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Former CFTC General Counsel joins Reed Smith in Washington

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Jonathan Marcus has joined Reed Smith’s Energy & Natural Resources Industry Group (ENR) as a partner in the Washington office. 

His multifaceted practice includes advising clients on commodity, derivatives and digital asset regulation, litigating private suits involving the derivatives and energy markets in federal district and appellate courts, and handling government enforcement matters before the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

“Jonathan has deep experience in areas critical to our clients at the intersection of energy, commodities and financial services,” says ENR chair, Prajakt Samant. “Having argued and won at the United States Supreme Court five times, Jonathan also brings sterling appellate expertise, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the Firm.”

Marcus comes to Reed Smith from the Washington office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, which he joined in 2017, after serving as General Counsel of the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) from 2013-2017. 

At Skadden, Marcus played a key role in numerous high-profile litigation victories, including:

Prime International Trading Ltd v. BP PLC, in which Marcus represented a global energy company in a multi-district class action by futures traders alleging that producers, refiners and traders conspired to manipulate the price of Brent Crude Oil and Brent futures in violation of the Commodity Exchange Act. Marcus took the lead for the joint defense group in writing the winning argument in the Second Circuit that plaintiffs’ claims required an impermissible extraterritorial application of the CEA.

US Futures Exchange LLC v Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, in which Marcus represented the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade in an action by a former competing exchange alleging that CME and CBOT conspired to prevent competition in the market for exchange services for US Treasury futures in violation of the antitrust laws. Marcus played a leading role in obtaining summary judgment for CME and CBOT and a victory in the Seventh Circuit, which issued the first appellate opinion conferring implied antitrust immunity on a defendant under the CEA.

In the regulatory enforcement arena, Marcus has successfully advocated to the CFTC and SEC, on numerous occasions, for reducing and dropping threatened charges under the CEA and securities laws on behalf of global financial institutions.

At the CFTC, Marcus oversaw rule-making and other agency actions to implement the Dodd-Frank and Commodity Exchange Acts. Prior to his GC role, Marcus served as the CFTC’s Deputy General Counsel for Litigation from 2011-2013, successfully defending the CFTC’s Dodd-Frank rules against numerous challenges under the Administrative Procedure Act.

“Reed Smith’s global platform and its strength in financial services, energy and commodities provide a strong foundation for me to expand my practice,” Marcus says. “I’m impressed by the Firm’s collaborative culture and its innovative approach to client service.”

Marcus joins Reed Smith’s global Energy Regulatory practice, which covers an international spectrum of regulatory regimes, with colleagues in Washington, Houston, New York, London, Paris, Brussels, Athens, Singapore and other regions of import to the production and distribution of energy commodities. In Washington, Marcus joins energy regulatory leader and former FERC Commissioner, Colette Honorable, and partner Peter Malyshev, an expert in CFTC and SEC rulemaking under the Dodd-Frank Act; in New York, he also will work closely with partner, Christine Parker, who joined from Sullivan & Cromwell in 2019. 

Marcus also is a thought leader in the area of blockchain and digital assets, and he includes a major cryptocurrency exchange platform among his clients. A regular author and speaker on the topic, Marcus played a lead role in drafting the original American Bar Association (ABA) whitepaper, “Digital and Digitized Assets: Federal and State Jurisdictional Issues” and the December 2020 update.  

“We welcome Jonathan’s trifecta of experience in derivatives and energy regulatory matters, digital assets, and complex litigation and appeals, which is a perfect fit for our firm,” says A Scott Bolden, managing partner of Reed Smith’s Washington office. “Marcus bolsters our longstanding reputation as a firm devoted to excellence and justice at the highest levels of law.”

Marcus has devoted many pro bono hours to litigation on behalf of the underserved, often in constitutional law cases, including numerous amicus briefs for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in cases before the Supreme Court. A highlight of his pro bono work was Manning v Caldwell, in which Marcus represented a class of homeless alcoholics in successfully challenging a longstanding Virginia statute authorising criminal prosecution of “habitual drunkards” for alcohol possession or consumption. He wrote the briefs and presented oral argument to the en banc Fourth Circuit, which held the Virginia statute facially unconstitutional. 

Marcus earned his JD from Yale Law School where he was a notes editor of the Yale Law Journal and his BA magna cum laude with distinction in history from Yale College.

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