Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society

The Enforcement Division: A History

Enforcement before the Division, 1934 - 1968

Enforcement and the Division of Trading and Markets

Cary and then Cohen also directed new resources to enforcement. While each Division at SEC headquarters had a small group specializing in enforcement, during the 1960s the chairs built up the enforcement program in the Division of Trading and Markets. From 1961 to 1964, that program opened forty new cases a year, “approximately as many cases as it had” opened since the SEC’s establishment in 1934, a pace that continued for the rest of the decade.(1) With more work came more attorneys; the handful of attorneys doing enforcement in Trading and Markets at the beginning of the 1960s grew to over a hundred by the end of the decade.(2) Yet the Chairs’ biggest impact came from the individuals they found to lead the new enforcement efforts, Irving Pollack and Stanley Sporkin.(3) Both would become legends at the SEC.

Manuel Cohen with Irving Pollack, 1967
Manuel Cohen with Irving Pollack, 1967

Irving Pollack joined the Commission in 1946 after making a connection through his brother, Harry, later director of personnel at the Commission.(4) Like many hires, he benefited from the SEC’s faith in grit and talent over pedigree; a graduate of then-unsung Brooklyn Law School (as was Manny Cohen), Pollack rose rapidly and by 1961 was Assistant General Counsel. That year Cary named him to a new position in the Division of Trading and Markets after he concluded “that [the Commission] needed a more broadside national program for enforcement,” one that would move beyond the regional offices’ focus on boiler rooms and bucket shops and look at the “more clever national schemes that we were encountering in the 1960s.”(5) Two years later he was joined by Sporkin, a graduate of Penn State and Yale Law who would become an equally fabled character but was then a relatively junior attorney coming off of working on the Special Study of the Securities Markets.

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(1) Seligman: 361.

(2) Id.: 363

(3) Id.: 362-63.

(4) Irving Pollack interview: 1.

(5) Pollack Fireside chat: 2.

Related Museum Resources


July 22, 1963
image pdf (Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

Oral Histories

16 January 2002

Irving Pollack

  • - Part 1
  • - Part 2
  • - Part 3
  • edited transcript (pdf)


25 September 2002

Roundtable on Enforcement

Moderator: Irving Pollack, Stanley Sporkin
Presenter(s): Theodore Altman, David Doherty, Benjamin Greenspoon, Theodore Levine, Alan Rosenblat, Thomas Rae, Richard Rowe, David Silver, Theodore Sonde, Wallace Timmeny
  • - Session I Only
  • edited transcript (pdf)

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