Paul M.G. Helms - Former SEC Enforcement Attorney - McDermott Will & Emery


A former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement attorney and counsel to the Director of Enforcement, and the head of McDermott’s SEC Enforcement Defense Group, Paul Helms defends clients facing high-stakes SEC investigations, complex internal investigations, and securities litigation nationwide. He regularly counsels public companies, investment advisers and international accounting firms, as well as their executives and directors. He understands the business and personal challenges that come with any SEC or government investigation and has secured positive outcomes for multiple clients confronting those risks.

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Large-Scale SEC Investigations and Securities Litigation

  • Advised the board and special committee of a national utility holding company during internal and government investigations arising from an alleged bribery scheme involving the largest regulated utility in Illinois, one of the highest-profile white collar and regulatory matters in Chicago and Illinois, enabling the holding company to avoid criminal charges
  • Represents the former chief legal officer of one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems in US Attorney’s Office, SEC and internal investigations, shareholder derivative actions and securities class actions arising from allegations that the utility bribed state officials for favorable legislation and regulatory treatment in the most significant alleged public corruption scheme in the history of Ohio. In the private litigation, secured a settlement that fully indemnified and released the client and dismissed of primary fraud claim
  • Conducted a large-scale, high-profile internal investigation into foreign exchange transactions at a public healthcare product company, which allegedly affected reported net income and retained earnings by approximately $582 million. Required analysis of complex transactions between foreign subsidiaries and sophisticated Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and disclosure concepts. Achieved a favorable settlement for the client that was cited as one of the SEC’s most significant examples of effective cooperation

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  • Legal 500 US, Recommended Lawyer, 2023


  • Episcopal Charities, external General Counsel
  • Cambridge Forum on SEC Enforcement, Steering Committee member
  • PLI Internal Investigations Conference, Co-Chair
  • Chicago Bar Association Securities Law Committee, former Co-Chair


Vanderbilt University Law School, JD, 2003
College of William and Mary, BA, cum laude, 2000

District of Columbia

US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin