Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 40

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

JOSEPHINE WANG

Reflects on Journey From Counselor to CEO
By Kathleen Troy

I

n April 2019, Josephine Wang took the helm as president and CEO of the
Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), 36 years after joining the
government-chartered private nonprofit as a staff attorney. Although SIPC
is not a household name, it serves a critical mission in protecting investors
under the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA). SIPC has overseen some
of the largest, most successful recoveries for investors following securities
broker-dealer failures, most notably the infamous Ponzi scheme of Bernard
Madoff, who is serving a 150-year prison term. How did a junior attorney
rise to the top of the organization and make the switch from counselor
to head manager?

"The thought of going to law school never
entered my mind until a good friend applied
during senior year, and I decided a law degree
might be more practical and offer more opportunities. So, I really just wandered into law,"
Wang says.
Focusing on bankruptcy and securities law was
not part of a carefully crafted career plan either.
"I've never had a five-year career plan and didn't
know what kind of law I wanted to practice
after law school," says Wang, who earned her
JD from Georgetown University Law Center.
"I'd describe my career as a series of opportunities I was able to build on," Wang continues. "My
first job as a lawyer was with the Commodity
Futures Trading Commission in Washington.
After five years at the commission, it was a
natural progression to move from the world of
commodity futures to securities. When the SIPC
opening for a staff attorney appeared, I applied.
For a number of years, I wrote a lot of briefs,
made the occasional court appearance at different levels of the federal court system, and

40 WASHINGTON LAWYER

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MARCH/APRIL 2020

represented SIPC in liquidations nationwide,
wherever they were initiated."
Wang joined SIPC in 1983 and was promoted to
general counsel in 2004. Along the way Wang
says she not only gained a lot of experience in
bankruptcy and securities law, but also broadened her skills considerably through working
with SIPC's many constituencies.
"On a regular basis, SIPC deals with the investing
public, its member broker-dealers, and government agencies. We also make the occasional
visit to Capitol Hill due to [the corporation's]
federal charter and government oversight," she
says. "The securities industry itself is fast-paced
and innovative, and dealing with our many
stakeholders adds to the complexity of the job.
There's always a novel issue, and each new
experience added to my career growth."
Here, Wang shares more about her career, her
role at SIPC, and what she hopes to achieve
during her tenure as president.
What does SIPC do and how does it protect
investors?
SIPC has been serving the investing public since
1970, when Congress passed SIPA in the wake
of severe disruptions, mismanagement, and
failures in the securities industry brought
on by a surge in investing and inadequate
broker-dealer automation. Many investors lost

Courtesy of Josephine Wang

But first, it is interesting to note that going into
law did not even cross Wang's mind when she
was considering her career options. The New
York-born Wang studied economics and political
science at Hunter College and thought about
getting a master's degree in international affairs.

securities and cash in the resulting chaos of
rescue mergers and bankruptcies. Today, SIPA
requires most broker-dealers to be SIPC
members and to pay assessments that are
pooled into an SIPC-administered fund. If a
securities broker-dealer fails, SIPC steps in to
oversee the firm's liquidation. SIPC helps recover
customers' securities and investment cash or
compensates them from the SIPC fund, up to
the statutory limit of $500,000, including an
investment cash limit of up to $250,000 per
customer. SIPC-designated trustees administer
the liquidation proceedings under bankruptcy
court and SIPC oversight.
SIPA doesn't, however, protect investors from all
risks, including market losses, and it's important
for investors to learn whether and how their



Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
Women of Impact feature
The Race to End Roe feature
Solar Power Access Feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
Global & Domestic Outlook
Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Women of Impact feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - The Race to End Roe feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Solar Power Access Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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