Securities star


MLaw student wins $1,500 in Honigman essay competition

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Joanna Howard, a 3L student at the University of Michigan Law School, won the first annual Securities Law Writing Competition run by Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP. Her winning essay, "Constitutional Challenges to SEC ALJs," surveying recent challenges to the Securities and Exchange Commission administrative proceedings brought in federal courts, snagged her a $1,500 cash prize.

"Ms. Howard represents one of the many thoughtful young minds studying law today for whom we established this competition to inspire," said Raymond Henney, leader of Honigman's Securities and Corporate Governance practice group in the Litigation department. "We are thrilled to have chosen Ms. Howard as this year's award recipient, and we anticipate more opportunities to challenge and engage our future legal professionals."

Howard learned about the win while reading email as she sheltered from a summer rainstorm in the middle of New York City. "It was a really delightful surprise," she says. "I'm going to try to save the award money to see more of the U.S. I've so far only been to eight of the states and D.C., so I have a lot of ground to cover still."

Howard grew up in an English village, about half an hour north of Liverpool. "It's famous for red squirrels, sand dunes, and the presence of occasional soccer legends," she says, adding that Liverpool Soccer Club Manager Jurgen Klopp recently moved there.

Growing up on the coast imbued her with a spirit for adventure. "Far away places were calling me from an early age," she says. "I remember visiting Liverpool's Albert Docks when I was about 8 years old, going aboard a replica of the ships that took migrants to America long ago and wondering if I would ever get there myself."

Her path to MLaw started with bachelor's and master's degrees, both in ancient history, from University College London, where she focused on the classical Greek period, the late Roman Republic, and early Roman Empire. "I'd always been fascinated by other cultures and the universal themes that unite us despite all our differences," she says.

Wanting an intellectually challenging career that would allow her to put practical skills to use, Howard transitioned to law and trained as a solicitor at the Herbert Smith law firm in London, where she specialized in internal investigations for tax offenses, fraud and corruption, and in tax litigation.

When the time came to pick one of the two specialties, she took the plunge and moved to the Enforcement Division of the UK Financial Conduct Authority, where she expected to work on investigations of retail banks for misconduct in their dealings with consumers.

"But a happy incident of fate meant I was assigned to conducting investigations that spanned the Atlantic-Barclays Bank in connection with its LIBOR and EURIBOR submissions, and subsequently JPMorgan in connection with the 'London Whale' trades," she explains.

She worked with attorneys from D.C., New York, and Chicago, who were conducting their own investigations of the same conduct. While chatting one day with one of her counterparts from the SEC, she mentioned she had been thinking about spending more time across the pond and perhaps returning to studies. "He suddenly said, 'You should do a JD' and so began my next adventure," she says.

Coming to Michigan to study U.S. law has been a perfect opportunity. "It's presented me with many personal challenges and with excellent professional opportunities," she says. "I've met some truly inspirational people - professors, students, and people I've worked with over the summers."

After her 1L year, Howard interned for a federal judge in Manhattan. "It was a truly fascinating experience, and I began to understand more clearly how and why American and English people thought differently about the law," she says.

She spent last summer at WilmerHale in New York. "I worked on a range of interesting matters including work relating to securities enforcement, and also pro bono work such as drafting part of an appellate brief on a family law case," she says. "I'm very much looking forward to working there next year after graduation, in the Securities Litigation and Enforcement Practice Group."

Published: Mon, Oct 31, 2016