, but there has been a tremendous resurgence of M & A; work. In particular, you have banks looking at acquiring broker-dealers (securities firms), banks that want to buy mutual funds, and they need advice on compliance with a whole panoply of duties and obligations, and regulatory matters.
Q. What area of securities law do you expect to heat up next? Where will we see the enforcement actions?
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