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Rating:A Mutual Fund Legal Eagle Falls at 72 Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, September 8, 2017

A Mutual Fund Legal Eagle Falls at 72

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

A prominent mutual fund industry legal eagle, who once helped run a critical part of the SEC, died over Labor Day weekend at the age of 72.

Martin E. Lybecker
Perkins Coie
Chair, Investment Management Practice
Martin E. "Marty" Lybecker passed away on September 2 "as a result of injuries sustained in a fall," law firm Perkins Coie confirms. Washington, D.C.-based Lybecker was firmwide chair of Perkins Coie's investment management practice, firmwide co-chair of its family office services practice, and a senior lecturing fellow at Duke Law and an adjunct law professor at Georgetown.

An alumnus of UPenn Law, NYU Law, and the University of Washington, Lybecker worked in investment management law for more than 40 years. In 1972 he joined the office of chief counsel in the SEC's division of investment management. After teaching law at the University of Buffalo, Duke Law, and UNC for three years, he returned to the SEC as associate director of the division of investment management in 1978.

Three years later Lybecker went into private practice, and his resume reads like a who's who of investment management industry law firm giants. He worked at Drinker Biddle, then Ropes & Gray, then WilmerHale, before joining Perkins Coie in 2010.

Lybecker may be most well known for his work on family office law. Perkins Coie's statement calls Lybecker "the preeminent authority" in the field, and there's even an exemption known as "Marty's Rule," which allows family offices to avoid registering as investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.

Though he left the SEC more than three decades ago, Lybecker remained involved with the regulatory agency. He contributed to the SEC Historical Society, and twelve years ago he was a rumored contender to become head of the SEC's investment management division. He also formerly chaired the American Bar Association's business law section and was on the editorial board of The Investment Lawyer.

A former high school football fullback and linebacker, Lybecker was also a Little League baseball coach and a Baltimore Orioles fan. He collected pens and tracked the bobcat population on Kiawah Island (where he had a summer home) in South Carolina.

Norm Champ, partner at Kirkland & Ellis and former SEC investment management division chief, praises Lybecker as "incredibly knowledgeable" and more.

"He was one of the nicest guys in the investment management bar, one of the smartest guys ever in this area," Champ tells MFWire. "He always took the time to reach out to others ... People are really going to miss him."

Jay Baris, chair of the investment management practice at Morrison & Foerster, remembers Lybecker as "a friend and mentor."

"He was one of the giants of the 1940 Act bar," Baris tells MFWire. "He was always very generous with his time and insights. Marty had a passion for the law which spilled over to other people."

Lybecker was "instrumental in the development of regulations for business development companies," Baris says, and "was a pioneer in the use of leverage by mutual funds."

"He was the principal author of the famous release 10666" from the SEC, which was about investment companies' use of leverage, Baris says.

"It's a great loss, both on a personal level and a professional level," Baris says. "I will miss him."

"Marty was an extraordinarily accomplished lawyer," Susan Wyderko, president and CEO of the Mutual Fund Directors Forum, tells MFWire. "He was also a good and decent person. He will be greatly missed."

"I am deeply saddened by Marty's untimely passing," Paul Schott Stevens, president and CEO of the ICI, tells MFWire in an emailed statement. "We have lost one of the '40 Act bar's most accomplished figures, a man who was widely liked and admired by his colleagues."

Molly Moynihan, a partner at Perkins Coie, describes Lybecker as "a brilliant lawyer, who loved the details and history of the law, but ... also a business lawyer, who could solve the thorniest of legal issues for his clients." She reflected further:

He was erudite and down to earth, funny and kind. He had a habit of practical jokes, and a conversation could span the entire history of the securities laws. Over the past days, I have been in touch with dozens of people across the industry, and heard dozens of stories, each uniquely Marty. Most impressive to me have been stories of how he reached out to members of our profession in moments of adversity and difficulty. I learned a great deal of law from Marty, but mostly I learned how to be a lawyer.

"Marty generously shared his time and talent with his partners, associates, clients, friends and many others across the legal profession," states John Devaney, managing partner of Perkins Coie. "He was first and foremost a teacher, and his legal advice was always an opportunity to teach and mentor. He valued collegiality above all else and was a professional in the true sense. He will be much missed."

James Cox, a professor at Duke Law, lauds his fallen colleague's "encyclopedic knowledge" and "commanding understanding" of regulation in financial services.

"The basis for Marty's national stature was evident to anyone by the time he would be midway through the third sentence explaining an emerging problem or regulatory policy," Cox writes. "I frequently found myself puzzling over how Marty could have such a command of regulatory developments at the SEC, the FED, the Treasury, the Comptroller of the Currency, the FDIC, to mention just a few of the financial regulatory branches and know just what happened with every National and American baseball team last night. Marty was the ultimate baseball fan so much so that his regulatory harangues easily moved from the FED to the diamond to currency flows without missing a beat."

Another Duke Law colleague, Lawrence Baxter, remembers Lybecker as "a gentleman of even temper, fine judgment, exquisite courtesy and humor, and immense experience in the world of financial, particularly securities regulation."

"Marty always represented for me the quintessential wise counselor, the kind of indispensable lawyer any business person would be extremely fortunate to have," Baxter states. "I always relished his visits to the Law School for his classes and for our occasional lunches together. Marty's knowledge of the asset management industry will also be badly missed by all of us."

Lybecker is survived by his wife, Andrea, and by two sons. A memorial service is scheduled for November 11 at the University Club in Washington, D.C. 

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