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Wells Fargo Hires Ex-Santander Lawyer as Top Policy Adviser (1)

June 22, 2020, 6:03 PMUpdated: June 22, 2020, 7:52 PM

Wells Fargo & Co. is adding another in-house legal expert to work alongside new general counsel Ellen Patterson.

Michael Lipsitz officially joined the banking giant Monday as its new chief policy adviser, according to an internal Wells Fargo announcement viewed by Bloomberg Law.

He spent nearly five years with Santander Holdings USA Inc. as a senior executive vice president and chief legal officer for the Boston-based U.S. unit of Spain’s Banco Santander SA.

Lipsitz now reports to William Daley, a former Mayer Brown partner and one-time chief of staff to President Barack Obama who since November has served as a vice chairman and head of public affairs at Wells Fargo.

“Michael will focus on the company’s corporate policy development and implementation enterprise wide,” said Wells Fargo in its announcement.

Lipsitz will work across its risk, legal, operations, and public affairs functions and various businesses to “ensure an integrated approach to Wells Fargo’s governance and corporate policy creation, adoption, and execution,” the bank said.

Lipsitz will also play a “key role in how we monitor, measure, and communicate regulatory progress to multiple stakeholders,” Wells Fargo said. “His work will be critical to shaping our regulatory transformation and strengthening our foundation.”

Lipsitz’s hire comes three months after the company recruited Patterson from Toronto-Dominion Bank, where she had been group general counsel since 2017. Patterson’s addition ended a months-long search by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo for a new general counsel to replace former legal chief C. Allen Parker Jr., who left the company in March.

Patterson heads an in-house legal and compliance team that has gone through major changes in recent years following a series of scandals at the bank. In February, Wells Fargo finalized a $3 billion settlement with the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to resolve charges related to abuses by the company’s consumer banking division.

Other Additions

Lipsitz isn’t the only new lawyer hired under Patterson’s watch.

McGuireWoods announced May 26 that financial services litigation partner Cynthia Guerin would leave the law firm’s Dallas office to join Wells Fargo in June as senior company counsel.

Guerin joined McGuireWoods in February 2017 after more than 27 years in-house at Bank of America Corp., where she most recently served as an associate general counsel handling antitrust cases involving credit card interchange fees, multidistrict class action matters, and patent litigation. Guerin said in her own statement that she’s looking forward to working with McGuireWoods “in my new role.”

McGuireWoods has had a role in 2.8% of Wells Fargo’s U.S. litigation caseload within the past five years, according to Bloomberg Law data.

Locke Lord and Pasadena, Calif.-based Anglin, Flewelling, Rasmussen, Campbell & Trytten have collectively handled nearly 22% of Wells Fargo’s litigation portfolio during that same time frame, per Bloomberg Law data, followed by San Francisco’s Severson & Werson (6.7%), Snell & Wilmer (4.6%), Reed Smith (4.4%), and K&L Gates (3.5%).

(Recasts lead paragraph to clarify that Lipsitz will work alongside Patterson.)

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com