Cooley LLP

Today, the SEC announced that Renee Jones has been appointed as the new Director of Corp Fin, replacing Acting Corp Fin Director John Coates, who will become SEC General Counsel. Both appointments are effective June 21, 2021.

Most recently, Jones was a Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Boston College Law School, teaching classes in corporations, securities regulation, startup company governance and financial regulation. Prior to that, she was a corporate and securities attorney at Hill & Barlow. According to her Boston College Law School bio, her “scholarship focuses on corporate governance and the federal-state relationship in corporate regulation. She also writes about the impact of enforcement practices on corporate ethics and integrity. Her recent article, The ‘Unicorn Governance Trap,’ published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online, highlights the risks posed by the increasing number of unicorns (private companies valued at $1 billion or more) to investors, employees, consumers and society.” According to the WSJ, in the article, “Ms. Jones wrote that private companies valued over $1 billion—known as unicorns—had been able to escape ‘governance structures and practices appropriate for enterprises of their scale.’ She partly blamed deregulatory measures, some of them mandated by Congress, which made going public ‘increasingly obsolete.’” The article was published in 2017, well before the current IPO boom.

Coates, who has been Acting Corp Fin Director since February 2021, was the John F. Cogan Professor of Law and Economics at Harvard University, where he also served as Vice Dean for Finance and Strategic Initiatives. He was previously a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.   Prior to becoming Acting Corp Fin Director, he was an active member on the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee, where he was the principal author of a number of Committee recommendations.  He is the author of “The Problem of Twelve,” which Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine describes as the “likelihood that in the near future roughly twelve individuals will have practical power over the majority of U.S. public companies.”  (See this PubCo post.)

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