5 Minutes With... Mary Jo White

Mary Jo White (born 1947) is a former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. She is the first and so far only women to hold that position. In that role she prosecuted the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings and investigated President Clinton's last-day-in-office pardon of billionaire financier and fraudster Marc Rich. She is currently a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. In January 2013, President Obama nominated her to to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Greatest regret? "That I have not (yet) become Commissioner of Major League Baseball."

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Starting out, what did you expect from a career in law?

To become Perry Mason.

What do you consider to have been your big break?

Becoming Andy Maloney’s Chief Assistant in the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office in 1990.

What differences do you see in today’s legal market compared to when you started?

Much more competitive, more of a business and clients (rightly) more discriminating consumers of legal services.

What achievement are you most proud of?  

So far, practicing flat out for over three decades at two of the finest public and private institutions of our profession: the US Attorney’s Office and Debevoise & Plimpton.

What do you consider your greatest failure or regret?

That I have not (yet) become Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

What law would you want to change, abolish or create?

Change the essentially strict liability standard for corporate criminal liability to a law narrowing such liability to pervasive offenses committed at the management level – or abolish corporate criminal liability entirely.

Who is your legal hero?  

A combination of Bob Fiske, John Martin and Andy Maloney – the US Attorneys for whom I worked as a federal prosecutor.

What career would you have in your second life?

Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

How would you like to be remembered?  

“Her own person.”