Allison Herren Lee’s practice focuses on representing whistleblowers reporting securities, commodities, banking and capital markets law violations, including a focus on ESG, governance/audit, securities law, and whistleblowers.
Before joining Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto as Of Counsel, Lee was appointed by President Donald Trump to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and sworn into office on July 8, 2019. In January 2021, she was appointed by President Biden as Acting Chair of the Commission and served in that role through April of 2021. She then continued to serve as a commissioner until she stepped down in July 2022.
Throughout her tenure as Commissioner and her service as Acting Chair, she emphasized the need for fulsome and accurate disclosures so that investors have the information they need in pricing risk and allocating capital. She highlighted the need for market participants to maintain the highest ethical standards, and quickly moved to make climate change risk and ESG a top SEC priority. As the SEC’s Acting Chair, Lee helped propel ESG issues to the forefront of the agency’s agenda. Among other things, she hired a senior policy adviser for ESG and launched an enforcement task force to evaluate and pursue tips, referrals, and whistleblower complaints on ESG-related issues. She was a champion for stronger whistleblower protections and individual accountability for violations of securities laws.
Prior to her tenure as Commissioner, Lee spent over two decades as a securities law practitioner. She wrote, lectured, and taught courses internationally in Spain and Italy on financial regulation and corporate law. Commissioner Lee served for over a decade in various roles at the SEC, including as counsel to Commissioner Kara Stein and as Senior Counsel in the Division of Enforcement’s Complex Financial Instruments Unit. In addition, she has served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, was a member of the American Bar Association’s former Committee on Public Company Disclosure, and participated in a USAID project in Armenia, assisting in the drafting of periodic reporting and disclosure provisions for a comprehensive law of the Republic of Armenia on Securities Market Regulation.
Before government service, Commissioner Lee was a partner at Sherman & Howard LLC, focusing on securities, antitrust, and commercial litigation. A member of the Colorado bar, she holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Colorado and a JD from the University of Denver College of Law, where she was salutatorian, a Chancellor’s Scholar, and served on the Law Review.
In addition to her role with Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto, Commissioner Lee is an Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at NYU Law’s Institute for Corporate Governance and Finance.
- Whistleblowers Fight Tremendous Odds and Deserve Better (September 23, 2020)
- SEC’s Leading ESG Advocate Lee Headed to New York University (June 16, 2022)
- Statement by Commissioner Lee on ESG Disclosures Proposal (March 26, 2022)
A Sustainable Future Podcast
- SEC Commissioner Allison Herren Lee on the ESG Trinity: Disclosure, Materiality and Enforcement (October 12, 2021)
Allison Herren Lee Sworn In As SEC Commissioner
“Allison’s expertise in securities law, including from her prior tenure at the Commission, will be invaluable to our efforts to advance the interests of investors and our markets.” – Chairman Jay Clayton, July 9, 2019
Statement on Departure of Commissioner Allison Herren Lee
“She has been a champion for stronger climate disclosures, whistleblower protections, and individual accountability for violations of the securities laws.” – Gary Gensler and commissioners Hester M. Peirce, Caroline A. Crenshaw, Mark T. Uyeda
President Joseph Biden appoints Allison Herren Lee as Acting Chair of the SEC
Excerpts from the Statement of SEC Commissioners Upon Commissioner Lees Departure from the SEC
Commissioner Lee joined the Commission in 2005 as a staff attorney in the Enforcement Division in the Denver Regional Office… As a staff attorney she brought important actions vindicating the rights of investors, including noteworthy resolutions against those who committed fraud in the sale of residential mortgage backed securities…
Throughout her tenure as Commissioner and her service as Acting Chair, she has advanced the interests of investors, and our markets. She has emphasized the need for fulsome and complete disclosures, so that investors have the information they need in choosing where to invest. Commissioner Lee has been a stalwart advocate for strong and stable markets, including by emphasizing the need for market participants to maintain the highest ethical standards. She has been a champion for stronger climate disclosures, whistleblower protections, and individual accountability for violations of the securities laws.
See full statement on Departure of Commissioner Allison Herren Lee
For an overview of Allison Lees ranging expertise in securities law, see practice areas, which includes commissioner on topics such as audit, buybacks, consumer protection, cybersecurity, derivatives, governance, exchange-traded products, insider trading, materiality, SPACS, SWAPS, and the Volcker Rule.
“In recent times, it seems that nearly every day has provided us with an opportunity to appreciate the contributions of whistleblowers. Often, they [whistleblowers] display extraordinary bravery to expose fraud and wrongdoing, and to shine light in some very dark places. In doing so, they reinforce our fundamental values – that the rule of law matters, and no one is, or should be, above the law. All too often, sometimes very publicly and sometimes in the shadows, those whistleblowers face retaliation from the powerful figures they expose. They help create transparency, and from transparency flows crucial accountability.”
Whistleblowers Fight Tremendous Odds and Deserve Better
Statement by Allison as SEC Commissioner, September 23, 2020