James Walker concentrates in government enforcement actions, internal investigations and representing law firms and lawyers in professional liability matters. He represents audit committees, directors, senior executives, law firms, lawyers and other professionals in government and internal investigations of potential criminal, regulatory and/or professional misconduct, and in civil litigation and regulatory proceedings. He has extensive experience in the representation of senior executives in employment disputes and negotiating employment and separation agreements. more +
Mr. Walker has been active in city and state bar associations, including his service on the Association of the Bar of the City of New York Professional Discipline, Professional and Judicial Ethics, Professional Responsibility, and Securities Regulation Committees, and on the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics, where he has been a member since 1996. He is the current chair of the New York County Lawyers' Association Committee on Professional Ethics.
Mr. Walker is a frequent lecturer on legal ethics, and has written articles on attorney-client privilege, professional ethics, internal investigations and issues arising under the securities laws. Recently, he has partnered with AltaClaro to provide custom e-learning solutions for in-house counsel across various industries. Mr. Walker also serves as general counsel to Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP.
Significant audit committee engagements include:
- Representing the audit committee of an alternative asset manager in an FCPA investigation involving several investments in Africa.
- Representing the audit committee of a REIT in an internal investigation and related criminal and SEC investigations of embezzlement and other misconduct by the REIT’s former CEO.
- Representing audit committee members in an internal investigation, and parallel criminal and SEC proceedings, involving accounting irregularities identified by the company’s outside auditor.
Significant senior executive engagements include:
- Representing senior executives at a NYSE-listed foreign company in connection with Department of Justice and SEC investigations of possible FCPA violations involving Eastern European subsidiaries.
- Representing the chief executive officer of a public company in an internal investigation relating to the company’s restatement of several years of financial statements caused by an understatement of federal income tax payments.
- Representing a senior corporate officer of a Fortune 500 company in an ERISA lawsuit, securities litigation and criminal investigation that resulted in the convictions of the company's chief executive officer and chief financial officer.
- Representing the founder, sole owner and chief executive officer of a hedge fund in connection with an SEC investigation of unlawful short selling.
- Representing senior finance professionals of a broker-dealer in DOJ and SEC investigations of CDO transactions.
- Representing the portfolio manager of two mutual funds in parallel SEC and NYAG investigations of alleged front-running and inadequate fund disclosures relating to IPOs.
- Representing a senior securities industry professional in criminal, SEC and state investigations of market timing.
Significant professional liability matters include:
- Defending lawyers who conducted ERISA claims review as witnesses in ERISA class action litigation.
- Obtaining reversal of court order that found lawyer in contempt and referred lawyer to disciplinary proceedings.
- Persuading debtor to abandon malpractice claim against law firm and its former partner stemming from choice-of law advice and conflicts allegations.
- Obtaining dismissal of claims against law firm and former partner based on allegation that partner submitted false declarations in a lawsuit.
- Represented large law firm in the internal investigation of improper payments involving attorneys in several offices of the firm.
- Successfully defended law firm and one of its partners in a New York Attorney General investigation of fraudulent conduct by a former client and possible aiding and abetting claims against partner and law firm.
- Successfully defended law firm in the investigation and criminal prosecution of lawyers and an accountant in connection with a conspiracy to promote fraudulent tax shelters.
- Successfully defended law firm against possible aiding and abetting allegations in a criminal investigation and prosecution of law firm client relating to a fraudulent venture capital scheme.
- Advised law firms, lawyers and legal departments of corporations on risk management policies and procedures to mitigate professional liability claims and in internal investigations of possible professional misconduct.
Honors & Awards
- Recognized by Best Lawyers in America in the area of Criminal Defense: White-Collar (2013-2017)
- Recommended by The Legal 500 United States in the area of White Collar Criminal Defense (2016).
- Selected by Super Lawyers Magazine as a New York Super Lawyer in White Collar Criminal Defense, Professional Liability Defense, Corporate Governance and Compliance (2009-2017)
- Named a Future National Star by Benchmark Litigation (2016, 2017)
- Named a New York Local Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation (2018)
- Named a fellow of the American Bar Foundation
Professional & Community Affiliations
Chair, New York County Lawyers' Association Committee on Professional Ethics
Editorial Board Member, The ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct
Member, Law360 Legal Ethics Editorial Advisory Board
Member, New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics (since 1996)
Seminar Co-Chair, 2017 ABA Corporate Counsel Conference
Advisory Council member for CSR Professional Services, Inc., a company that provides data privacy and security services to businesses, in connection with the launch of its Legal Readiness product for lawyers, which increases a lawyer’s awareness of data privacy and cybersecurity issues pertinent to the lawyer’s law practice.