Mary Jo White – SEC chief

5 minutes with... Mary Jo White

Mary Jo WhiteStarting 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.”