Broker-Dealers and Investment Advisers

McGuireWoods’ experienced broker-dealers and investment advisers regulatory compliance and defense team guides clients through the complex and continually evolving issues confronting the securities industry. The team is composed of former government insiders and senior in-house counsel, as well as accomplished litigators who have achieved exceptional results for their clients.

Our attorneys stay apprised of proposed and newly adopted laws, rules and interpretations, to help ensure that our clients are in compliance with their regulatory obligations. We advise on a range of issues, including research, sales and trading practices, fiduciary duty, structured products, supervisory controls, registration, order and trade reporting, soft dollars, information barriers, conflicts of interest, and insider trading. We regularly conduct internal investigations and audits, advise clients on establishing and strengthening compliance and supervisory programs, and provide training to clients’ employees.

On the defense front, we represent clients involved in regulatory examinations and investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Department of Justice (DOJ), Congress, state attorneys general, and other federal and state civil and criminal regulators. Our national litigation team vigorously defends brokerage firms and their employees against claims relating to fraud, suitability, negligence, trading errors, selling away, breach of contract, trade secrets and corporate raiding.

In addition to subject matter experience, litigation and government investigations often require large-scale document collection and review. Discovery on these matters is handled efficiently and cost effectively through our Discovery Counsel Services (DCS) practice. Led by McGuireWoods attorneys, DCS includes stand-alone e-discovery facilities that can house up to 220 contract attorneys using state-of-the-art technology.

Regulatory Compliance

Brokers-dealers, investment advisers, hedge funds, banks and issuers regularly seek our advice on the full spectrum of regulatory, business and compliance issues. Because we have looked at securities issues from the viewpoint of the government, in-house counsel and private practice, we have an in-depth understanding of the industry and markets.

We have counseled clients on a range of regulatory issues, including investment banking activities; research, sales and trading practices; supervisory controls; registration; order and trade reporting; statutory disqualifications; referral agreements; information barriers; conflicts of interest; issuer repurchases; prime brokerage; Regulation S-P; subordinated loan agreements; soft dollars; anti-money laundering; and insider trading.

We also work closely with clients on the structure and sale of new securities products to comply with regulatory requirements. Our team also regularly conducts internal investigations and audits, which helps clients strengthen compliance and supervisory programs, or prepare for regulatory examinations.

Inquiries and Investigations

Representation of clients in securities-related inquiries and investigations presents distinct challenges. It also requires strategies different from those typically employed in civil or commercial disputes. The mere initiation of an enforcement action by a regulator can cause extensive harm to a client’s reputation or business prospects. Attorneys handling these matters require unique approaches and skill-sets in order to best position clients’ interests from the first document request to the ultimate resolution.

Our team members bring broad perspectives and practical approaches to advising clients, having spent many years with government agencies, in private practice, and in senior in-house legal positions. We draw on this experience to help clients negotiate an increasingly complex array of regulatory requirements. Our attorneys hail from the SEC’s Divisions of Enforcement and Trading and Markets, FINRA’s Enforcement Department, Market Regulation and Member Regulation and NASDAQ’s Regulatory Group.

We have extensive experience representing clients in enforcement investigations and proceedings initiated by the SEC, FINRA, NYSE Regulation, and other state and federal regulators. We have experience representing clients at every stage of these matters – from informal inquiries through investigations, disciplinary proceedings and appeals. We also defend individual and institutional clients in parallel investigations by state and federal criminal authorities.


The pressures and challenges confronted by companies conducting business in these times of heightened public awareness and increased SEC scrutiny require the counsel of experienced securities litigation attorneys. McGuireWoods has significant experience in national securities litigation that extends to numerous representations of broker-dealers, investment advisers, banks and issuers.

Clients have trusted our ability to represent them in matters before federal and state courts, the Center for Multi-district Litigation, FINRA and AAA arbitrations and mediations. Our experience encompasses all aspects of the expanding services offered by financial institutions, including recent cases involving securities fraud, sales practice violations, ERISA investment standards, failed asset securitizations and defaulted syndicated loans.

Team Leaders

Full Team
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