NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Last Updated on: 19th September 2023, 11:41 pm
South Carolina SEC Defense Lawyers: An Inside Look
When companies or individuals in South Carolina find themselves under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), they often turn to experienced SEC defense lawyers for representation. SEC investigations can be stressful and complex, with severe penalties if found guilty of violations. Let’s take an inside look at SEC defense lawyers in South Carolina – who they are, services offered, and key considerations when choosing legal counsel in securities cases.
What is the SEC and What Do They Investigate?
The SEC is a federal agency that enforces laws and regulations related to the securities industry. This includes stocks, bonds, hedge funds, investment advisors, and more. Some common violations the SEC investigates include:
- Insider trading
- Accounting fraud
- Misleading financial statements
- Investment advisor misconduct
- Unregistered securities offerings
SEC investigations can be initiated through routine examinations or when a whistleblower complaint is received. If violations are found, the consequences can range from fines and disgorgement of profits to criminal charges.
Key Skills of SEC Defense Attorneys
When facing an SEC investigation, it’s important to have experienced legal counsel in your corner. Here are some key skills and experience to look for in SEC defense lawyers in South Carolina:
- Knowledge of SEC rules, regulations and enforcement procedures
- Experience representing clients before the SEC
- Ability to respond quickly to document requests and subpoenas
- Skills in building a persuasive case before SEC attorneys
- Expertise in securities-related case law and legal precedents
- Negotiation skills to reach a favorable settlement if appropriate
Prominent SEC Defense Firms in South Carolina
Key Factors in Choosing SEC Defense Counsel
If you are facing an SEC investigation, it’s critical to select the right legal counsel. Here are some key factors to consider:
- Experience – Look for seasoned SEC defense lawyers with a proven track record.
- Resources – Choose a firm with the staffing and financial resources to mount a vigorous defense.
- Responsiveness – Time is of the essence in SEC probes, so responsiveness is crucial.
- Communication – Find lawyers who will keep you informed at every stage.
- Strategy – Opt for counsel who will craft a defense tailored to your specific situation.
- Cost – Balance experience with affordability when comparing SEC lawyers.
Conducting due diligence on defense counsel is key. Schedule consultations with potential SEC lawyers to assess their qualifications and strategy for your case.
The Investigation and Defense Process
Once the SEC opens an investigation, the process typically involves:
- The SEC issues a Formal Order of Investigation allowing staff to subpoena documents and take testimony.
- Document requests and subpoenas for testimony are issued to companies and individuals.
- SEC lawyers take investigative testimonies under oath from witnesses.
- The defense responds to document requests and prepares witnesses for testimony.
- SEC determines whether violations occurred and if enforcement action is appropriate.
- If charged, the defense contests through litigation or negotiates a settlement.
Having experienced SEC defense counsel helps navigate this complex process and mount an effective defense. Counsel can respond to subpoenas, assert legal privileges, examine documents confidentially, and prepare clients for testimony. They look for flaws in the SEC’s case and formulate defense strategies. Settlement negotiations also benefit from skilled legal advice.
Potential Outcomes of an SEC Investigation
There are several potential outcomes of an SEC investigation:
- No Action – If no securities law violations are found, the SEC closes the investigation with no action taken.
- Informal Resolution – The SEC may issue a deficiency letter or take other informal steps to prompt remedial actions.
- Settlement – The SEC and defense lawyers may negotiate a settlement involving sanctions like fines, disgorgement of profits, or bars from the industry.
- Formal SEC Action – If settlement talks fail, the SEC can initiate a formal lawsuit seeking civil penalties and injunctions.
- Criminal Referral – Egregious cases may be referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.
The outcome depends on the strength of the SEC’s case, the severity of the allegations, and the approach taken by defense counsel. SEC settlements usually involve some finding of wrongdoing but avoid litigation. Some cases are dismissed outright if the SEC finds insufficient evidence.
Experienced SEC defense lawyers are key to reviewing the SEC’s findings objectively, formulating counter-arguments, and negotiating a favorable outcome when warranted. They work to control damage to their client’s reputation and limit any sanctions imposed.
When the SEC believes securities law violations have occurred, they often seek settlements with offenders rather than initiating litigation. Some key considerations regarding SEC settlements include:
- Admissions of Wrongdoing – The SEC usually requires the offender admit to some acts, without admitting to the allegations in full.
- Sanctions – Settlements often involve fines, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and bars or suspensions from the industry.
- Cooperation – Settlements may require the offender cooperate with the SEC’s investigation and share information.
- Court Approval – Settlements must be approved by a federal court judge after public notice.
- Reputational Harm – Despite avoiding litigation, settlements still bring public scrutiny and reputational damage.
- Costs – Settling avoids legal costs of litigation but involves paying substantial fines and penalties.
Experienced SEC lawyers advise clients on whether to settle or fight the allegations. Settlements limit penalties and avoid litigation but involve admissions of wrongdoing. Your SEC defense counsel can help negotiate the most favorable settlement terms possible.
If settlement talks fail, the SEC may initiate a formal lawsuit against alleged offenders in federal court. Some key aspects of SEC litigation include:
- Venue – The SEC files suit in the judicial district where the violations occurred.
- ALJs – The SEC may use Administrative Law Judges for certain cases rather than federal court.
- Relief Sought – Lawsuits typically seek injunctions, civil fines, disgorgement of profits, and bars from working in the industry.
- Burden of Proof – The SEC must establish violations by a “preponderance of the evidence.”
- Discovery – Both sides obtain evidence through depositions, interrogatories, and document requests.
- Costs – Defending an SEC lawsuit through trial can cost millions in legal fees.
- Reputational Harm – Litigation brings public scrutiny even if no charges are proven.
Experienced SEC defense counsel can argue to convince regulators to drop unfounded charges or defeat charges at trial. But litigation substantially increases costs, risks, and potential penalties if found liable.
Working With Defense Counsel
Here are some tips for working effectively with your SEC defense lawyers during an investigation or litigation:
- Be Proactive – Retain counsel at the first sign of an SEC investigation.
- Be Transparent – Provide counsel will complete facts so they can mount the best defense.
- Move Quickly – Respond to SEC requests urgently to avoid charges of obstruction.
- Stay Calm – Avoid rash actions and let your lawyers interface with SEC attorneys.
- Follow Advice – Listen to counsel’s recommendations rather than acting unilaterally.
- Keep Communicating – Have regular status calls with your legal team.
- Be Realistic – Accept likely outcomes and don’t let emotions drive decisions.
Working cooperatively with skilled SEC defense counsel gives you the best chance of a favorable outcome. Be open, responsive, and keep your lawyers fully informed throughout the process.
Finding the Right SEC Defense Attorney
Here are some tips for finding the right SEC defense lawyer for your case:
- Ask business associates for referrals to qualified SEC litigators.
- Search lawyer directories like Martindale-Hubbell for experienced securities counsel.
- Look for lawyers with specific SEC defense expertise, not just general litigators.
- Search for lawyers with experience handling your type of violation.
- Seek out firms with veteran SEC defense partners.
- Consider boutique securities law firms as well as big national firms.
- Interview multiple lawyers before selecting counsel.
The stakes are high in SEC probes, so it’s worth taking time to research and choose the right defense lawyer or law firm. Be sure to ask about their specific SEC experience, defense record, and fees.
The Benefits of Hiring SEC Defense Counsel
Here are some of the top benefits of retaining experienced SEC defense lawyers:
- They know SEC rules, procedures, and investigative practices inside and out.
- They can compellingly argue why charges shouldn’t be brought.
- They can negotiate reduced sanctions if violations did occur.
- They can defend vigorously if the SEC initiates litigation.
- They can critique the SEC’s case for flaws.
- They have working relationships with SEC enforcement attorneys.
- They can advise at every stage of the process to contain damage.