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Bank of Hawaii General Counsel Had to Wait for ‘Paradise’ Job

Dec. 14, 2020, 10:00 AM

It was hard enough for Patrick McGuirk to beat out a few hundred applicants and get the job as Bank of Hawaii Corp.’s general counsel.

It was another challenge to get there.

Hawaii’s decision to impose a strict quarantine to stop the spread of Covid-19 forced McGuirk to postpone his legal transition until later this year.

When McGuirk finally moved he took only what fit on a plane, which gave him “motivation to engage in some necessary streamlining.” It was worth it, he said. “The end result is you find yourself in paradise.”

The Honolulu-based regional commercial bank confirmed before Thanksgiving it selected McGuirk as the successor to longtime legal chief Mark Rossi who announced he would retire.

McGuirk’s LinkedIn post last month announcing his new in-house gig in Honolulu received more than a hundred comments, some of which noted the teal flower-print shirt he’s wearing in his profile photo on the professional networking platform.

In an email, McGuirk told Bloomberg Law he already has a closet full of the “aloha” shirts, which he said are acceptable business attire in Hawaii.

“Everyone remarks on how happy I look in the picture,” McGuirk said. Surfing, he said, is on his to-do list.

He joined the Bank of Hawaii after a half-dozen years as general counsel for Troy, Mich.-based Flagstar Bancorp Inc.

Prior to that, he spent a handful of years working for for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in Arlington, Va. He’s also a former partner at Sidley Austin and associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in New York.

Pandemic Planning

At the time McGuirk was approached about the Bank of Hawaii role in late January and early February, Covid-19 had not yet taken hold in the U.S.

McGuirk said he wasn’t looking to leave Flagstar, but when he heard about the role and the locale, his interest was “piqued for a number of reasons.”

The opportunity to live and raise his children in a more multicultural community than suburban Detroit was one factor, he said, as was the presence of Bank of Hawaii’s chairman, president, and CEO Peter Ho.

Ho, who has held the top job for a decade, has provided much-needed stability and savvy during a turbulent time, McGuirk said.

Joining the bank, Hawaii’s second oldest, would be a departure from the situation McGuirk inherited at Flagstar, which was emerging from a period of regulatory turmoil when he was hired in 2014.

Flagstar CEO Alessandro DiNello joined the bank in 2013, a year in which it paid multimillion-dollar settlements to resolve mortgage-backed securities fraud and stock-drop claims. DiNello’s predecessor, Joe Campanelli, is still litigating with Flagstar.

McGuirk said he takes “great pride in the small part I played” in helping Flagstar transition from a mortgage-centric bank to one that under DiNello’s leadership tripled in asset size, emerged from two regulatory consent orders, and converted itself into a “much more traditional commercial bank.”

Flagstar Senior Deputy General Counsel Paul Borja has succeeded McGuirk as interim general counsel. Borja said his former boss “will be similarly successful” in Hawaii and wished him well.

McGuirk credited his time at Flagstar for making him a more well-rounded legal chief, from decision-making to strategic considerations.

“Getting to help figure out ‘What’s next?’ is what drew me to Bank of Hawaii,” he said.

Hawaii Bound

Edward Hudson, Bank of Hawaii’s chief people officer, told Bloomberg Law in an email that the bank received a few hundred resumes for its general counsel job.

Kimberly Fullerton, an attorney and consultant at executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart, helped cut down the candidates to those with the appropriate banking and financial services background.

It took a few months to assess the top applicants, but McGuirk quickly rose to the top of the field, Hudson said.

McGuirk said the interview process was “conducted almost entirely virtually, right up until the end when I was able to schedule a trip to Honolulu.” Before that he participated in 25 meetings with bank personnel.

McGuirk and Rossi didn’t know one another personally when Fullerton contacted McGuirk about the job. But the two in-house legal chiefs grew closer during the elongated transition process.

Rossi’s willingness to postpone his retirement gave McGuirk more time to figure out how to relocate his family—he has two young daughters—during a global pandemic.

Over time, McGuirk realized Hawaiian companies often require more in-depth vetting processes for executive recruits.

“Companies need to make sure that a candidate is the right fit not only for the organization,” he said, “but also for the geography—as they say, Hawaii is unique.”

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