William R. Baker III

  • Partner
  • Ewilliam.baker@lw.com
  • 555 Eleventh Street, NW
  • Suite 1000
  • Washington, D.C. 20004-1304
  • USA
  • T +1.202.637.1007


William R. Baker III is the Local Co-Chair of the Litigation & Trial Department in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins. Mr. Baker handles a broad range of business regulatory and corporate governance matters, including representing corporations, auditing and other professional firms, investment banks, and other financial institutions in US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulatory enforcement proceedings. In addition, Mr. Baker conducts internal investigations on behalf of management and boards of directors. He regularly counsels clients on SEC reporting, disclosure, compliance, and corporate governance requirements.

Prior to joining Latham, Mr. Baker was Associate Director of the Division of Enforcement at the SEC, where he worked for 15 years. In that capacity, he was responsible for supervising all types of SEC enforcement activities, including investigations involving issuer accounting fraud and other disclosure violations, insider trading, market manipulation, and broker-dealer misconduct. During his tenure as Associate Director, Mr. Baker led numerous high-profile investigations that resulted in several landmark enforcement actions, including the global settlement in 2000 involving the Commission, Department of Treasury, Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service, National Association of Securities Dealers, and 21 securities firms that resulted in those firms paying a total of US$195 million to resolve claims that the firms charged excessive markups on government securities, and the Commission's action against WorldCom Inc., involving one of the largest financial frauds in history. While at the Commission, he was a recipient of the SEC's Stanley Sporkin Award, awarded by the Chairman of the SEC in recognition of outstanding contributions to the Enforcement program, and of the Commission's Law and Policy Award.

Mr. Baker is consistently recognized as a leading securities litigation lawyer by Chambers USA and The Legal 500 US and is listed as one of the Best Lawyers in Washington by Washingtonian magazine. In the 2020-2022 issues of Benchmark Litigation, he was recognized as a Litigation Star, and in 2017, he was named to BTI Consulting Group’s Client Service All-Star List, which recognizes national leaders in superior client service identified directly by corporate counsel and executives. He is the co-author of "Corporate Internal Investigations after Sarbanes-Oxley" published in Volume II of The Practitioner's Guide to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (American Bar Association 2005) and is a contributor to Securities Law Techniques (Matthew Bender). He was named to the Securities Docket 2013 Enforcement 40 list, which includes the 40 best and brightest securities enforcement defense attorneys in the industry.

He is Co-Chair of the Sub-Committee on SEC Enforcement and Civil Litigation of the American Bar Association Business Law Section and serves on the Advisory Council of the SEC Historical Society. From 2001 2004, Mr. Baker was an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School, where he taught Securities Regulation. He is a frequent speaker and panelist on securities law issues at programs organized by a wide variety of groups, including the American Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar Association, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the Securities Industry Association, The Bond Market Association, the Justice Department's National Advocacy Center, the Practicing Law Institute, Georgetown University Law Center, and Stanford Law School.

After graduating from law school, Mr. Baker clerked for Judge Douglas W. Hillman, United States District Judge for the Western District of Michigan.

Thought Leadership

  • DOJ Announces Policy Changes to “Invigorate” Efforts to Combat Corporate Crime -  October 29, 2021
  • Second Circuit Affirms SEC’s Bank Secrecy Act Powers -  January 08, 2021
  • US Congress Affirms and Expands SEC’s Disgorgement Authority in Annual Defense Spending Bill -  January 04, 2021
  • US Supreme Court Upholds SEC’s Authority to Seek Disgorgement -  June 24, 2020
  • Financial Firms Beware: Dangers Lurk in the Cloud -  November 26, 2019
  • CFTC Enters the Market for Anti-Corruption Enforcement -  March 20, 2019
  • Second Circuit Reinforces FCPA’s Jurisdictional Limits -  August 29, 2018
  • Supreme Court: SEC ALJs Are Officers Subject to Constitution’s Appointments Clause -  July 12, 2018
  • SEC Investigations Guide -  May 01, 2018
  • What the Supreme Court’s Whistleblower Decision Means for Companies -  February 28, 2018
  • Second Circuit Denies Rehearing on Decision Barring Testimony Compelled by Foreign Governments -  December 13, 2017
  • Divided Second Circuit Broadens Personal Benefit Test for Insider Trading Liability -  September 05, 2017
  • Second Circuit: Fifth Amendment Bars Testimony Compelled by Foreign Governments  -  July 31, 2017
  • US Supreme Court: Disgorgement Is a Penalty, Limiting SEC’s Reach -  June 08, 2017
  • CFTC Releases New Enforcement Cooperation Guidelines -  February 14, 2017
  • Supreme Court Revisits Insider-Trading Liability -  December 09, 2016
  • SEC Speaks Conference 2016: Key Takeaways for Public Companies -  February 26, 2016
  • Navigating the SEC’s Proposed Clawback Mandate -  January 01, 2016
  • How to Navigate the SEC’s Proposed Mandate on Clawbacks -  August 04, 2015
  • The Circuits Are Split: Are Tangible Benefits Required for Insider Trading Liability? -  July 10, 2015
  • SEC Enforcement Division Issues Guidance on Venue Selection -  May 18, 2015
  • Securities and Exchange Commission: Critical Issues Facing Public Companies -  April 01, 2015
  • How to Protect Attorney-client Privilege in Internal Investigations -  December 11, 2014
  • Supreme Court’s Halliburton Decision Opens New Line of Defense -  July 07, 2014
  • 6 Steps for Dealing with Potential SEC Whistleblowers -  September 05, 2013
  • SEC Whistleblower Risks: 6 Ways To Avoid Being Targeted by the SEC -  June 10, 2013
  • Encouraging Internal Reporting, and Its Limits -  April 26, 2013
  • SEC Whistleblower Anti-Retaliation Provisions -  February 19, 2013
  • Recent Developments In Recent Developments — Using “Flash” Numbers in Securities Offerings -  June 1, 2011
  • Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. v. Siracusano: Changes in Adverse Event Reporting -  April 7, 2011
  • SEC v. Krantz: Liability of Outside Directors in SEC Enforcement Actions -  March 10, 2011
  • A Tale of Two Clawbacks: The Compensation Consequences of Misstated Financials -  August 10, 2010
  • US Sentencing Commission Approves Proposed Amendments to Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations and Expands and Clarifies the Role of Corporate Compliance and Ethics Programs in Organizational Sentencing -  May 14, 2010
  • The SEC Cooperation Initiatives: New Risks for Public Companies -  April 21, 2010
  • SEC v. Tambone: The First Circuit Declines to Extend Reach of Rule 10b-5(b) to Cover Statements ‘Impliedly’ Made by Underwriters -  March 18, 2010
  • Senior SEC Enforcement Staff Describes Changes at the Division, Reflects on 2009 Performance, and Highlights Priorities for 2010 -  December 10, 2009
  • Merger Arbitrage, Beneficial Ownership Reporting and Proxy Contests: Reflections on the Commission's Perry Order -  October 1, 2009
  • Senior SEC Enforcement Staff Discusses Division Priorities and Challenges: Emphasis on Credit Crisis and FCPA -  December 1, 2008
  • Securities Litigation and Professional Liability Practice, Issue 14 -  2006 In Review
  • Securities Litigation and Professional Liability Practice, Issue 13 -  First Quarter 2006
  • SEC Statement Clarifies Corporate Penalties — a Bit -  March 13, 2006

According to sources:
“He is a spectacular lawyer, very levelheaded, and he has seen and done it all in SEC cases. He is definitely someone you go to for bet-the-company matters.”
Chambers USA 2020

“Clients find his advice ‘absolutely invaluable’ and note that he can ‘explain all the risks in an understandable way.’”
Chambers USA 2016

Bar Qualification
  • District of Columbia
  • JD, Georgetown University Law Center, 1983
  • AB, University of Notre Dame, 1979
  • Energy & Infrastructure
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Financial Institutions
  • Securities Litigation & Professional Liability
  • Litigation & Trial Practice
  • Activism Defense
  • Public Company Representation
  • White Collar Defense & Investigations
  • Corporate Governance