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Pilar Mata, - Executive Director, Tax Executives Institute

Alumni spotlight

Michael Freedman

Senior Vice-President, Associate General Counsel, LPL Financial

Michael attended University of Florida Levin College of Law and joined Eversheds Sutherland in 2006. Between 2006 and 2015, he practiced in the Securities Enforcement Group where he defended financial institutions and associated individuals in investigations and litigation involving the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other securities regulators.
In 2015, Michael joined Raymond James and spent four years in-house as Assistant General Counsel. He continued to focus on enforcement matters and internal investigations. Michael then joined the legal department at LPL in 2019, holding the title Senior Vice-President and Associate General Counsel. In addition to defending LPL in regulatory matters, Michael is heavily involved in the firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. He is currently the Head of LPL’s Securities Enforcement Legal team.

What are your earliest memories from your time with us?

My earliest memories involve my summer associate experience. I was part of the largest summer class (over 40 associates) and worked closely with the securities enforcement team. From the beginning, I appreciated the firm’s collaborative culture and exposure to clients and substantive work early on.

For example, I co-led an internal investigation as a first year associate involving allegations of fraud. I also had the opportunity to travel for witness interviews, regulatory testimony and client meetings.

What was it about the firm that appealed to you?

It was a comfortable place for me from day one. The firm was more open and accepting than what I expected from BigLaw and I enjoyed the diversity in my practice group and the Atlanta office. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised, particularly with respect to the firm’s involvement in the community and public service and in the LGBTQ+ community.

How did Eversheds Sutherland influence your development?

What stood out for me was the firm’s professionalism. There was – and still is – a level of professionalism that lacked pretense and arrogance. The trust and empowerment I experienced from the partners I worked with was special. They provided me with great training, opportunities to develop and a sense of confidence.

I am a better lawyer because of those experiences. And, of course, I made some lifelong friends; Olga Greenberg , a litigation partner, being one of my closest.

What is your favorite firm memory?

I tried a pro bono case with a senior lawyer when I was a summer associate. It was a huge win and we got a $15,000 award for our client, including the maximum amount of attorney fees and damages allowed by the applicable statute.

Another highlight was when we were advocating on behalf of a transgender woman from Honduras who was seeking asylum after experiencing threats and abuse in her home country. We ultimately won and she was able to stay in the United States. That was incredibly rewarding.

How did your in-house move to Raymond James come about?

I thought I would stay with Eversheds Sutherland forever. I was invested in the firm personally and professionally and was aiming for partnership. In 2015, I was spending most of my time on Raymond James matters and they offered me an unexpected opportunity that I could not turn down. In that role, I continued to work with my Eversheds Sutherland colleagues, but this time as the client!

Can you tell us about your current role at LPL?

I was made aware of a great opportunity at LPL by an Eversheds Sutherland alumnus and learned that the open position could evolve into a leadership position on the regulatory team.

This, in fact, happened and I am now head of regulatory enforcement at LPL. My team, which includes four senior lawyers (we are currently expanding and looking for more senior talent), handles all the regulatory enforcement work for the company.

What is your approach to leadership and management?

Leadership involves thinking broadly about people’s career and growth while making sure they are provided with the right opportunities.

Running a team in any corporate environment can be challenging. However, I’ve certainly brought a number of attributes from Eversheds Sutherland that I aim to apply at LPL, such as excellence, professionalism and having high expectations of the people around me.

What about your involvement with DEI?

DEI started for me from a selfish place, candidly. Early in my career, I remember finding myself in homogenous groups, which, frankly, was a bit uncomfortable. I felt a calling to make things better and more inclusive. I also recognize the many and varied different experiences of my professional community and it is my passion to create a diverse and an inclusive environment.

I also understand first-hand that we’re better when we bring diverse experiences to the table. When consulting with outside law firms, I notice that a diverse group of lawyers provides a well-rounded perspective, which often leads to better results.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of moving in-house?

Learn how to be an amazing lawyer. From there, be humble and realize there are always opportunities to develop and learn new skills, such as public speaking, leading discussions and managing meetings.

Also, develop your communication skills. It’s easy for us to talk with other lawyers; but in-house, I am often interacting with business professionals and financial advisors who have a different corporate vocabulary and no legal training. Therefore, I have to adjust my communication style, approach, and demeanor.

How do you de-stress outside of work?

I try to get enough rest, eat well, and achieve a healthy balance between work and home – but I don’t always succeed!

I meditate a lot, which is a huge part of my life. I do yoga two or three times a week. This is a different pace from my younger self when I competed in endurance races, including IronMan, ultra-marathons, and marathons. More recently, I have been restoring an old house I bought in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is a lot of fun.

If you would like to add Michael Freedman to your network, you can connect with him via LinkedIn .