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Bank of America Taps In-House Veteran for Top Legal Post (1)

Sept. 10, 2021, 5:27 PMUpdated: Sept. 10, 2021, 8:10 PM

Bank of America Corp. on Friday announced the appointment of a new global general counsel in Lauren Mogensen.

Mogensen, currently head of global compliance and operational risk at BofA, will move into the bank’s top legal role at years’ end when incumbent David Leitch steps down, the bank said in a statement that also described other leadership changes.

Bloomberg News reported Friday that Leitch is one of several executives leaving their positions as the financial services giant promotes five new members, including three women, to its executive team.

Leitch has spent nearly six years at BofA, which hired the former Ford Motor Co. general counsel to lead its law department on Jan. 1, 2016. He succeeded former legal chief Gary Lynch, a BofA executive who took over as the Charlotte-based bank’s vice chairman prior to his own retirement in 2017.

In an email to Bloomberg Law, Leitch said that a specific date for his 2022 retirement and his post-BofA plans has not yet been determined. BofA CEO Brian Moynihan said in a statement that Leitch will serve as vice chairman prior to his exit next year.

That new role will see Leitch provide “his expert stewardship on key issues and priorities on our management team,” Moynihan said. “We will recognize David’s many contributions to our company and beyond as his transition nears.”

Leitch spent a decade at Ford prior to joining BofA in 2016. The former clerk for former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist went on to become a partner at a predecessor to what is now Hogan Lovells. Leitch was also chief counsel of the Federal Aviation Administration during the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He subsequently served as deputy counsel to President George W. Bush.

Bloomberg data shows that Leitch currently owns nearly $7 million in BofA stock. He was not one of the bank’s top five highest-paid executives during 2020, according to BofA’s most recent proxy statement.

Mogensen, Leitch’s successor, is based in Boston and a longtime colleague of Moynihan. Mogensen was previously a corporate partner at Boston-based law firm Edwards & Angell, now part of Locke Lord, where Moynihan worked prior to being hired in 1993 as a deputy general counsel at FleetBoston Financial Corp.

FleetBoston, which BofA acquired in 2004, hired Mogensen in 2001. She held several compliance and consumer and wealth management posts at FleetBoston before joining the general counsel’s office at the bank, according to past reporting by Bloomberg Businessweek.

In late 2010, BofA promoted Mogensen to deputy general counsel and corporate secretary. Earlier that same year, Moynihan officially took over as BofA’s CEO.

The bank announced in December 2009 that Moynihan would assume its top leadership role as federal regulators probed BofA over its abrupt firing of Timothy Mayopoulos, who was general counsel for the company a year earlier when it was in financial crisis-driven merger talks with Merrill Lynch & Co.

BofA ultimately completed its tie-up with Merrill Lynch by Jan. 1, 2009, during which time Moynihan stepped in as interim general counsel for 44 days despite having an inactive law license.

Moynihan, who had transitioned to the business side at FleetBoston in 1999, went on to hold similar roles at BofA, including head of consumer banking, before moving into the CEO role in January 2010.

At that time, BofA installed Edward O’Keefe, who had replaced both Moynihan and Mayopoulos as interim legal chief, to be its permanent general counsel. O’Keefe was effectively demoted the following year when BofA brought on Lynch, a former top lawyer at Morgan Stanley, to be global chief legal officer.

(Adds information on Leitch's career in seventh paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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