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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 2020-2023 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.