"She's very smart, she's tough when she has to be and an incredibly quick study. She's just a very effective lawyer," Jones said.
Joseph Allerhand, who co-heads Weil, Gotshal & Manges' securities litigation practice, said "she will be tough but fair and she knows both sides."
Robert Giuffra, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, noted that White would be one of the more experienced SEC chairs in history based on her broad experience.
Alan Vinegrad, a partner in the Covington & Burling's white collar defense and trial practice groups, said, "if she thinks that change is required, she'll be bound and determined to bring it about and I think she'll succeed."
"She's smart, she's experienced, she's savvy and she knows how to get things done. And she leads," Vinegrad said. "Those are the qualities that position demands."
Other attorneys said they believed her work in the U.S. Attorneys office signaled a tough approach at the SEC.
"Her nomination is a strong message from the Obama administration that SEC will be a tough cop on Wall Street," said Eugene Goldman, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery. He also said she would be fair and "bring her knowledge of the inner workings of companies to her job."
Marc Powers, securities litigation partner at Baker & Hostetler, said her nomination is a "clear signal by the administration that it still intends to keep up the enforcement efforts of that agency and to continue to be tough on wrongdoers."
"Her willingness to go back inside the government suggests to me that she still has a fondness and a feeling of duty to the government calling of bringing charges and cases against people who are wrongdoers" and to protect the investing public, Powers said.
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said, "Mary Jo is one of the lions of the New York bar. She is fantastic. She is someone of great stature whom all of us in the legal community greatly respect and admire. It couldn't be a better appointment."