NEW YORK — Credit Suisse First Boston, facing a federal probe into its handling of initial public offerings, announced that it had hired Gary Lynch, a former Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement official, to be its general counsel.

Mr. Lynch, 51, a partner at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell for 12 years, will assume the post on Oct. 1. As head of the SEC’s enforcement division from 1985 to 1989, Mr. Lynch oversaw cases against Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, and Drexel Burnham Lambert.

His presence may pave the way for a settlement on the IPO investigations and free up chief executive John Mack to focus on cutting costs and reviving profit growth, observers said. The previous general counsel, Joseph McLaughlin, will become chairman of the CSFB Foundation Trust, the firm’s philanthropic arm.

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