Coates Lear specializes in assisting companies, boards of directors, board committees and individuals in connection with internal investigations, government inquiries and enforcement proceedings. Drawing on his extensive government experience, Coates has particular expertise in matters involving the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He also helps clients evaluate and improve their compliance programs, 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 financial 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.

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

    • Representing a public manufacturing company in an SEC investigation involving a wide range of financial reporting and internal control issues, including inventory cost accounting, lease accounting, expense accrual, revenue recognition and journal entry controls.
    • Conducting an internal investigation into executive compensation issues on behalf of the audit committee of a chemical manufacturing company.
    • Conducting an internal investigation into securities trading issues on behalf of the audit committee of a public manufacturing company.
    • Representing a former public company controller in an SEC investigation into potential financial reporting violations.
    • Representing a registered private fund adviser in an SEC enforcement inquiry and counseling the adviser through a subsequent SEC examination.
    • Representing a consumer data company in an SEC investigation concerning potential financial reporting violations and a separate federal grand jury investigation.
    • Representing numerous individual witnesses subpoenaed to testify in SEC enforcement matters.
    • Representing the franchisees 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


    • U.S. Dist. Ct., Dist. of Colorado

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    • Quoted, Law Week Colorado, “SEC ‘Laser-Focused’ on Cybersecurity Issues,” March 5, 2018.
    • Quoted, Law Week Colorado, “Supreme Court: Whistleblowers must report to SEC for Dodd-Frank Protections,” March 5, 2018.
    • Quoted, Law360, “SEC’s Reversal on ALJs Could Affect its Forum Choices,” December 15, 2017.
    • Quoted, Law Week Colorado, “SCOTUS Hears Arguments Over Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Definition,” December 14, 2017.
    • Quoted, Law360, “Trump’s SEC Likely to Shrink Back Where White’s Expanded,” November 17, 2017.

    • Co-author, “Yahoo Fined US$35 Million by SEC for Misleading Investors by Failing to Disclose Cybersecurity Breach in First Case of Its Kind,” Squire Patton Boggs Client Alert, April 2018.
    • Co-author, “Investment Adviser Annual Reminders and SEC Examination Priorities in 2018,” Squire Patton Boggs Client Alert, February 2018.
    • Co-author, “SEC's Reversal On ALJs Could Affect Its Forum Choices,” Law360, December 12, 2017.
    • Speaker, Squire Patton Boggs Global Compliance Forum: Minimizing Risk to Protect Your Business Interests, 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.

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