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SEC v. Obus: Insider Trading and Taking the SEC to Trial 2014

Speaker(s): Joel M. Cohen, Mary Kay Dunning
Recorded on: Jul. 29, 2014
PLI Program #: 60320

Joel M. Cohen, a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor, is Co-Chair of Gibson Dunn’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Group, and a member of its Securities Litigation, Class Actions and Antitrust Practice Groups. Mr. Cohen has been lead or co-lead counsel in 24 civil and criminal trials in federal and state courts. Mr. Cohen is equally comfortable leading confidential investigations, managing crises or advocating in court. Mr. Cohen’s experience includes all aspects of FCPA/anticorruption issues, insider trading, cross-border tax issues, securities and financial institution litigation, class actions, sanctions, money laundering and asset recovery, with a particular focus on international disputes and discovery.

Mr. Cohen was the prosecutor of Jordan Belfort and Stratton Oakmont, which is the focus of “The Wolf of Wall Street” film by Martin Scorsese. He was an advisor to the OECD in connection with the effort to prohibit corruption in international transactions and was the first Department of Justice legal liaison advisor to the French Ministry of Justice. Mr. Cohen is rated in Chambers, where practitioners and clients have noted that he has “incredibly strong substantive depth melded with a risk-based practicality,” “strong trial skills and handling of large-scale investigations,” and praised his ability to “handle very intense, complex matters with regulatory authorities and really just deliver great results.” Mr. Cohen has been repeatedly named a leading white collar criminal defense attorney by The Best Lawyers in America©, a “Litigation Star” national Top 100 Trial Lawyer by Benchmark Litigation, an “MVP” by Law360, one of the world’s leading practitioners in White Collar Crime in Euromoney’s Expert Guides – White Collar Crime, a “Super Lawyer” in Criminal Litigation, and his work is noted by Legal 500 in the areas of white collar criminal defense and securities litigation. In addition, The American Lawyer named Mr. Cohen as one of its Litigators of the Week after winning a jury defense verdict in an insider trading case on behalf of Nelson Obus, general partner of Wynnefield Capital.

Mr. Cohen was featured in The American Lawyer’s 2016 award of “White Collar/Regulatory Law Firm of the Year” to Gibson Dunn for his Obus trial victory. Noting that his client was “in awe” of his trial and cross examination skills, The American Lawyer linked the trial victory with the SEC’s decision days after the defense verdict to avoid jury trials and seek administrative actions in the future.

Mary Kay Dunning is an associate in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and a member of the Firm’s Litigation Practice Group. Ms. Dunning’s practice includes securities and complex commercial litigation, white collar defense and investigations, and global anti-corruption matters.

Ms. Dunning has represented financial institutions and individuals in insider trading investigations and regularly counsels clients regarding compliance with the securities laws. Recently, she was a member of the Gibson Dunn team that secured a jury trial victory on behalf of Wynnefield Capital and its portfolio manager, Nelson Obus, in SEC v. Obus, one of the longest running insider trading cases in history. Ms. Dunning also has experience in counseling boards of directors of public companies on corporate governance issues, and she has worked on teams that have conducted confidential investigations for boards of directors and privately held companies. Her practice also includes representing multinational companies in government and internal investigations pursuant to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and she assists clients in drafting FCPA policies and strengthening their anti-bribery compliance programs.

Ms. Dunning is the Vice Chair of the Firm’s Associates Committee. Her pro bono work includes matters related to civil rights and immigration. She was part of a team of Gibson Dunn attorneys who represented plaintiffs on a pro bono basis in a high-profile immigration civil rights case (Barrera v. Boughton), which resulted in a favorable settlement for the plaintiffs and earned Gibson Dunn the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s 2010 Beacon of Justice Award.

In 2013, Ms. Dunning was recognized by Super Lawyers New York Metro as a “Rising Star” in Business Litigation. She was also recognized as one of the Top Women Attorneys in Metro New York Rising Stars, as published in The New York Times Magazine in May 2014.

In 2004, Ms. Dunning graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was the Publications Editor of The Tax Lawyer. Upon graduation, she served as a law clerk to The Honorable Deborah T. Poritz, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. Ms. Dunning received a Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude in Romance Languages and Literatures from Princeton University in 1999. She then joined Teach For America and spent two years teaching public school in Newark, New Jersey, before going to law school.

Ms. Dunning is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.


Securities Enforcement
Securities Litigation
White Collar Defense and Investigations


Georgetown University
2004 Juris Doctor
Princeton University
1999 Bachelor of Arts


District of Columbia Bar
New Jersey Bar
New York Bar


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