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Lawyers, Bureaucratic Autonomy, and Securities Regulation During the New Deal

Daniel R. Ernst

Georgetown University Law Center

Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1470934

The federal regulation of financial markets was one of the success stories of the New Deal. It was also the realm of New Deal statebuilding most dominated by lawyers who had either worked in large corporate law firms or had all the credentials to do so but were excluded on grounds of ethnicity, gender or race. Government lawyers looked to the law factories of Wall Street for inspiration as they built bureaucratic autonomy at the Securities and Exchange Commission and gave private practitioners their own stake in securities regulation. The SEC lawyers also learned to address the partisan needs of their allies in Congress, who were as hostile to Eastern capital as they were solicitous of investors, while maintaining the independence that made their agency useful to politicians in the first place. Their experiences are instructive for the architects of financial regulation today.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 29

Keywords: Legal history, Securities regulation, Legal profession

JEL Classification: K22, K20

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Date posted: September 12, 2009 ; Last revised: September 21, 2009

Suggested Citation

Ernst, Daniel R., Lawyers, Bureaucratic Autonomy, and Securities Regulation During the New Deal. Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1470934. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1470934 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1470934

Contact Information

Daniel R. Ernst (Contact Author)
Georgetown University Law Center ( email )
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
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