Coates Lear

Coates Lear


Coates Lear specializes in assisting companies and individuals involved in government inquiries and enforcement proceedings, especially investigations and actions by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Coates also advises on compliance matters, with a focus on asset management, and represents clients in complex litigation.

Before joining the firm, Coates spent eight years in the SEC's Division of Enforcement, where he led investigations involving a wide range of issues and conduct, including public company reporting, securities offerings, mutual fund disclosure and private fund management. From April 2012 to September 2015, he was a member of the Enforcement Division's Asset Management Unit, a specialized unit devoted to investigating potential securities law violations in the investment management industry. In 2014, Coates also served a short-term detail to SEC Commissioner Kara M. Stein, advising the commissioner on numerous recommendations from the Division of Enforcement.

Before joining the SEC, Coates litigated on behalf of companies and individuals while practicing at another global law firm, where he focused on class actions, securities litigation, white collar defense and insurance-related matters. Coates began his legal career as a law clerk to US District Judge James R. Spencer in the Eastern District of Virginia.


Since joining Squire Patton Boggs in late 2015, Coates’ experience has included:

  • Representing a public manufacturing company in a wide-ranging SEC financial reporting investigation involving issues arising from both its US and foreign operations.
  • Representing a registered private fund adviser in an SEC enforcement inquiry and counseling the adviser through a subsequent SEC examination.
  • Representing a public data company in an SEC investigation concerning potential financial reporting violations.
  • Representing individual witnesses subpoenaed to testify in SEC enforcement actions.
  • Representing the franchisee of a large hotel chain in a multi-state Attorney General investigation.
  • Conducting an internal investigation for a public company into potential information leaks from its board of directors.
  • Conducting an internal investigation concerning a US public company’s operations in China.

During an eight-year tenure with SEC's Enforcement Division, Coates led numerous investigations that resulted in successful enforcement actions, including:

  • A settled administrative proceeding against a hedge fund sub-adviser, finding that the sub-adviser defrauded the fund and its investors by misrepresenting and omitting material facts and misappropriating fund assets.
  • A settled administrative proceeding against an investment adviser, finding that the adviser failed to disclose multiple conflicts of interest when making recommendations to clients.
  • A settled administrative proceeding against a hedge fund and mutual fund adviser, finding that the adviser failed to seek best execution for clients.
  • A settled administrative proceeding against a mutual fund adviser and fund distributor, finding that they made misleading disclosures concerning two bond funds that suffered substantial losses in the 2008 financial crisis as a result of their heavy reliance on certain derivative contracts.
  • Litigated actions against the alleged perpetrators of multimillion-dollar Ponzi schemes in New Mexico and California.
  • A litigated action against an investment adviser for allegedly misappropriating client assets under the guise of taking advisory fees.
  • A litigated action against multiple individuals and entities that allegedly helped to finance a publicly traded company through the unregistered distribution of billions of shares of company stock.
  • A litigated action against a former public company CFO who allegedly caused the company to book improper revenue and misled the company's auditors about the transactions at issue.


  • University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1998
  • Amherst College, B.A., 1991


  • Colorado, 2002
  • District of Columbia, 2000

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  • Speaker, “Global Compliance Forum: Minimizing Risk to Protect Your Business Interests,” Squire Patton Boggs, November 1, 2017
  • Panelist, “Current Trends in Securities and White Collar Defense,” Rocky Mountain Securities Conference, Denver, May 2017.
  • Presenter, "Corporate Governance During in Crisis," RR Donnelley SEC Hot Topics Institute, Cleveland, November 2015.
  • Speaker, Squire Patton Boggs Global Compliance Forum, Cleveland, October 2015.