SEC Appoints Illinois Tech Law Professor William Birdthistle as Division Director


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Illinois Tech Professor of Law William Birdthistle has been appointed as a division director at the SEC.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has named Chicago-Kent College of Law Professor William A. Birdthistle as director of one of five organization divisions.

“The SEC’s Division of Investment Management has an exceptional reputation for protecting investors in funds and the asset management arena,” Birdthistle said in an announcement released today. “I am eager to work with the dedicated staff behind those efforts to carry out the policy agenda that Chair [Gary] Gensler has established to help investors and others.”

The Division of Investment Management “oversees mutual funds and other investment products and services that investors may use to help them buy a home, send kids to college, or prepare for retirement,” according to its website. The division’s primary responsibility is to enforce the Investment Company Act of 1940 and Investment Advisers Act of 1940, which “includes developing regulatory policy for investment companies...and for investment advisers.”

A member of the Chicago-Kent faculty since 2006, Birdthistle conducts research in the areas of investment funds, executive compensation, and corporate governance. During his years as a corporate associate with Ropes & Gray LLP, he worked primarily on matters involving mutual funds and hedge funds, focusing specifically on governmental investigations into allegations of malfeasance in the mutual fund industry. He has served as counsel of record on multiple amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Birdthistle is the author of Empire of the Fund: The Way We Save Now (2016), which examines the explosive growth of mutual funds in 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts, and the dangers this poses to savings accounts.

“William Birdthistle’s insightful and practical research has contributed tremendously to scholarship on securities regulation and investment funds and has improved financial literacy for everyday investors,” says Chicago-Kent Dean Anita K. Krug. “I am thrilled that the SEC has recognized William’s impactful work and that he will be bringing his knowledge to bear in service to the commission.”

Birdthistle is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he served as managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. He received his bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from Duke University in 1995. Following law school, he clerked for Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Birdthistle is a citizen of both the Republic of Ireland and the United States. He lived in Marsa el Brega, Libya, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before coming to the United States for his undergraduate studies. 

More information is available in the SEC’s news release.

Photo: Chicago-Kent College of Law Professor William A. Birdthistle