May 05, 2021

Alex Oh’s abrupt departure from the Securities and Exchange Commission just one week after stepping into the role of Head of the Enforcement Division has raised a lot of questions within the legal community. While the reason for the departure isn’t fully known at this time, some consider possible sanctions in an Exxon Mobile case that Oh and other attorneys at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Graham worked on as the potential reason. In a May 4 article in The National Law Journal, Catholic Law Professor Emerita Leah Wortham, who has worked extensively on legal ethics, gave her thoughts on Oh’s departure. Wortham commented that the pending discovery rule sanctions in the Exxon Mobile litigation likely would not result in bar discipline and hence would not have blocked Oh from her work at the SEC.

The National Law Journal
By: Jacqueline Thomsen
Date: May 4, 2021
Zealous Advocacy Meets Corporate Criticism: What happened With Paul Weiss’ Alex Oh and the SEC?


“Lawyer discipline rules require lawyers to ‘play by the rules’ in discovery, expedite litigation, and avoid frivolous claims and disputing of others’ assertions,” Wortham said.

Wortham noted that drawing the line between legitimate advocacy and improper conduct is more often addressed by sanctions under the civil procedure rules than lawyer discipline because the trial judge is best situated to judge factual issues in the context of contentious litigation.

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