Annual Sommer Lecture Includes a Surprise: A Hamilton Superfan


Noted securities lawyer Ira D. Hammerman channeled the words and passion of the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton while calling for the Securities and Exchange Commission to make changes to protect individual investors, during the 17th Annual A.A. Sommer, Jr. Lecture on Corporate, Securities and Financial Law at Fordham Law School.

Hammerman, executive vice president and general counsel for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), the leading trade association for the financial industry, titled his speech “SEC – Don’t Throw Away Your Shot! A Renewed Call for a Uniform Fiduciary Standard to Protect Individual Investors”—an homage to the musical he has seen five times and whose references he peppered throughout his speech. He even rapped his own securities-related verse, in the spirit and cadence of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“How does a broker, dealer, intensely regulated firm operate so smart, yet debate whether he has the client’s best interests at heart?” Hammerman rhymed.

Hammerman went on to highlight three key points: the problem the uniform fiduciary standard is intended to solve and where things stand today, an optimal solution to the problem, and how the securities industry can remove impediments to the solution. In his last point, he explained why SIFMA has sued the Department of Labor.

Hammerman has directed SIFMA’s legal advocacy efforts since 2004 and was intimately involved with the organization’s response to the 2008 financial crisis, notably its advocacy efforts related to the Dodd-Frank Act. He credited the lecture series’ namesake, the late A.A. Sommer Jr., a one-time commissioner of the SEC, for foretelling the emergence and expansion of fiduciary duties in the security industry, when he penned a 1978 law review article titled “Fiduciary Duties: The Search for Content.”

“While there are some fundamental and uniform elements of a fiduciary duty, no matter the context, it is equally true that the manner in which a fiduciary duty is applied, in any specific context, has elements of uniqueness that justify separate considerations,” Hammerman said.

In his opening remarks, Fordham Law Dean Matthew Diller celebrated the work of the Fordham Corporate Law Center and also recognized Fordham’s distinction as the first law school to establish an LL.M. in corporate compliance and its new M.S.L. in that area.

The Sommer Lecture is made possible through the generosity of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and is supported by the SEC Historical Society. Sommer, an SEC commissioner from 1973 to 1976 and later a Morgan Lewis partner, established the firm’s securities regulatory practice.


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