November 08, 2019

Stephanie Avakian speaking at a luncheon

Catholic Law's Securities Law Program, under the guidance of Program Director and Catholic Law Professor David Lipton, held its Annual Securities Law Luncheon on Thursday, November 7, at the Army Navy Club in downtown Washington. The intimate group of securities law graduates, current securities students, and several members of the securities adjunct faculty, along with Professor Lipton, Dean Stephen C. Payne, and Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the Division of Enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission, mingled together in the welcoming hall—collegially chatting about work and classes.

A group of people talking

As everyone settled into their seats, Professor Lipton stepped up to the podium to make a few opening remarks. Professor Lipton expressed a deep sense of gratitude for those gathered. Looking out at the group around him he shared, “when I am amongst you, I feel a tremendous amount of warmth.” Professor Lipton then donned a pair of “love beads” and invited attendees to take a pair from the table and do the same.

Once everyone had an opportunity to enjoy their meal, Avakian rose to address the group. She spoke about securities enforcement from a deeply personal perspective. Reflecting on her career and the choices she has made that lead her to her current role at the SEC, Avakian lauded her position as “the best job in Washington.” Avakian emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind to opportunities as they come. In law school, she didn’t imagine that she would end up working for the SEC, but her early experiences with the commission and a career in securities provided her with a set of skills that she could use in any position. Now, as the Co-Direct of the Division of Enforcement, she actively applies all of the lessons she has learned along the way.

As the talk wound towards its conclusion, Avakian encouraged students to be flexible in making career decisions. The securities industry is a varied one, one can pick where they want to fit within it. Avakian concluded by offering four important lessons to attendees: seek out mentors and advocates, listen and take feedback, create an environment that encourages people to share their views, and always take chances. With applause and departing hugs, the thirty-sixth Annual Securities Law Luncheon came to a fulfilling and happy conclusion.