Harvey Goldschmid

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GOLDSCHMID--Harvey J. Columbia Law School Prof. Harvey J. Goldschmid, a renowned corporate governance expert who served as a commissioner and the top attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and played a key role in implementing one of the most sweeping federal securities laws in U.S. history, died on February 12. He was 74. A beloved professor and mentor to generations of Columbia law students, Goldschmid was a two-time recipient of the Willis L.M. Reese Prize for Excellence in Teaching. He described his classroom philosophy in a 2013 interview, explaining that the most important part of teaching was "to think about not only what the law is, which students need to know, but what it ought to be." Goldschmid was a dedicated public servant. He served as general counsel of the SEC from 1998 to 1999, as special senior adviser to then Chairman Arthur Levitt in 2000, and as an influential commissioner for the agency from 2002 to 2005. "Very rarely in life do you meet a scholar and government official who both makes great contributions to public policy and is a good man. In my lifetime, I have never met one who was the equal of Harvey J. Goldschmid," Joel Seligman wrote in Columbia Law Review. Goldschmid's term began just after the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a law that aimed to improve the quality of corporate financial reporting. He served during some of the most tumultuous times in the agency's history, as regulators and legislators called for stricter controls for public companies. He was a strong advocate for shareholders and defended the agencys efforts to curtail corporate fraud. "As a sometime historian of the Commission," Seligman wrote, "I am confident that he has become the most influential SEC Commissioner who did not become a Chair in the agency's history. Since this is an agency that has been blessed with extraordinary Commissioners, I mean this encomium as the highest possible praise." A New York native, Goldschmid was born into a working-class family in the Bronx in 1940. In moving testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs during his confirmation process in 2002, Goldschmid spoke about his family and their influence on him. "My parents believed in our financial markets, and, because of Social Security and their investments, retired to a relatively comfortable life in Florida," he said. "Our nation, as this Committee has indicated, is now witnessing the most dramatic business scandals that have occurred during my professional life. On a very personal level, I feel the pain of the retirees and the investors whose futures have been jeopardized." After his service at the agency, Goldschmid remained an influential voice in economic policy. After the financial collapse of 2008, he advocated strongly for the creation of a systemic risk agency. In 2012, he was named to the resulting Systemic Risk Council. Goldschmid, served as counsel to Weil, Gotshal &Manges until his death. He was a prolific writer in the fields of corporate, securities, and antitrust law. He also served as a consultant on antitrust policy to the FTC, a member of its Task Force on High Tech/Innovation Issues, a public governor and chair of the Regulatory Policy Committee of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a trustee of the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation, a director of the National Center on Philanthropy and the Law, a director of Transparency International-USA, and as a vice chair of the Center for Audit Quality. Goldschmid was a magna cum laude graduate of both Columbia College and Columbia Law School. After law school, he clerked for Judge Paul Hays of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit and then practiced law at Debevoise & Plimpton. He joined the Columbia Law Faculty in 1970. He is survived by his wife Mary and his three children, Charles, Paul, and Joseph, each of whom earned a J.D. degree at Columbia Law School. Funeral services will be held privately. A memorial service is planned at Columbia Law School. Donations in his memory are being directed to the Columbia Law School Annual Fund. Our hearts are heavy with the weight of this great loss.
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