Linda Thomsen, a veteran

Securities and Exchange Commission

attorney, was named the agency's director of enforcement on Thursday, becoming the first woman to hold the post.

Thomsen will succeed Stephen Cutler, who announced last month that he is stepping down to return to return to private practice. Sources say Cutler is expected to become a partner with Sullivan & Cromwell, a big New York law firm.

Thomsen, who has been with the SEC since 1995, was previously the enforcement division's deputy director since 2002. During her tenure, she has overseen the investigation and litigation of numerous cases, including the agency's ongoing Enron inquiry.

"Linda is a highly accomplished attorney with a proven record of effective advocacy on behalf of the nation's investors,'' said Chairman William Donaldson. "The skills Linda has exhibited during her tenure at the commission instill great confidence in her ability to lead this important division."