Lawyers working on white collar cases

Debevoise and Plimpton LLP is a New York-based law firm that serves an international clientele. One of the partners in its white-collar practice group, Sean Hecker, has been featured in an interview for Law360. A member of Debevoise and Plimpton since 2006, Mr. Hecker is particularly concerned with civil and criminal cases that involve the pharmaceutical industry as well as with security issues concerning the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
In the Law360 interview Mr. Hecker was asked to name an important issue in his practice. He immediately cited the FCPA and what he considers the overly-aggressive manner in which the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission prosecute both organizations and individuals who they believe have infringed its restrictions. The FCPA specifies that, in enforcing its rules, the DOJ and the SEC have “territorial jurisdiction” over all those who commit offenses using the mails or “any means of interstate commerce.” The DOJ and the SEC have chosen to interpret the extent of their territorial jurisdiction in a very aggressive and expansive way, including the use of email and wire transfers involving U.S. servers and banks. Mr. Hecker stated that cases challenging this aggressive application of the FCPA and demanding greater restraint from the DOJ and the SEC are going to be frequent occurrences in the near future.
When asked to identify his most challenging case, Mr. Hecker named a two-year project on behalf of Siemens AG’s Compliance Committee, in which he was part of a team carrying out an internal investigation concerning charges of corruption. The project required a great deal of travel, not only to Europe but to Asia and Africa as well. Because of the global nature of the inquiry, there were a number of different legal systems in a variety of languages involved. The fact that there was a two-year limit to the investigation also made it a great challenge, but one that was ultimately rewarding.
Sean Hecker’s area of expertise is white-collar crime, so when asked what aspect of this area is most in need of reform, he readily pointed out the need for sentencing reform. Put simply, judges have too much discretion in assigning length of incarceration; in addition, many convictions bring mandatory minimum sentences. This results in prison sentences that are far too long, especially in the case of white-collar crime.
Mr. Hecker identified Andy Schapiro of Quinn Emanuel as an attorney who has made a great impression upon his career. When asked to point out a learning experience from his past, he pointed to an occasion when he spoke too quickly when the course of the trial was moving in favor of his client.