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Hillary Phelps

Title: Partner
Firm: Chapman and Cutler LLP
Age: 38

Public finance runs in Hillary Phelps’ family.

When Hillary became a summer associate at Chapman and Cutler while at law school at Loyola University, she gained many interesting experiences such as working on a deal for Cook County, Illinois, which is home to Chicago.

When she told her father about her summer, she then realized her father actually worked in munis, too. Growing up, Hillary said, she never quite knew what her father did, just that it involved finance and money.

In actuality, her father, Devereaux Phelps, ran the municipal trading and underwriting desk for JPMorgan in New York. Now, she said she has someone in her family to talk shop with.

“It’s one of those things I never knew,” Hillary said. “I kind of feel like munis are in my blood.”

At Chapman, she grew to love public finance and the impact it could have. After being a summer associate, she became an associate and worked mainly with small governmental issuers, such as school districts in Illinois facing financial challenges.

In 2015, she joined the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Municipal Securities as senior counsel, where she worked on policy and educational initiatives. She was also one of the lead drafters of the most recent amendments to Rule 15c2-12 — a rule to promote transparency in the market.

“The outcome was a rule that serves its purpose of protecting investors in municipal securities, while also balancing the needs and concerns of issuers and obligated persons,” Hillary wrote.

She started a new job as partner at Chapman and Cutler in September and is eager to work with her peers again.

Hillary said her time at the SEC was like going back to school and she was able to get insight from the whole market, not just clients.

“I feel like I’m a much better lawyer for it and I think I will be able to serve my clients better given that experience,” she said.

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