Howard Fischer has extensive experience in trying complex financial disputes. As a former Senior Trial Counsel at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), he was entrusted with some of the most sophisticated and noteworthy cases that the federal government prosecuted in the last decade. During his nine year tenure at the SEC, he earned multiple awards for exemplary service and served as first chair for numerous trials. This included acting as lead counsel in the litigation against Wing Chau and Harding Advisory LLC - relating to CDO asset selection in the run-up to the financial crisis - resulting in a major conviction against one of the characters lampooned in the film “The Big Short.” Howard was also the lead trial counsel in the prosecution of Kareem Serageldin, another figure referenced in “The Big Short”, involving the mismarking of certain mortgage-backed assets, by Credit Suisse, in the wake of the financial crisis.
Howard also led the SEC litigation involving the infamous London Whale, arising from JPMorgan Chase traders incurring multi-billion dollar losses in its credit derivatives book. This case involved many years of discovery on several continents, including several multi-week depositions.
Howard was lead trial counsel for the successful litigation against the former management of Dewey & Leboeuf arising from the firm’s collapse, an insider trading case against the assistant to one of Disney Corporation’s highest ranking executives, and numerous multi-million dollar litigations against asset managers and investment advisers. Before leaving the SEC for his return to private practice, Howard secured a $20 million judgment against the former manager of a private equity fund who concocted a scheme to divert millions of investors’ funds through a series of fake “due diligence” expenditures, as well as multi-million dollar judgments against participants in a long-term, multi-issuer fraudulent offering.
Howard has significant experience in the insurance and reinsurance spheres. Among other matters, he acted as lead counsel for a series of litigations involving insured and reinsured film financing, including as lead trial counsel. He represented the President and Chief Operating Officer of a major insurance company in a multi-billion dollar class action, winning a total dismissal of all counts. Howard also represented insurance executives in various SEC and DOJ investigations, and defended insurance companies in both sales practice and claims handling class actions. For several years, he served as co-chair of the Insurance/Reinsurance Committee of the International Section, NYSBA, and has made multiple presentations on insurance topics, both in the US and abroad at international conferences.
Howard’s legal expertise involving complex financial instruments and matters, including CDOs and other asset-backed instruments, credit derivatives and credit derivative indices, was developed and honed by handling a variety of sophisticated cases. This has included numerous types of accounting fraud, instances of compliance failures by market participants, and violations of securities laws and regulations involving banks, hedge funds, private equity funds, mutual funds, investment advisers and broker-dealers. Additionally, he has developed close relationships with a wide range of federal and state law enforcement and regulatory authorities, including the Department of Justice, various US Attorney’s Offices, state and local criminal enforcement authorities, as well as self-regulatory organizations like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) and the New York Stock Exchange.
Howard has both published widely and been interviewed by various media outlets on a variety of topics, including Supreme Court decisions, securities rules and regulations, litigation trends, data security and other topics. He has lectured in the United States, Europe and Asia on subjects ranging from accounting fraud, securities enforcement actions, arbitration techniques and the lingering effects of the financial crisis.
Prior to working at the SEC, Howard served as a partner at Schindler, Cohen & Hochman LLP (“SC&H”), a securities and complex litigation boutique. During his time at SC&H, Howard first-chaired a number of litigations and arbitrations involving financial products, including disputes over the reinsurance of film finance products, hedge fund litigation and numerous securities arbitrations before FINRA and the NYSE for companies such as UBS, Goldman Sachs, Lazard Asset Management, General Reinsurance Corp. and others. Among other litigation victories, he won numerous arbitrations for several financial services firms.
In addition to his substantial experience in financial services, Previously, he was an associate in the litigation departments of Debevoise & Plimpton and Rosenman & Colin. He had also been a federal law clerk to Judge Constance Baker Motley, in the District Court for the Southern District of New York, and Judges Carmen Cerezo and Gilberto Gierbolini Ortiz in the District Court of Puerto Rico. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School (1992), where he was a member of the Columbia Law Review, and received his undergraduate degree, cum laude, from Yale (1988), where he majored in philosophy.
Howard has written and lectured extensively on issues relating to litigation, arbitration, securities and government enforcement. He has spoken before national and international bar associations in the United States, Europe and Asia, as well as at law schools.