Daniel M. Gallagher Jr., who graduated from Catholic University’s law school in 1999 and is now its highest-ranking alumnus in the field of securities regulation, was the keynote speaker at the annual Securities Practice Group Alumni Luncheon, held at the Army Navy Club in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 3.
Gallagher was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 21 to serve as one of the five commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission and will be officially sworn-in on Nov. 4, 2011. He is the first graduate of the Columbus School of Law to serve as commissioner for the government’s primary regulatory agency overseeing the securities industry.
His remarks, titled “The Journey of a CUA Graduate in Securities Law,” were delivered before a full room of colleagues and classmates who were clearly proud that a fellow graduate will now hold a five-year appointment as an SEC commissioner.
During the talk Gallagher traced his career arc thus far, and emphasized his support and respect for his law alma mater by sharing stories of his time as a student.
Gallagher has most recently served as a partner in WilmerHale’s securities department and as a member of its broker-dealer compliance and regulation, securities litigation and enforcement, and derivatives and futures practice groups.
The decision to step away from the salary and perks of partnership at a major law firm cannot have been an easy one to make.
“Here’s a guy leaving all of that to come back to do government work. That’s as pure an example of public service as you will see,” said Professor David Lipton, director of the Securities Law Program, from which Gallagher earned a certificate as a student.
The appointment marks a homecoming of sorts for Gallagher. Prior to joining WilmerHale, he was a deputy director of the Division of Trading and Markets at the SEC. During his tenure there, Gallagher played a critical role in the agency’s response to the financial crisis. He worked closely with the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and various international regulators on matters relating to the crisis.
Gallagher does not return to a little-noticed federal agency with an off-the-radar profile. The financial turmoil on Wall Street in recent years has roiled federal regulators as well as the markets, and the SEC’s always present political divisions have been exacerbated since 2008, conflict that has often spilled into newspaper headlines.
Asked how a new Republican commissioner will contribute in today’s difficult environment, Gallagher laid out a thoughtful plan of compromise and conflict resolution, speaking with sincerity, logic and sensitivity.
His eloquent discourse appeared to impress the assembled luncheon guests.
“The law school has consistently turned out graduates who are well trained, highly motivated, and exceptional practitioners,” said Professor Lipton. “Wouldn’t it be fitting if a CUA graduate is the one who brings unity once again to one of the most formidable administrative agencies in Washington?”