A.A. Sommer, Jr.

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A.A. Sommer, Jr.

Alphonse Adam Sommer, Jr., who was known as A.A. Sommer, Jr. or "Al", (1924-2002) was an American lawyer and former commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He served on the SEC from 1973 to 1976 during a turbulent period for the financial markets. He was instrumental in the SEC's decision to eliminate fixed commission rates.[1][2][3]

Early Life and Career[edit]

Sommer was born in 1924 in Baltimore, Maryland and served in the Army during World War II. He graduated from Harvard College in 1946 and Harvard Law School in 1949. After law school, he joined the law firm of Calfee, Halter, Calfee, Griswold & Sommer in Cleveland, Ohio, where he specialized in corporate and securities law.

SEC Commissioner[edit]

In 1973, Sommer was appointed by President Richard Nixon to serve as a commissioner on the SEC. His tenure coincided with a period of economic turmoil and corporate scandals, including the Watergate crisis and the 1973-74 stock market crash. As a commissioner, Sommer advocated for stronger corporate governance and disclosure requirements to protect investors.

One of Sommer's notable contributions was chairing the SEC's Advisory Committee on Corporate Disclosure, which issued a report in 1977 emphasizing the importance of reliable and timely information for investment decision-making. The report influenced the SEC's approach to corporate disclosure regulations.[4]

Sommer was replaced as an SEC commissioner by Roberta Karmel, who was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to be the first woman to serve an SEC commissioner.[5]

Post-SEC Career[edit]

After leaving the SEC in 1976, Sommer first joined the law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue for eighteen months. When the firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius decided to expand its Washington, D.C. office into a full-service firm, Sommer was hired there, where he practiced until his retirement in 1994.[6] He continued to be involved in securities law and corporate governance issues, serving on various committees and advisory boards.[7][8]

Sommer was also a public member of the Public Oversight Board of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, where he served as its chairman from 1986 until 1999 when he was succeeded by Charles A. Bowsher, and served as the vice chairman of the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD).[9]

Publications and Writings[edit]

Sommer served as the general editor for several influential texts on securities law, including "Securities Law Techniques," "Federal Securities Act of 1933," "Federal Securities and Exchange Act of 1934," and "Blue Sky Regulation." He was also a co-author of "The Essential Guide to Board Committees."[10][11][12]

International Advisory Work[edit]

Sommer's expertise was sought after by various governments around the world. He advised the governments of China, Egypt, the Philippines, and several Latin American countries on establishing securities markets and regulatory frameworks.[13]

Academic Appointments[edit]

In addition to his legal practice and government service, Sommer held academic appointments at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Michigan, where he taught courses related to securities law and corporate governance.

Professional Leadership Roles[edit]

Sommer played a prominent role in several professional organizations in the legal and securities fields. He chaired the Federal Regulation of Securities Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) and the ABA Section on Business Law. He also led the Committee on Issues and Trading in Securities of the International Bar Association and served on the SEC's Advisory Committee on Corporate Disclosure.

Legacy[edit]

Sommer was widely respected for his expertise in securities law and his dedication to investor protection. In recognition of his contributions, the Fordham University School of Law established the annual A.A. Sommer, Jr. Lecture on Corporate, Securities, and Financial Law in his honor.[14][15][16][17]

Sommer passed away in 2002 at the age of 77 in Washington, D.C.

References[edit]

  1. A.A. Sommer Jr., 77, Dies. The Washington Post.
  2. A. A. Sommer Jr., 77, Commissioner on the S.E.C. in the 70's. The New York Times.
  3. DEDICATION TO A. A. SOMMER, JR.. Washington University of St. Louis.
  4. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Disclosure Study. {{{org}}}.
  5. Roberta Karmel, First Female SEC Commissioner, Dies at 86. Bloomberg.
  6. Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society Interview with A. A. Sommer, Jr. Conducted on October 1, 2001, by Richard M. Phillips. Securities and Exchange Historical Society.
  7. THE REGULATION OF SECURITIES MARKETS IN THE UNITED STATES. SEC Historical Society.
  8. Sommer Hits Transition SEC Report. The Washington Post.
  9. An Era Ends at the POB as A.A. Sommer, Jr., Retires. Journal of Accountancy.
  10. Securities Law Techniques. LexisNexis.com.
  11. THE IMPACT OF THE SEC ON CORPORATE GOVERNANCE*. Duke University.
  12. Federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934. 2 vols thru rel 138/Nov. 2020. THE ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLERS' ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA.
  13. IOSCO: Its Mission and Achievement. Northwestern University.
  14. The Securities and Exchange Commission — The Next 80 Years: The 15th Annual A.A. Sommer Jr. Lecture on Corporate, Securities and Financial Law. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  15. Speech by SEC Commissioner: Remarks at the Eighth Annual A. A. Sommer, Jr. Corporate, Securities and Financial Law Lecture. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  16. A Tribute tribute to SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt: Inaugural A.A. Sommer,Jr. Lecturer in Corporate Securities & Financial Law. Fordham University.
  17. Sommer receives AICPA gold medal. The CPA Journal.
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