Michael Liftik is Co-Chair of Quinn Emanuel’s SEC Enforcement practice, and Co-Managing Partner of the Washington, D.C. office. His practice focuses on government and internal investigations, regulatory enforcement defense, securities litigation, cryptocurrencies, congressional investigations, crisis management, and cybersecurity. Michael has extensive experience as a securities litigator, having worked on matters stemming from major securities regulatory crises, including market timing and late trading, stock options backdating, and the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Michael spent nearly a decade at the Securities and Exchange Commission where he developed a unique depth of knowledge working on enforcement and regulatory matters at all levels of the Commission. Michael has appeared on CNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg TV and has frequently been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times for his expertise on these topics.
Michael brings his deep understanding of the securities laws and investigative processes to his representation of public and private companies, senior executives, asset managers, and broker-dealers before the SEC, FINRA, CFTC, DOJ, Congress, and in related civil litigation. Michael also advises hedge funds and private equity funds on compliance issues, including during SEC examinations. Michael litigates in federal and state courts around the country in securities class actions, disputes involving the financial services industry, and matters requiring a sophisticated understanding of complex financial products. Michael leads internal investigations in accounting and financial reporting matters, cybersecurity breaches, and highly sensitive employment issues, and regularly assists clients in crisis management and public affairs responses to mission critical matters.
Prior to joining the firm, Michael was the Deputy Chief of Staff of the SEC, where he served as a senior legal advisor to Chair Mary Jo White on all aspects of the SEC’s operations, including enforcement, regulatory policy, compliance exams, agency strategy and direction, as well as the day-to-day management of the agency. Michael also served as Chair White’s deputy to the Financial Stability Oversight Council and was responsible for working with senior staff from other financial regulatory agencies on identifying risks and emerging threats to the financial stability of the United States. He was also responsible for assisting the Chair in developing the agency’s policies on cybersecurity disclosure and data protection for registered entities and public companies. He led the SEC’s initial efforts to analyze areas where emerging financial technologies intersect with securities regulation, and directed the organization of the SEC’s first Fintech Forum.
Before serving as Deputy Chief of Staff, Michael was Chair White's Senior Advisor on Enforcement, counseling the Chair on enforcement cases and policy matters. Prior to his service in the Chair’s office, Michael was Counsel to the Director of the Division of Enforcement. He began his career at the SEC in San Francisco as an Enforcement Division staff attorney where he investigated and litigated a wide range of securities law violations, including FCPA, insider trading, financial and accounting fraud, and complex offering frauds. He was a member the Asset Management Unit, which is an enforcement group focused on cases involving investment advisers, private funds, and investment companies. From January to April 2017, Michael served as the Acting Chief of the Complex Financial Instruments Unit, where he oversaw 45 attorneys and industry experts in offices across the country that investigate potential misconduct related to complex financial products, such as structured notes, asset-backed securities, and derivatives, and practices involving sophisticated market issues, such as fixed income trading and illiquid asset valuations.
Before joining the SEC in 2007, Michael was in private practice focusing on securities litigation, white collar criminal defense, and internal investigations. He received a J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School and an A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard College.
- Harvard Law School
(J.D., cum laude, 2000)
- Won Ames Moot Court Competition
- Harvard University
(A.B., magna cum laude, Social Studies, 1996)
- The Bar of the District of Columbia
- The State Bar of California
- The State Bar of Massachusetts
- United States Courts of Appeals:
- First Circuit
- Ninth Circuit
- United States District Courts:
- Central District of California
- Northern District of California
- Southern District of California
- District of Columbia
- District of Massachusetts
- United States Securities and Exchange Commission:
- Acting Chief, Complex Financial Instruments Unit, Division of Enforcement, 2017
- Deputy Chief of Staff, 2015-2017
- Senior Advisor to the Chair, 2013-2015
- Counsel to the Director of the Division of Enforcement, 2012-2013
- Attorney, Division of Enforcement, 2007-2013
- Heller Ehrman LLP:
- Associate, 2004-2007
- Associate, 2004-2007
- Hill & Barlow P.C. / Piper Rudnick LLP:
- Associate, 2003-2004
- Associate, 2003-2004
- Law Clerk to the Honorable Denise R. Johnson:
- Vermont Supreme Court, 2000-2002
- Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Enforcement, Division Director Award: 2008, 2010, 2012.
- New York Law Journal: “Lessons From Early Crypto Token Securities Class Actions”, (September 2022)
- Firm Memorandum: “Congress Expands the SEC’s Disgorgement Powers…In a Defense Spending Bill”, (January 2021)
- Firm Memorandum: “What’s New—Key Updates to the DOJ and SEC’s FCPA Resource Guide”, (July 2020)
- Firm Memorandum: “SEC Fines Private Equity Firm $1 Million for Failure to Implement Effective Insider Trading Compliance Procedures Relating to Designated Directors on Portfolio Company Boards” (June 2020)
- Firm Memorandum: “CFIUS: What the Recent Regulations Mean for Private Equity”, (February 2020)
- Firm Memorandum: “SEC Commissioner Proposes Securities Laws ‘Safe Harbor’ for Crypto Tokens”, ( February 2020)
- Co-Author, The Pitfalls of SEC’s Crypto Regulation by Enforcement, Law360, January 10, 2020.
- Speaker, Securities Enforcement Forum, “Enforcement and Regulatory Developments for Asset Managers, Broker-Dealers, Hedge Funds and More” October 23, 2019
- Firm Memorandum: “Private Equity Litigation Practice Alert: Minimizing Exposure to SEC Examinations and Enforcement Actions”, (October 2019)
- Speaker, Georgetown Law’s DC Fintech Week: “Arbitrage or Adaption? Domestic Rules. International Markets” October 22, 2019
- Co-Author, Chapter 6: “Complying with Regulatory Requirements and SEC Guidance” in “The Guide to Cyber Investigations,” Global Investigation Review, July 2019.
- Speaker, DC Bar’s Blockchain, ICOs and the Crypto Marketplace Seminar, March 5, 2019.
- Firm Memorandum: “SEC 2019 Priorities”, (January 2019).
- Speaker, Securities Enforcement Forum 2018, Cybersecurity: Enforcement and Regulation of the “Greatest Threat to Our Markets Right Now” November 1, 2018.
- Co-Author, “ICOs As Exempt Securities Offerings: An Economic Analysis,” Law360, June 28, 2018.
- Speaker, University College London, P2P Financial Systems 2017, 3d International Workshop, July 21, 2017.
- Adjunct Professor, Government Investigations, Golden Gate School of Law, San Francisco, CA (2011-2012).