Jim Burns’ practice focuses on counseling broker-dealers, exchanges, clearing agencies, alternative trading systems (ATSs), hedge funds, and private equity clients, as well as other SEC registered entities and their boards, on regulatory, compliance, and enforcement matters.

Jim has significant government and private practice experience in both the trading and markets and investment management areas. He provides insights on current issues in SEC rulemaking, examination, and enforcement contexts and strategic advice on the impact of regulatory initiatives for registrants overseen by the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets and the Division of Investment Management, FINRA, and other federal and state authorities.

Jim offers unique insights on how SEC rulemaking and other initiatives affect the business operations and compliance programs of various registrants, bringing well-respected knowledge and understanding of the equity, listed options, fixed income, and derivatives markets. As Deputy Director of the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets, Jim played an integral part in the development of key SEC positions and regulatory initiatives affecting those instruments, their markets, their intermediaries, and sell- and buy-side participants. This experience included the advancement of trading rules, registration requirements for domestic and international entities, clearance and settlement issues, developments in the fintech and crypto asset space, and the use of complex financial products. As Deputy Chief of Staff to Chair Mary Schapiro, he served a central role in responding to the Flash Crash and overseeing the development and execution of significant rules under the Dodd-Frank Act, including the Volcker Rule and the SEC’s security-based swap regulatory regime.

Jim also has wide-ranging SEC and private practice experience across broad areas of the asset management industry, covering investment managers and fiduciaries for hedge funds, private equity funds, registered investment companies, and others. He has extensive experience advising boards on various governance, risk, compliance, and disclosure-related matters. He also brings his regulatory knowledge to issues arising in M&A transactions and in preparing new entities subject to regulation.

Jim regularly authors thought leadership content in major publications, including contributing to multiple chapters in PLI’s Broker-Dealer Regulation guide.

Jim joined the firm as a partner in 2023. After his departure from the SEC in late 2014, he worked at another major global law firm where he advised broker-dealers, exchanges, clearing agencies, ATSs, hedge funds, private equity clients, and other registered entities and their boards on regulatory, compliance, and enforcement matters.


  • Numerous broker-dealers, exchanges, ATSs, clearing agencies, and asset managers in connection with regulatory reviews and enforcement actions overseen by the SEC and FINRA

  • Leading trade associations on preparing comment letters on key SEC rulemaking initiatives affecting broker-dealers, asset managers, and other registrants

  • Compliance program design or refinements for numerous registrants

  • Diligence in connection with M&A activity relating to various registrants

  • Cross-border application of SEC registration and regulatory requirements

  • Comment letters for leading trade associations and registrants in connection with SEC rule proposals and other policy initiatives

  • Crisis management for senior management and boards in connection with regulatory reviews and settlements

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Selected Activities

  • Outside Counsel, National Organization of Investment Professionals
  • Trustee, Board of Trustees, SEC Historical Society