Nine law partners with deep regulatory roots are jumping today from the Washington firm Crowell & Moring LLP to the District office of the international firm Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP.

Lawyers with securities experience are hot commodities at many law firms because they are needed to advise clients caught up in accounting probes and related work stemming from the 2002 corporate accountability law known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, said Richard J. Morvillo, the departing group's senior member.

An undetermined number of junior lawyers also may shift to Mayer, Brown, which is one of the many large law firms that courted the partners as a group.

"It's a reflection of how busy people are in the post-Sarbanes-Oxley era," said Morvillo, a former Securities and Exchange Commission official who now defends executives caught up in criminal and civil probes at U.S. Foodservice, Capital One Financial Corp. and Enron Corp.

Morvillo said the shift to a bigger law firm will help him and his colleagues make connections with a wider array of clients. Crowell has about 300 lawyers; Mayer Brown has about 1,300.

His securities law group is composed of enforcement and white-collar defense specialists, including former SEC enforcement lawyers Pat S. Conti and Joseph I. Goldstein; former NASD enforcement chief counsel Bruce M. Bettigole; former federal prosecutor Peter White; and securities and arbitration lawyer Jeffrey Robinson.

The team also includes experts in the regulation of the $8 trillion mutual fund industry, which has been beset by trading abuses in the last few years.

Kathryn B. McGrath directed the SEC's investment management division, which regulates mutual funds. Stephanie M. Monaco served for years as a lawyer in the unit. Elizabeth M. Knoblock has years of private sector experience as a former general counsel with Templeton Investment Counsel LLC and several other companies.

-- Carrie Johnson