UT professor returning to Law School after SEC job

Nick Mehendale

UT law professor Henry Hu will return to School of Law after heading a division of the Securities and Exchange Commission for 13 months.

Hu is a graduate of Yale Law School and his writings have appeared in Columbia Law Review, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Hu was named director of the Division of Risk, Strategy and Financial Innovation (Risk Fin) in 2009. Hu announced his decision Thursday; the SEC has not yet named a replacement.

The SEC set up Risk Fin as a regulatory agency in September of 2009 in response to the 2008 banking meltdown and
lawmakers’ criticisms for not catching the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. The agency is tasked with improving the SEC’s ability to identify developing risks and trends in the financial markets, as well as breaking down barriers within the SEC and improving communication between divisions, according to the SEC website.

The agency was created through the merger of separate SEC units that conducted economic analysis and risk assessment. Hu hired people he had previously worked with who managed hedge funds on Wall Street, adding people with a business and financial background to a staff primarily made up of securities lawyers. The division was the first created at the SEC in 37 years.

“He’ll be remembered as the George Washington of Risk Fin,” said John Nester, the director of the SEC’s Office of Public Affairs.

Hu will resume teaching and the research he worked on prior to his departure, said Lawrence Sager, dean of the law school.

“He is brilliant,” Sager said. “He has a wondrous technical understanding of the world of corporate finance and SEC regulation. This brings a marvelous dimension to the classroom, workshop table and the world of academic writing.”

It was always understood Hu would return to UT after working for a stint at the SEC, Sager said.

“We have worked so hard at the law school to build up a stellar faculty,” he said. “Bringing members of the faculty home with a treasure trove of experience is so important to us.”

Law professor Lino Graglia said it is very important for the school to have a highly regarded expert in securities regulation.

“He’s something of a perfectionist,” Graglia said. “He applies that perfectionism to his work; he has very high standards.”

Graglia said there is no better experience for teaching securities regulation than to be the one creating it.

“The only problem the school has now is that he’ll have offers from other schools,” Graglia said.