Klein: You’ve reinvented yourself numerous times. What motivated you to make these professional changes and what does it require to take chances and be successful at new ventures or second — and even third, fourth — acts?
Karmel: It had to do partly with my personality, that I was always interested in learning something new. But it also had to do with the ups and downs of my career and the ups and downs on Wall Street. I left the SEC the first time because I was kind of bored with just doing fraud cases and all my friends had left. A lot of them went in-house and were the first compliance people at brokerage firms as the field of legal compliance was taking off. I always wanted to be with a big law firm, thinking, “That’s the real practice of law.” But when I graduated from law school, I just didn’t get that opportunity; the firms were not hiring women.
By the time I left the SEC, some firms had started hiring women as associates. I left the first firm I went to because I did not become a partner and I had the opportunity to go to Rogers & Wells as a partner. Then I had the great fortune of being able to go back to the SEC as a commissioner. Afterward, I went back to Rogers & Wells, and then into teaching. That’s the abbreviated version of my career.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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