Regions Financial Corp. is preparing for what the future holds by lining up a successor for its longtime top in-house lawyer.
The Birmingham, Ala.-based parent company of southeastern lender Regions Bank announced its hire this week of Tara Plimpton to succeed the retiring Fournier “Boots” Gale III as a senior executive vice president and general counsel. Plimpton spent the past 17 years in-house at General Electric Co., most recently as an Atlanta-based general counsel of the conglomerate’s global operations unit.
Plimpton, reached at home as she prepares to start her new job April 13, said she began talking with Regions before the Covid-19 pandemic shook financial markets.
Plimpton acknowledged it’s hard to ”sit on the sidelines” during a critical time, but said she has no qualms about joining Regions. The bank holding company was founded in 1971, although its legacy banks have been around for more than a century.
“It’s a great business with a long history, sound fundamentals, and a great leadership team, so this doesn’t concern me for a second,” Plimpton said. “If you look back at some of the other issues we’ve had, whether it was 2008 or the aviation business during SARS, we recovered from that. This too will pass.”
Plimpton added she has “big shoes to fill” in replacing Gale, who has been Regions’ top in-house lawyer since 2011.
Gale is a founding partner of Birmingham-based law firm Maynard, Cooper & Gale, where he will keep an office across the street from Regions’ headquarters as he slides into a senior advisory role before permanently retiring from the company later this year, said Plimpton, who will relocate to Birmingham with her family and report directly to Regions president and CEO John Turner Jr.
Regions gave Gale a total compensation package of $2.65 million in 2019, Bloomberg Law reported in a recent roundup of notable general counsel paydays. Gale also served as corporate secretary at Regions, a role that will now be filed by the bank’s chief governance officer, former Adams and Reese partner Hope Mehlman. She will report to Plimpton.
Aside from Regions, several other financial services companies have recruited new in-house legal chiefs this month.
- NCB Management Services Inc., a Trevose, Pa.-based debt collection agency, March 17 announced its hire of Abigail Pressler as general counsel and a member of its management team. Pressler was most recently an associate at Sessions, Fishman, Nathan & Israel in Tampa. The law firm, which has an office in Philadelphia, has done litigation work for NCB.
- United Community Banks Inc. said March 3 it had brought on Womble Bond Dickinson corporate partner Melinda Davis Lux in Greenville, S.C., as general counsel and corporate secretary. Lux replaced Bradley Miller, who left UCB last month to become general counsel and chief risk officer at Priority Technology Holdings Inc., an Alpharetta, Ga.-based consumer payments company.
- GWG Holdings Inc., a Minneapolis-based financial services company, disclosed in a March 3 securities filing that Lennie Nicholson had joined it as general counsel and corporate secretary. Nicholson, most recently an associate general counsel at LegacyTexas Bank, replaced Craig Opp, now general counsel and chief compliance officer at Minneapolis-based Rice Park Capital Management LP. Bloomberg Law reported in December on GWG’s ties to The Beneficient Co. Group LP, a financial services company that reshuffled its legal group.
- College Avenue Student Loans LLC said March 2 that Dena Glaeser would take over as its chief legal officer. Glaeser, a former Ballard Spahr associate, joined the Wilmington, Del.-based fintech company and student lender from Fifth Third Bancorp, where she spent nearly the past two years as a vice president and senior counsel.
- Sozo Investment Partners LLC, a private investment firm operating in the technology space, March 2 announced its hire of Michael Sage, co-chairman of the business restructuring and reorganization practice at Dechert in New York, as a senior partner and general counsel. Sage joined Dechert in 2009, having previously been a partner at O’Melveny & Myers, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Dewey Ballantine, and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.