Robert L.D. Colby, a deputy division director at the Securities and Exchange Commission who has played a key role in all major trading and market issues - including municipal disclosure and credit rating agency oversight - plans to leave Feb. 20 to become counsel at Davis Polk & Wardwell here.

Colby, 53, who has been at the SEC for the past 27 years and is currently deputy director of the division of trading and markets, will face several restrictions on his work at the law firm. Among them, he will not be able to represent anyone before the SEC for one year. He also will not be able to work on any matter that he worked on or that was worked on under his supervision at the commission, although this restriction does not apply to rules.

Colby's move to Davis Polk will follow that of Annette Nazareth, former director of the SEC's trading and markets division, who became a partner at the firm last year.

Both SEC chairman Mary Schapiro and division director Erik Sirri said yesterday that Colby will be missed and that it will be difficult to replace him.

"I've had the honor and privilege of knowing and working with Bob Colby for more than 20 years and I've always appreciated and admired his keen intellect and expertise, and his sincere dedication to public service and investor protection," Schapiro said. "While we will greatly miss him and wish he would stay, Bob's legacy will long remain a vibrant part of the commission and its work on behalf of investors."

"For more than 27 years, Bob Colby has brought expertise, wisdom, and leadership to the work of the division," Sirri said. "In so many ways, we have all relied on Bob's judgment and guidance, and his departure will leave a gap in the division that will be tremendously difficult to fill."

Colby joined the SEC staff in 1981 as a staff director in the division, which was then called market regulation. He was promoted to chief counsel in 1986 and to deputy director in 1993. He was acting director of the division from August 2005 to September 2006.

He received many awards, among them the Distinguished Government Executive Award, the highest government-wide award for senior executives, in 2000 and both the Meritorious Government Executive Award and the SEC's Distinguished Service Award, in 1998.

Colby graduated with highest honors from Bowdoin College in Maine and obtained a law degree with honors from Harvard Law School.

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