JAN. 30, 2024 – Building on its national reputation for excellence in securities enforcement defense, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP has added Barry O'Connell as a partner in the firm's New York office. O'Connell brings to the firm more than a decade of experience at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, including as senior enforcement counsel in the Market Abuse Unit. He was most recently a federal prosecutor.
"Barry is going to be an extraordinary asset for clients facing white-collar investigations, prosecutions, and enforcement actions," said Elizabeth Davis, co-chair of the financial services practice at Davis Wright. "He has in-depth knowledge of how high-stakes investigations are conducted, both civil and criminal, and outstanding expertise in the handling of securities law matters in particular. He will significantly strengthen our regulatory enforcement bench."
"Barry brings a rich cross-section of experiences to a white-collar defense practice and will provide our clients with exceptional advocacy and insight," said financial services co-chair Bradford Hardin. "His collaborative outlook also makes him a perfect fit for our team culture. We're delighted to have him on board."
O'Connell has led numerous trials involving investment adviser fraud, securities-offering fraud, and broker-dealer audit failures. He's also handled many high-profile insider trading and market manipulation settlements. Over his career at the SEC, O'Connell charged one of the agency's largest-ever actions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, charged one of the first federal prosecutions of a manipulation tactic known as "layering," and represented the agency in several heavily litigated matters, including summary judgment motions, trials, and appeals.
Prior to joining the SEC's Market Abuse Unit, O'Connell served in the Enforcement Division's Asset Management Unit and in the agency's policy section, the Division of Trading and Markets, where he helped draft the most closely watched Dodd-Frank regulation of the time, concerning conflicts of interest in asset-backed securities.
During his final year with the SEC, O'Connell served as Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, handling insider trading, conspiracy, and money laundering cases as a member of the Business and Securities Fraud Section. He later joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey, prosecuting a variety of violent crime and drug offenses.
"I'm thrilled to bring my years of government experience to work on behalf of Davis Wright's top-of-market financial services practice," said O'Connell. "The current regulatory climate indicates that the need for enforcement defense will only continue to ramp up, and I can't imagine a better opportunity for me to deploy my skills than with the extraordinary clients and unparalleled team at Davis Wright."
O'Connell added: "The firm's commitment to DEI and social impact has remained rock-solid throughout this time of tumult and challenge, and that too has made a big impression on me. I look forward to playing an active role with Davis Wright's affinity group for LGBTQ+ attorneys and fusing a cutting-edge white collar practice with a purposeful pro bono practice, to the mutual benefit of both."
O'Connell received his B.S. from Cornell University and his J.D. from Cornell Law School. He began his legal career as an associate at Goodwin Procter LLP in Boston.
About Davis Wright Tremaine
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is an AmLaw 100 law firm with more than 600 lawyers representing clients based throughout the United States and around the world. With eight of the 10 largest banks and a half-dozen of the leading fintechs among its clients, Davis Wright's financial services group helps clients solve regulatory problems, innovate, and drive business forward. Learn more about the financial services practice at www.dwt.com/fs.