'Specialization' on Tap at SEC Enforcement

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The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into a more specialized approach for combating fraud. In a departure from past practices, the agency wants to set up teams of specialists who bring in-depth knowledge of different areas of the business to their work, thus making it "more smart, more swift and more successful," in the words of enforcement chief Robert Khuzami.

The Wall Street Journal says the idea - which is in the planning stages - is getting a mixed reaction inside the SEC. Some staffers worry a specialized system would "be unruly to manage and pigeonhole lawyers into narrow fields within securities law." Others, according to the newspaper, "are excited about the changes." Writing in Compliance Week, former SEC Senior Council Bruce Carton notes the specialization approach is common in U.S. attorneys' offices.

"It's not about what's broken," Mr. Khuzami says. "It's to identify structures and processes that allow us to do our job as best we can."

Meanwhile, the SEC may eliminate the "branch chief" role, lower level managers who worked closely with staff attorneys, according to the Journal. "The goal really is to have all the management that you need but no more than necessary so you can free people up to do what's our first and foremost priority, which is to make cases," Khuzami told the newspaper.