Earlier this month, William & Mary Law School’s Center for the Study of Law and Markets hosted Securities and Exchange (SEC) Commissioner Robert J. Jackson, Jr. At the event, Commissioner Jackson spoke to students and faculty about the SEC and its current work, and then answered questions in a lively back and forth with the students.
Professor Kevin Haeberle introduced Jackson, highlighting the need for informed regulation and attempting to connect Commissioner Jackson’s background as a law professor with a focus on corporate and securities law as well as finance. (Jackson was nominated to the SEC by President Trump on Sept. 1, 2017 and sworn in by the Senate on Jan. 11, 2018. Prior to his appointment to the SEC, Jackson was also a Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He also previously practiced law at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and served as a senior policy advisor for the US Department of Treasury following the financial crisis of 2007-08. Jackson received his B.A., B.S., and M.B.A. in Finance from University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Public Policy and J.D. from Harvard University.)
Commissioner Jackson began his lecture by noting the role that his parents’ investment and faith in the stock market played in his education and career.
“I got to sit in the United States Senate with my mom and dad behind me at my confirmation hearing, and the only reason that’s true is because of the men and women who worked in our securities market,” Jackson said. “I feel like I’m getting to live my little slice of the American dream, and I think the markets have a lot to do with that.”
Jackson talked about the importance of educating ordinary Americans on investing in the stock market. He said that he is working to make the markets fairer for these individual investors.
“There’s fundamental importance in convincing ordinary Americans that the markets aren’t really against them,” Jackson said. “In order to persuade people to participate not only in our markets, but in civic society, you have to convince them that they have a fair part in that game.”
He named three areas where he is trying to bring change securities markets: the use of dual-class shares by large public companies, mandatory arbitration of investor suits, and the structure of trading and data dissemination that takes place through exchanges and related trading platforms. He emphasized the importance of encouraging the participation of more Americans in the American stock market and increasing competition among the exchange operators.
“In a world where data and connectivity gets cheaper every day, our major stock exchanges are raising prices and taking money from investors on a regular basis with the permission of the SEC,” Jackson said. “My job is to try to persuade policymakers that we should be protecting [the ordinary] person when we make choices at the SEC.”
About the Center for the Study of Law and Markets
The Center for the Study of Law and Markets at William & Mary Law School seeks to advance the understanding of the role of legal institutions in promoting well-functioning markets in a free society. Learn more.
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.