Mary Jo White to Serve as Commencement Speaker at William & Mary Law School’s May 18 Diploma Ceremony

  • Commencement 2024
    Commencement 2024  Mary Jo White, a litigation partner in the New York office of Debevoise, and former Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, will deliver the address at William & Mary Law School’s Diploma Ceremony on May 18.  
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Mary Jo White, a litigation partner in the New York office of Debevoise, and leader of the firm’s Strategic Crisis Response and Solutions Group, will deliver the commencement address at William & Mary Law School’s Diploma Ceremony on Saturday, May 18. 

Degrees will be awarded to approximately 183 students in the J.D. and LL.M. programs. The ceremony is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. at Kaplan Arena. Seating will be limited to graduates and their guests.

“Described by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful women in the world, Mary Jo White is an exceptionally accomplished and widely praised attorney,” said Stephen Steward ’24, President of the Student Bar Association. “We are excited to have her present for our graduation.”

Steward added that the citizen lawyers of William & Mary Law School take professionalism and ethics very seriously and are encouraged that Ms. White does as well.

“With her experience investigating and prosecuting various forms of misconduct, we are looking forward to hearing firsthand from someone who has seen the good deeds that can be accomplished as a lawyer,” Steward said.

White focuses her practice on representing clients on significant and sensitive matters, including companies facing crises involving multi-faceted government investigations and cases as well as counseling boards of directors. She has decades of experience prosecuting and defending a wide range of white-collar criminal and civil cases, having served as Chair of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and as a well-known private practitioner in high-profile matters.

White graduated from William & Mary, Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A., The New School for Social Research with an M.A. in Psychology, and Columbia Law School with a J.D., where she was an officer of the Law Review.

From 1983 to 1990, White was a litigation partner at Debevoise, where she focused on white collar defense work, SEC enforcement matters and commercial and professional civil litigation. From 1978 to 1981, she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where she became Chief Appellate Attorney of the Criminal Division. Prior to that, she worked as an associate at Debevoise from 1976 to 1978. White also served as a law clerk to the Hon. Marvin E. Frankel, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

White served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1993 to 2002. She is the only woman to hold the top position in the more than 200-year history of that office, which has the responsibility of enforcing the federal criminal and civil laws of the nation. White also served as the first Chairperson of Attorney General Janet Reno’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys from all over the country.

Prior to joining the SEC in 2013, White was the Chair of Debevoise’s Litigation Department. During that time, her practice concentrated on internal investigations and defense of companies and individuals accused by the government of involvement in white collar corporate crime or SEC and civil securities law violations, and on other major business litigation disputes and crises.

White served for nearly four years as Chair of the SEC. She was nominated by President Obama to lead the SEC and was one of the Commission’s longest-serving Chairs. She rejoined Debevoise in 2017,

White is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International College of Trial Lawyers. She is the recipient of numerous awards and is regularly ranked as a leading lawyer by directories that evaluate law firms. In addition, White has served as Director of The Nasdaq Stock Exchange, and on its Executive, Audit and Policy Committees. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.