Center on Corporate Governance Hosts Conference on Insider Trading

Fall 2013

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Scholars, judges, prosecutors, and defense counsel convened at Columbia Law School for a daylong conference examining the past, present, and future of the country’s insider trading laws. The event was hosted and sponsored by the Law School’s Center on Corporate Governance, which is directed by John C. Coffee Jr., the Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law. Panelists explored shifting insider trading standards in the U.S. and abroad, discussed the Securities and Exchange Commission’s current view on insider trading, and shared the perspectives of judges and lawyers who participate in these cases.

The conference coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Cady, Roberts decision, which set the precedent that individuals with insider information must disclose it or abstain from buying or selling stock. Attendees also honored longtime Columbia Law School professor William L. Cary, former SEC chairman and author of that landmark administrative opinion. 

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist James B. Stewart served as the conference’s keynote speaker. His lunchtime address was preceded by a speech from Rochester University President Joel Seligman, who detailed the history of insider trading law and discussed Cary’s continuing legacy. 

“Five decades after the publication of Cady, Roberts, the decision endures as among the most fundamental in securities fraud enforcement,” Seligman said.

Other panels throughout the day focused on judicial scrutiny, insider trading incentives and deterrents, the pros and cons of wiretapping, and how the evolution of insider trading laws can create the potential for defendants to win on appeal.

Law School graduates attending the gathering included, among others, Judge Denise L. Cote ’75 of the Southern District of New York; Richard J. Holwell ’70, a former Southern District of New York judge; and Gary P. Naftalis ’67, head of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel’s litigation department.

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Professor John C. Coffee Jr. and panelists at the conference