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Russell D. Duncan

fax +1 202.552.2377

Russell D. Duncan defends financial services executives, professionals, and companies in matters involving investigations by the SEC, PCAOB, DOJ, and other regulatory agencies in Washington, DC, and throughout the United States.

Russell is one of the few attorneys in the nation to have served as senior trial attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in DC, trial counsel for the SEC, and enforcement counsel for the PCAOB. As a result, he understands the tactics of prosecutors, regulators, and government enforcement agencies. Russell has used his experience as a government lawyer to assist clients in over 700 matters. His clients, including CEOs, CFOs, accountants, directors, and other financial services professionals, describe Russell’s confident temperament and negotiation skills as crucial to his success in resolving their issues with the government, frequently without expensive litigation. They also know that he has the trial experience to prevail against the government in court, if necessary.

In his career, Russell has used his broad government experiences to help hundreds of businessmen, accountants, broker dealers, and other securities professionals successfully navigate matters involving insider trading, securities fraud, accounting fraud, PCAOB standards and rule violations, FTC, CFTC, and FEC violations, whistleblower actions, and FINRA arbitration cases for registered representatives and investors.

Russell also has litigated and tried cases successfully in federal court, administrative hearings, and arbitrations for his clients with challenging issues before the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, the PCAOB, and other federal and state regulatory and criminal authorities.

His recent work at the PCAOB, as an Assistant Director in Enforcement, has provided Russell with an insider’s perspective into the PCAOB’s confidential investigation and hearings process, including an assessment of the PCAOB attorneys and accountants involved in those matters. He can provide guidance to accounting firms and accountants in complying with the increasingly complex PCAOB accounting rules and standards and in responding to examination deficiencies.

Russell has a deep practice representing clients in areas such as:

  • Securities Enforcement, White Collar, and Government Investigations and Trials
  • PCAOB Inspections and Enforcement Matters
  • FINRA Arbitrations and Investigations
  • College Student Disciplinary Defense
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Financial Regulatory and Compliance Programs
  • Responding to Regulatory and Grand Jury Subpoenas


J.D., cum laude, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
A.B., magna cum laude, Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts

State Bar Licenses

District of Columbia, Maryland


SEC Enforcement and FINRA Arbitration

  • Convinced the SEC to dismiss its administrative proceeding against a multimillion-dollar hedge fund after the SEC had filed its complaint.
  • Won summary judgment for a general counsel of a public company and dismissal of the lawsuit the SEC had filed in federal district court.
  • Convinced the SEC not to file charges against a CEO and his wife who the SEC previously had stated it intended to charge with insider trading. Entered the case after the SEC had sent clients a Wells notice and persuaded SEC to reverse its decision and end its investigation.
  • Won summary judgment for four directors of a public company in derivative securities litigation resulting from an SEC investigation.
  • Convinced the SEC staff to end its investigation without bringing any charges against a public company and its officers in an investigation of alleged financial fraud.
  • Won summary judgment in federal district court for a national investment advisor and its officers in a private securities class action litigation resulting from an SEC investigation.
  • Persuaded the SEC staff to end its investigation of a hedge fund without bringing any charges in the investigation of mortgage-backed securities.
  • Currently representing a financial advisor in a combined SEC and U. S. Attorney’s office investigation. Currently representing broker in FINRA arbitration regarding U-5 defamation by former firm.

PCAOB Enforcement

  • Convinced the PCAOB Enforcement Division to end its investigation and decline to charge a Big Four partner in an international PCAOB matter following a two-year investigation.
  • Convinced Enforcement Staff to close investigation of Northeast regional accounting firm with no charges.
  • Convinced Enforcement Staff to close its investigation of West Coast accounting firm and individual partner and resolve the matter through remediation in the inspections.
  • Resolved accounting firm’s failure to file timely Special Reporting Form 3 with no action by Enforcement.
  • Currently representing a Big Four partner in an investigation by the PCAOB.

White Collar and Other Criminal Matters

  • Won acquittal in a federal district court trial for the president of a Midwestern company on charges of criminal fraud and conspiracy arising out of an FDA investigation.
  • Convinced U. S. Attorney’s Criminal Division not to pursue its criminal investigation of a government contractor arising out of alleged false claims.
  • Obtained acquittal for government official in a state court trial alleging personal misconduct.
  • Currently representing an executive of a government contractor in combined DOJ and Antitrust criminal and civil investigation.
  • Currently representing a business owner in a DOJ criminal investigation.

Immigration Defense

  • Convinced federal government prosecutors to agree to probationary sentence for individual involved in bringing illegal workers into the United States.
  • American Constitution Society National Convention, “Dodd-Frank and the Future of Securities Litigation,” June 2011
  • The National Law Journal Breakfast Series, “Dodd-Frank and the New SEC Whistleblower Program,” April 2011