The Securities and Exchange Commission may be taking a pounding from congressional Republicans, and its reputation still bears the scars of Bernie Madoff’s long-undetected Ponzi scheme, but the agency showed Thursday that it can attract highly credentialed talent.

The SEC named as deputy general counsel Anne K. Small, whose résumé includes an undergraduate degree with honors from Yale, a law degree with high honors from Harvard, the presidency of the Harvard Law Review (a position once held by President Obama), and perhaps the most prestigious career-booster for young lawyers, a clerkship at the U.S. Supreme Court, where she worked for Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

Small, who is scheduled to start at the SEC next week, will be leaving a partnership at the law firm WilmerHale, which she joined in 2003.

If or when she returns to private practice, she’ll have new experience to offer clients.

In the news release announcing her appointment, Small demonstrated that she has already mastered the bureaucrat’s art of the anodyne sound bite, saying, “I look forward to serving the SEC and the public interest in advancing the significant goals of the agency.”

Small could not immediately be reached for comment.

She replaces Mark Cahn, who worked for 20 years at WilmerHale before joining the SEC in 2009. Cahn was promoted to general counsel last month. He replaced David Becker, whose inheritance of an investment account with Madoff recently became the subject of an inspector general’s investigation and some highly unflattering attention from Congress.