W&L Law Professor Lyman Johnson Advises on New Online Exhibit Exploring Financial Regulation

Lexington, VA Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Lyman P.Q. Johnson
Lyman P.Q. Johnson, the Robert O. Bentley Professor of Law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, served as an advisor for a new virtual exhibit tracing more than 200 years of the U.S. financial industry's efforts to regulate itself. The exhibit, The Institution of Experience: Self-Regulatory Organization in the Securities Industry, 1791-2010, went online Dec. 1 at www.sechistorical.org.

The exhibit offers a view of the role self-regulation has played in America's financial history and informs current debates regarding financial reform. The exhibit also provides access to over 4,300 documents, photographs and papers relating to the history of financial regulation.

Johnson, who serves on the Museum Committee of the Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society, advised the exhibit's curators on early drafts of the site.

"This new gallery is significant in a day and age of ever-increasing direct government regulation of the securities and finance area," says Johnson. "We often forget that a critical dimension of regulation in the securities industry has historically come from 'self-regulation,' which is overseen by the SEC as a government agency but is quite different than direct, heavy-handed regulation unmindful of capital market imperatives and realities."

Some of the historical themes highlighted in The Institution of Experience include how New Deal legislation and the policies of the Franklin Roosevelt administration made possible the creation of the SEC, and how computer and internet technology have transformed self-regulatory organizations faster than government regulators.

The website www.sechistorical.org is built and administered by the SEC Historical Society, a non-profit organization.  Both the virtual museum and archive and the Society are independent of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and receive no government funding.

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