Dr. Hemma Ramrattan (LL.M.’10)
Senior Counsel, United States Securities and Exchange Commission
LL.M. in Securities & Financial Regulation
Bachelor of Laws with European Study (Spain), University of Exeter (1999)
Bar Vocational Course (BVC), Post Graduate Diploma in Law, University of West England (2002)
Ph.D. International Law, War, University of Exeter (2008)
What was your professional and/or academic background prior to attending Georgetown Law?
Prior to attending law school, I practiced law in the UK as a barrister: a specialist trial attorney, for approximately 8 years. At the same time, I held various teaching positions and taught law for approximately 6 years, first at the University of West England in Bristol and then at the Inns of Court School of Law at City University in London. While teaching, I was responsible for training and overseeing a number of student clinics and projects and my contributions earned me the Law Works Prize for Best Contribution by an Individual to Probono in the UK (2008). I also worked briefly with the United Nations, as an advisor to the Government of Guyana.
How did you start your career with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)?
I practiced criminal law in the UK and became increasingly interested in white-collar crime, securities regulation and the vibrant securities enforcement programs here in the United States. In order to learn more, I applied to the SEC for an internship even before starting my LL.M in Securities and Financial Regulation at Georgetown and my application was accepted. I ended up interning at the SEC through the summer, fall and spring semesters and eventually managed to secure an attorney position in the Enforcement Division of the SEC.
What academic courses at Georgetown should one pursue if one chooses to follow a similar career path?
For someone with similar career interests, I would think that the LL.M. in Securities & Financial Regulation would be hugely beneficial, albeit not a pre-requisite. A student interested at working with the SEC would do well to acquaint himself / herself with the various divisions at the agency, and the scope of work undertaken by each such division and identify individual professors and Georgetown alumni that work in their areas of interest. This can also help candidates to tailor their course selections to compliment their desired position within the SEC.
Would you recommend an externship?
I would highly recommend that students consider an externship and indeed seize any opportunity to gain practical experience, not to mention earning valuable references and the opportunity to create relevant writing samples. In my case, the externship ended up being a de facto interview for the job. Students can always supplement their academic goals by requesting permission to audit extra classes.
Would you please describe a typical work day for me?
No workday at the SEC’s division of enforcement can be characterized as typical. The work relates to investigation of potential violations of the federal securities laws, and prosecution of the same in the federal courts or as part of in-house administrative proceedings. Accordingly, the workday may entail review of tips, complaints and other documents filed with the SEC to determine whether there have been violations of the securities laws. An SEC enforcement attorney may use a variety of tools to investigate a matter, including for example issuing subpoenas to individuals, banks, or third party service providers calling for the production of documents, or the sworn testimony of individual witnesses.
What specific skill sets would come in handy for a similar job profile?
Prior experience in litigation and/or the conduct of investigations, along with good research, drafting/ writing and communication skills, are most useful for a candidate applying for a position with the SEC’s division of enforcement.
How has being a Georgetown Law alumna added to your professional (or personal) growth?
The Georgetown Law experience was instrumental to me in securing a position with the SEC and continues to benefit me even 5 years after graduating. It gave me the much-needed platform to meet and speak with people who work with the SEC.
What would be your advice for current and future Georgetown Law LL.M. students on how best to use their school year at Georgetown?
I would advise every student to make most of the unparalleled opportunity to interact with the distinguished faculty at Georgetown, given that a majority of them are leading practitioners and academicians in their respective fields of law. I recommend that students use their time at Georgetown to embed themselves in the Georgetown community, for example by joining student groups, participating in alumni events, offering to act as a research assistant to professors, creating and organizing events and opportunities to invite professionals to meet with students and even publishing scholarly articles with the help of professors and Georgetown journals. Finally, don’t wait until the end of the year to look for a job, there are opportunities you must seize from day one while on campus.
Dr. Ramrattan has answered these questions in her personal capacity. The Securities and Exchange Commission, as a matter of policy, disclaims responsibility for any private publication or statement by any of its employees.
Interview conducted by Anuradha Mohanty, Georgetown University Law Center, Master of Laws in Taxation Candidate, May 2016