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Linda Chatman Thomsen

Ms. Thomsen, who was the first woman to serve as the Director of the Division of Enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission, is a partner in Davis Polk’s Litigation Department and practices in the Washington DC office. Her practice concentrates in matters related to the enforcement of the federal securities laws.

She has represented clients in SEC enforcement investigations and inquiries, in enforcement matters before other agencies, including the Department of Justice (various U.S. Attorneys Offices) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, in investigations and inquiries from self-regulatory agencies, including FINRA, and in internal investigations. 

These matters, which are typically nonpublic, have covered a broad range of securities-related subject matters, including insider trading, foreign corrupt practices, financial reporting, manipulation and regulatory compliance. Her clients have included major financial institutions, regulated entities, public companies and senior executives. 

Ms. Thomsen returned to Davis Polk in 2009 after 14 years of public service at the SEC. While there she held a variety of positions and ultimately served as the Director of Enforcement from 2005 through February 2009. During her tenure as the Director of Enforcement, she led the Enron investigation, the auction rate securities settlements, the stock options backdating cases and the expansion of the enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Work Highlights

Ms. Thomsen has been at the forefront of high-profile matters relating to:

  • High-frequency trading
  • Mortgage-backed securities
  • The "princelings" investigations
  • Analyst surveys and alpha-capture programs
  • Trading-surveillance policies and procedures
  • Market disruptions
  • FCPA violations
  • The sovereign wealth fund business

Her recent public representations include:

  • Liquidnet, a dark pool, in connection with an SEC investigation into the use of confidential customer data, in a matter resolved with a non-fraud settlement
  • MF Global's independent directors in connection with all litigation and investigations surrounding MF Global's well-publicized failure and bankruptcy
  • A major financial institution in connection with inquiries by the SEC related to a $3.7 billion capital-reporting error 
  • The board of directors of Direct Edge in connection with an SEC multidisciplinary inquiry relating to potential violations concerning technology, information security, securities compliance and governance 
  • McGraw Hill Financial, Inc. and Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC in connection with lawsuits brought by the SEC, DOJ and Attorneys General of numerous states concerning the ratings of residential mortgage-backed securities
  • Two stock exchanges, EDGA and EDGX, formerly owned by Direct Edge Holdings and since acquired by BATS Global Markets in connection with an investigation by the SEC related to high-frequency trading

Many of Ms. Thomsen's most successful matters have not resulted in public charges and therefore remain confidential.


  • Ms. Thomsen is consistently recognized for her work by several leading industry publications, including:
    • Chambers USA

    • Benchmark Litigation

    • Legal 500 U.S.

    • Best Lawyers in America

    • Securities Docket's “Enforcement 40,” 2013

    • The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement “Distinguished Legal Writing Award,” 2012

    • Washington Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business,” 2010

    • Ethisphere’s “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics,” 2009

    • Wall Street Journal’s “The 50 Women to Watch,” 2005 and 2006

    Professional History

    • Partner, Davis Polk, 2009-present
    • Securities and Exchange Commission: served for 14 years in the Enforcement Division as Director (2005-2009), Deputy Director (2002-2005), Associate Director (2000-2002), Assistant Director (1997-2000), Assistant Chief Litigation Counsel (1995-1997)
    • Counsel, Davis Polk, 1989-1995
    • Associate, Davis Polk, 1979-1983; 1985-1989


    • 901 15th Street, N.W.
      Washington, DC 20005
      P: 202-962-7125
      F: 202-962-7098
    • 450 Lexington Avenue
      New York, NY10017
      P: 212-450-4403
      F: 212-701-5403

    Bar Admissions

    • District of Columbia
    • State of New York
    • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia


    • A.B., Smith College, 1976
      • with high honors
    • J.D., Harvard Law School, 1979