Banking and International Law
The 5th Annual Samuel N. Hecsh Window on the Working World of Law
The Story: In 1995 I received a BA, with honors, in government from Harvard College and went on to graduate from Harvard Law School in 1998. I am now counsel in the corporate and securities practice group at Arnold & Porter LLP, an international law firm of 700 attorneys, with offices in Brussels, Denver, London, Los Angeles, New York, Northern Virginia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to practice law for nearly eleven years.
My practice currently focuses on advising hedge fund and private equity fund sponsors in organizing the hedge funds and private equity funds, as well as advising on the operational, trading, regulatory, and compliance issues impacting these funds. I also represent fund sponsors in the structuring of their businesses (including structuring ownership and compensation arrangements) as well as the sale of some or all of their businesses. Advising commodity pool operators on a variety of regulatory and operational issues is another job task I perform.
In addition to the above, my professional experience includes representing investment advisers and broker-dealers in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) examinations, investigations and enforcement proceedings. Assisting clients in drafting compliance policies and procedures, conducting compliance audits, and guiding them through the investment adviser registration process are also some of my undertakings. I've also enjoyed the challenge of advising public and private companies and investment firms on offerings, corporate governance, regulatory reporting, and compliance issues under federal and state securities laws. My clients range from large financial institutions to emerging start-up businesses.
My days at work are never the same as I engage in a variety of activities such as advising clients (either by telephone or in direct meetings) on a host of issues confronting their businesses, researching legal issues (using both online and offline resources), and negotiating and drafting various documents that range from hedge fund offering documents and service provider agreements to marketing materials or compliance policies and procedures. I also supervise other associates in the performance of some or all of these tasks.
I am completely blind in my left eye and have some visual acuity in my right eye. My daily activities are done by using a variety of technologies such as JAWS for Windows on my computer to assist me in reading emails, conducting legal research, and drafting documents and agreements. I also use a close circuit television to assist me in reading hard print and marking up documents.
Living with my wife in New York City, with the use of my cane and having the subway make travel to and from work, client sites, church, and other community engagements quite manageable. Both my wife and I feel blessed by having many volunteer opportunities within our church and local community. Currently, I am honored to serve on the board of directors of a newly launched non-profit organization whose mission is to provide legal assistance to disadvantaged and disempowered communities. The organization does this principally by being available at churches that serve food to the needy. I am also blessed with the privilege of playing guitar for our weekly bible study group.
I would encourage others with a visual disability to aim high, whether it is within the practice of law or otherwise, and to view their visual disability as a springboard to success rather than as a hindrance. When confronted by others that have doubts as to your abilities, it is necessary to stay positive and focused. When confronted with challenges, it is necessary to be flexible and to think outside the box to find solutions that will work for you. This will require being aware of all of the options, resources and technologies that will help you achieve your goals. Also, I have found that it is necessary to work harder than those without visual disabilities to reach my goals, but then the reward of succeeding is richer.
As it relates specifically to the practice of law, I would urge aspiring lawyers to give careful thought as to whether law is the right profession for you. The best resource to determine whether law is the right profession for you is to talk with other lawyers and to ascertain whether there are any volunteer or intern opportunities that will allow you to experience what practice in the legal field entails. I enjoy the practice of law principally because I love writing and helping others solve their problems.
Nonetheless, the practice of law requires a commitment to being continually available to clients, working long hours, and tremendous attention to detail. I have found being an attorney very rewarding, as has my brother, a completely blind attorney who also works at a large firm in New York.
The Contact: Richard Chen
The American Foundation for the Blind is pleased to present "The Samuel N. Hecsh Window on the Working World of Law," funded by the Samuel N. Hecsh Fund at the American Foundation for the Blind. A new article in memory of Mr. Hecsh appears annually.
After losing his vision, Mr. Hecsh attended law school—with some help from a scholarship from AFB—and had a satisfying career. Feeling he could not continue his previous employment, he met with many lawyers who were blind and attributed his success as a blind attorney in part to his encouragement from these mentors. We thank his wife, Muriel O'Reilly, and daughters, Janet and Caitlin Hecsh, for choosing to honor his memory in this special way. The Samuel N. Hecsh Window on the Working World of Law is designed to encourage other people experiencing vision loss to choose to enter the field of law.