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Columbia Law School

2003

Law and Economics

Columbia Law Review

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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Attorney As Gatekeeper: An Agenda For The Sec, John C. Coffee Jr. Jan 2003

The Attorney As Gatekeeper: An Agenda For The Sec, John C. Coffee Jr.

Faculty Scholarship

Section 307 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act authorizes the SEC to prescribe "minimum standards of professional conduct" for attorneys "appearing or practicing" before it. Although the initial debate has focused on issues of confidentiality, this terse statutory provision frames and seemingly federalizes a much larger question: What is the role of the corporate attorney in public securities transactions? Is the attorney's role that of (a) an advocate, (b) a transaction cost engineer, or, more broadly, (c) a gatekeeper – that is, a reputational intermediary with some responsibility to monitor the accuracy of corporate disclosures? Skeptics of any gatekeeper role for attorneys ...