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Symposium Honors Centennial Professor Roberta Karmel

06/08/2021

On May 13 and 14, Brooklyn Law School hosted the virtual symposium A Life Navigating the Securities Markets: A Celebration of Professor Roberta Karmel’s Work, Teaching, and Mentorship. At the symposium, noted scholars, colleagues, and practitioners presented and discussed papers that explored Karmel’s impact on the legal regulation of securities markets. At a celebration following the symposium, participants joined family members to offer personal recollections and pay tribute to the trailblazing lawyer—the first woman to become a partner at the law firm of Rogers and Wells and the first woman to serve as a commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Karmel currently holds the Centennial chair at the Law School. Since joining the faculty in 1985, she has helped to reshape the institution. She cofounded the Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law with Professor Emeritus Arthur Pinto, and was the first faculty adviser to the Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial & Commercial Law. The journal, the Block Center, and the Center for the Study of Business Law and Regulation sponsored the symposium.

Karmel began her career as an SEC regional administrator, followed by private practice, before returning to the SEC as a commissioner in 1977. She moved to private practice in 1980, becoming a public director of the New York Stock Exchange. She then joined Brooklyn Law School, where she mentored generations of students and colleagues starting their careers and lectured internationally.

“Roberta Karmel is a reminder that deans come and go, but faculty defines an institution,” said Dean Michael T. Cahill in his introduction to the symposium. “Roberta is one of a small number that have made Brooklyn Law School what it is today.”

Associate Dean Edward Janger, co-director of the Center for the Study of Business Law & Regulation, lauded his longtime friend and colleague. He noted that Karmel, through her scholarship and her work as chair of the faculty’s hiring committee, “personifies the ‘Brooklyn School’ of scholarship,” and helped the Law School achieve its national reputation.

The panels, which covered topics representing the impressive range of Karmel’s influence, were moderated by faculty from the Law School, including Miriam Baer, Steven Dean, Robin Effron, Andrew Gold, and Dana Brakman Reiser. Karmel’s former colleagues in government and practice, as well as legal scholars from the nation’s top law schools, served as panelists.

At the evening’s celebration, stories were shared of how Karmel touched many lives and careers. Her sons and grandchildren spoke of the wonderful cultural adventures she has given them. “Like Walt Whitman, Roberta Karmel contains multitudes,” said her son Philip Karmel.

The impact of her support, especially for women, was expressed by Hon. Claire Kelly ’93, judge of the U.S. Court of International Trade and member of the Law School’s Board of Trustees. “Roberta Karmel fought for us,” she said. “There’s the saying of ‘speaking truth to power.’ Roberta speaks truth to everyone.”

Attorney and former SEC colleague John Paul Ketels recognized her transformative role at the SEC. “What you did as commissioner made the SEC think about the way it wields its power,” said Ketels. “You were an activist change agent, not to be denied or deterred.”

At the conclusion of the event, Karmel thanked the attendees with her signature humility. “I didn’t recognize myself in these talks,” she said. “I’m thrilled by this festschrift. Usually when I go to events where I am honored, I receive some beautiful piece of crystal in a lovely box. One day a student came to my office and happened to look into one of those boxes and questioned why there were pieces of glass scattered around the bottom. I told him, ‘It’s simply about breaking the glass ceiling.’”

Papers from the symposium will be published in a special issue of the Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial & Commercial Law, in Karmel’s honor.

View the full program here

Symposium Agenda

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Welcome Remarks

Michael T. Cahill, President, Joseph Crea Dean, and Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

Introduction

Edward J. Janger, David M. Barse Professor of Law; Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Scholarship; Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Business Law and Regulation, Brooklyn Law School

Panel I: Regulation through Prosecution

Moderator
Miriam Baer, Professor of Law; Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Business Law and Regulation, Brooklyn Law School

Speakers and Discussion Topics
Donna Nagy, Acting Executive Associate Dean; C. Ben Dutton Professor of Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
“Securities Enforcement Remedies: Past and Present”
James Park, Professor of Law; Faculty Director, Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy, UCLA School of Law
“Securities Enforcement During the 1970s”

Commenters
Linda Chatman Thomsen, Senior Counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP; former Director of the SEC Division of Enforcement
Richard H. Walker, Partner, King & Spalding; former Director of SEC Division of Enforcement and former SEC General Counsel


Panel II: International Harmonization of Securities Regulation

Moderator
Robin Effron, Professor of Law; Co-Director, Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law, Brooklyn Law School

Speakers and Discussion Topics
Howell E. Jackson, James S. Reid, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
The EU Challenge to the SEC: A View from 2021”

Commenters
Edward F. Greene, Senior Counsel, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; former Director of the SEC Division of Corporation Finance and former SEC General Counsel
Paul A. Leder, Of Counsel, Miller & Chevalier; former Director of the SEC’s Office of International Affairs
Eric Pan, President & CEO, Investment Company Institute; former Director of the CFTC’s Office of International Affairs

 

Celebration

Tributes from Brooklyn Law School administration, faculty, alumni, and former colleagues of Professor Karmel

 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Panel III: Corporate Governance


Moderator
Dana Brakman Reiser, Centennial Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

Speakers and Discussion Topics
John C. Coffee, Jr., Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
“Universal Investors: How Will Institutions Behave in an Era of Common Ownership and Systematic Risk?—An Essay for Roberta Karmel”
Jill E. Fisch, Saul A. Fox Distinguished Professor of Business Law; Co-Director, Institute for Law and Economics, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
“The Empty Voting Problem with Mutual Fund Stewardship”
Joan MacLeod Heminway, Rick Rose Distinguished Professor of Law; Interim Director, The Institute for Professional Leadership, University of Tennessee College of Law
“Federalized Corporate Governance: The Dream of William O. Douglas as Sarbanes-Oxley Turns 20”

Commenter
Minor Myers, Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law


Panel IV: Securities Market Structure


Moderator
Steven Dean, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

Speakers and Discussion Topics
James Fanto, Gerald Baylin Professor of Law; Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Business Law and Regulation, Brooklyn Law School
“Professor Karmel’s Views on the Transformation of Self-Regulatory Organizations”

Commenters
W. Hardy Callcott, Partner, Sidley & Austin LLP; former SEC Assistant General Counsel
Annette L. Nazareth, Senior Counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP; former SEC Commissioner and former Director of SEC’s Division of Trading & Markets
Eric D. Roiter, Lecturer, Boston University School of Law; Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Fidelity Management & Research Company (retired); former SEC Assistant General Counsel

 

Panel V: Financial Services and Financial Intermediaries


Moderator
Andrew Gold, Professor of Law, Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Business Law and Regulation, Brooklyn Law School

Speakers and Discussion Topics
Arthur Laby, Professor of Law; Co-Director of the Rutgers Center for Corporate Law and Governance, Rutgers Law School
“Investment Management Regulation”
Alan Palmiter, William T. Wilson, III Presidential Chair for Business Law: Professor of Law, Wake Forest Law School
“The Enduring Fiduciary in Retail Investing”

Commenters
Andrew “Buddy” Donohue, Adjunct Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School; former Director of the SEC Division of Investment Management
Saule Omarova, Beth and Marc Goldberg Professor of Law; Director, Clarke Program on the Law and Regulation of Financial Institutions and Markets, Cornell Law School