Jeff Kern is a partner in the Governmental Practice and serves as a Managing Partner of Sheppard Mullin’s New York office. Jeff also heads the firm’s Securities Enforcement & Litigation Team and is a charter member of the Blockchain & Digital Assets Team.

Areas of Practice

Jeff's practice encompasses white collar defense, securities and insurance regulation, compliance, and litigation as well as internal investigations.  He represents broker-dealers and associated individuals who are the focus of SEC, FINRA and other regulatory investigations and provides guidance in the FINRA membership application and business expansion process. He has particular expertise with SRO litigation, corporate investigations and investigative testimony.  He also has experience assisting broker-dealers obtain approval to conduct a digital assets business.  

In addition, Jeff is a seasoned litigator who has conducted over 70 trials and SRO disciplinary hearings. He has also conducted numerous criminal, regulatory and private sector investigations, including those involving bank, securities and immigration fraud, tax evasion, the False Claims Act, asset forfeiture, wage and hour violations, and Food & Drug Administration compliance.  His practice also encompasses government and regulatory subpoena response.  He speaks frequently on litigation and investigative strategy and has appeared numerous times in print and on network television as a legal commentator.

Before joining Sheppard Mullin, Jeff served as Senior Regional Counsel in FINRA's Department of Enforcement and Senior Trial Counsel in the New York Stock Exchange Enforcement Division. In both positions, he investigated and prosecuted violations of NYSE, NASD, FINRA and SEC rules and federal securities laws. His work at the NYSE and FINRA included investigations, trials and appeals involving Rule 10b-5 fraud, insider trading, market manipulation, mutual fund switching, supervision, research, advertising, private placements, anti-money laundering, financial reporting, sales practice violations, outside business, conversion, and trading improprieties committed on the Exchange Floor.

At FINRA, Jeff served as the District 10 liaison to the greater New York law enforcement community and oversaw the training program for Member Regulation staff in New York and Long Island. He was also a frequent presenter at FINRA conferences and training exercises. In November 2010, Jeff received the FINRA Outstanding Achievement Award for his work on a complex investigation involving a prominent financial commentator and US Senate candidate.

Prior to FINRA, Jeff spent 11 years in the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, prosecuting and investigating  homicides and other high profile cases and serving as Director of Training and Chief of the Investigations Bureau. He has served as Managing Director and Regional Counsel for Decision Strategies, an international investigative services provider, and as Senior Trial Consultant for DOAR Communications, a litigation consulting firm.

From 1993 to 2013, Jeff served as an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, teaching a curriculum he developed on the use of strategic planning and persuasive presentation in the law. He is also a volunteer instructor in Cardozo Law's Intensive Trial Advocacy Program and a guest lecturer at Columbia, Fordham, Brooklyn and St. John's Law Schools.

Jeff oversees the firm's New York Summer Associate Program and is a member of the office’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee.



Best Lawyers, Criminal Defense - White Collar, 2020-2021

Super Lawyers, Securities Litigation, 2018

Legal 500, Government Contracts, 2017

2010 FINRA Outstanding Achievement Award



Corporate & Securities Law Blog Posts

Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade Blog Posts

Eye on Privacy Law Blog Posts

Law of the Ledger: Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Blog

Media Mentions

Speaking Engagements

  • "Luncheon Spotlight Address: From the Office of the Whistleblower," A.C.E.S. Compliance Summit, April 18, 2017
  • "How Does Boston Bombing Compare to Zodiac Case?" Bloomberg TV, April 19, 2013
  • "Labor & Employment Law Update: Spring 2011 Seminar," New York, New York, May 19, 2011
  • "Diversity in Law Practice 2011: Legal Update, Inclusion Strategies, and Work-Life Balance," Practising Law Institute, New York, NY, January 25, 2011
  • "Litigating Anti-Money Laundering Cases," 2010 FINRA Enforcement Conference, Alexandria, VA, November 2, 2010
  • "Taking On-the-Record Testimony," 2008 FINRA Market Regulation Conference, Rockville, MD, September 25, 2008
  • "So, You Want to be a Plumber? Investigating PIPES Violations," 2007 FINRA Enforcement Conference, Washington, DC, October 21, 2007
  • "Supporting Securities Litigation: A Behind the Scenes Look at How the Big Dogs Win Their Cases," Brooklyn Law School Securities & Market Regulation Program, Brooklyn, New York, March 2007
  • "Investigative Interviewing," Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy Professional Development Program, New York, NY, April 26, 2006
  • "How to Use Jury Consultants to Help You Win at Trial," New York City Bar, New York, NY, October 25, 2005
  • "Using Technology in SRO Disciplinary Proceedings," NYSE CLE Series, New York, NY, November 2004
  • "Electronic Techniques for Communicating to Juries," New York State Bar Association, Commercial Litigation Section, Annual Conference, Saratoga, NY, October 9, 2004
  • "Your Pants Are on Fire! How to Detect Deception in Employment Interviews," Legg Mason Annual Management Meeting, Baltimore, MD, October, 2002
  • "In the Cross-Hairs: Taking Respondent Testimony in NYSE Disciplinary Hearings," NYSE CLE Series, New York, NY, June 2002
  • "Prosecutions in Developing Democracies," US Department of Justice and Department of State Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance & Training Program, Tirana, Albania, June 2001




New York City Bar, Criminal Advocacy Committee

Chair, Board of Directors of the Kings County District Attorney Alumni Association

Digital Media


J.D., Duke University School of Law, 1987, Executive Committee, Moot Court Board

B.A., Boston College, 1984, magna cum laude


  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • United States District Court, Southern District of New York
  • United States District Court, Eastern District of New York
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