Norm Knickle JD '93
As an attorney for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's regional office in Boston, Mass., Knickle is passionate about holding investment companies and advisers accountable to a strict code of conduct.
"It's very important to send those people a message: 'You'll be held to a high standard. You must consider the investor you're harming,'" he explains. During Knickle's tenure, his office has taken on a range of challenging cases, from an insider trading scheme to a hedge fund that fabricated investment performance.
"It's wonderfully rewarding to be part of righting those wrongs, even if it's after the fact," Knickle says. "Being a part--at least in a small way--is really important. I love being a lawyer."
Knickle says the job is still challenging after six years. He primarily works on legal issues related to the Investment Advisers Act and the Investment Company Act, but he also assists with investigations, including conducting informal interviews. He finds that people will talk to him even if they haven't received a subpoena.
"People feel they didn't do anything wrong and want to prove it-or want you to think they haven't done anything wrong," Knickle explains. "You never know what information you'll get from interviews."
Knickle describes the position as his ideal job; it allows him to perform a public service while taking on challenging, complicated legal issues. He landed the SEC position in 2003, but had his sights set on it since law school.
After graduating in 1993, Knickle opened his own law firm in his hometown of Warwick, R.I., practicing civil litigation and business law. In 1998, he decided to pursue his interest in politics and successfully ran for the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Some of his accomplishments in office include authoring amendments to the Business Corporation Act and securing state funds for education and transportation projects.
After serving for four years, Knickle opted not to run again in order to devote himself to getting a job at the SEC. He went back to school to earn his LLM in banking and financial law and talked to people who were familiar with the SEC's hiring practices. "You've got to be persistent. You have to work for it," he says. "I consider myself lucky. It's part hard work and part luck."
Despite leaving the Rhode Island state legislature, Knickle hasn't quite managed to escape from politics entirely. In 2007, he was cajoled by neighbors into running for his Boston neighborhood association's 15-member board and now serves as its vice-president along with his wife, Mary, who was elected treasurer. The nonprofit group works on quality of life issues, plans social events, puts out a monthly newsletter and serves meals at a local homeless shelter.
The group is one signature away from getting a fence that encloses the neighborhood park repaired by the city--a project that languished for nearly 30 years before the board recently revived it.
Like Knickle's career success, all it took was hard work--and a little luck.
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