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Cravath Adds Debevoise Partner in a Rare Lateral Hire

Feb. 16, 2021, 4:28 PM

Cravath Swaine & Moore has brought on Debevoise & Plimpton bank regulatory partner David Portilla, an unusual move for the Wall Street firm, which tends to focus on internal talent rather than lateral hiring from competitors.

Portilla, a former Davis Polk & Wardwell associate, advises international and domestic banks and other financial institutions on transactional, regulatory, supervisory and governance matters. He assists clients with the Volcker Rule, as well as standards applicable to large banking organizations and the regulation of nonbank financial companies.

Portilla’s addition in New York is the first lateral hire for Cravath since 2018, when former Southern District of New York Judge Katherine Forrest rejoined the firm. Cravath still leans heavily on its own homegrown lawyers, and in October elected 11 new partners to its ranks, its largest partner class in at least a decade.

Prior to joining Debevoise in 2013, Portilla served as the former senior policy advisor to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Stability Oversight Council , a federal organization established by the Dodd-Frank Act to monitor risks to the U.S. financial sector.

“David’s experience in and outside of government will enhance Cravath’s ability to advise our financial services clients across a broad array of issues,” Faiza Saeed, Cravath’s presiding partner said in a statement.

Portilla served a member of the initial team that established FSOC and helped develop its operating procedures and governance structures. He was also the lead staffer responsible for coverage of Dodd-Frank Act implementation and worked on several significant matters, including the interagency rule writing process for the Volcker Rule.

“Cravath has advised on many of the most transformative transactions in the banking and financial services sector,” said Portilla in a statement. “I look forward to supporting the Firm’s clients in navigating the increasingly complex financial regulatory landscape.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Chris Opfer at