Faculty: Stephen L. Cohen

Steve Cohen 150Stephen L. Cohen is a partner at Sidley Austin LLP.  Stephen has over a decade of experience at the SEC, having most recently served as associate director in the agency’s enforcement division. Stephen advises clients on a broad range of government and internal investigations, enforcement-related litigation, whistleblower complaints, congressional matters, and regulatory and compliance issues, including clients seeking to establish or strengthen compliance programs. He is a member of the Securities & Derivatives Enforcement and Regulatory practice, recognized by Chambers as the “Financial Services Securities Team of the Year” in 2016.

While at the SEC, Stephen oversaw domestic and international enforcement activities involving accounting and disclosure fraud, auditor misconduct, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, insider trading, registered and unregistered securities offerings, market abuses, broker-dealers, investment advisors and other regulated entities.

Examples of these actions include:

  • Fraud charges against a global public company and its former executives for manipulating financial results and concealing considerable problems with the company’s largest government contract, resulting in a $190 million penalty and around $5 million in monetary sanctions against the executives
  • Fraud charges against three brokerage subsidiaries, their former CEOs, and two former employees of a global trading services provider for involvement in a scheme causing clients to pay substantially higher amounts than disclosed for the execution of trading orders
  • Charges against current and former subsidiaries of a large financial corporation that failed in their gatekeeper roles and engaged in unregistered sales of microcap stocks on behalf of their customers
  • Charges against two exchanges for failing to accurately describe the order types being used on the exchanges
  • Fraud charges against the operator of $600 million online pyramid and ponzi scheme and his company, including an emergency asset freeze
  • Charges against a large bank and its former CFO for improper accounting of real estate loans in the midst of the financial crisis, and separate charges involving violations of Regulation FD for selective disclosures related to a share redemption.

In various different contexts, he worked closely with individuals in many federal regulatory and law enforcement agencies, including providing advice and training on enforcement and investigations issues to regulators and law enforcement agencies around the world. He also served as part of a task force with other federal agencies for cybersecurity issues.

Prior to his appointment as associate director, Stephen was a senior advisor to former SEC chairman Mary Schapiro. He was instrumental in advising on legal, policy and administrative matters with a focus on enforcement and compliance, legislative matters and congressional hearings. Stephen led the SEC’s work in relation to the whistleblower provisions in Dodd-Frank and subsequent rulemaking, oversaw the rulemaking establishing a Consolidated Audit Trail, and he directed the creation of the agency’s Tips, Complaints and Referrals system.

Stephen won the SEC’s Distinguished Service Award in 2016, the agency’s highest honor, for his skill in managing one of the division’s most productive groups, bringing many of the commission’s most significant actions, significantly expanding the SEC’s ability to protect investors and driving initiatives that improved the division’s performance. In 2013, he received the Chairman’s Award for Excellence in recognition of his work on the Consolidated Audit Trail rulemaking. Stephen also received the agency’s Law and Policy award in 2011 for his involvement in the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, including the Whistleblower Program.

Before joining the SEC, Stephen handled litigation matters and government investigations at a national law firm. Prior to that, he worked at the Department of Justice as a trial attorney through the Attorney General’s Honors Program after clerking for a federal district judge.

Stephen is a frequent speaker on SEC enforcement and has participated in numerous conferences nationwide.  He has also been interviewed on television news programs, including CNBC and Fox News and programs such as Dateline and American Greed.

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CLE Info and Forms

SEF2014 CLE -sm6.5 hrs CLE credit approved in PA. Forms available here.


Links to materials available here.


When: Thursday, October 26, 2017
7:00 am - 8:15 am (breakfast & registration)
8:15 am - 5:00 pm (followed by cocktail party)
Where: Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
CLE Credit: 6.5 hours (approved in PA)

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