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Wells Fargo Names New Deputy Legal Chief Amid Mortgage Retreat

Aug. 18, 2022, 9:30 AM

Wells Fargo & Co. promoted David McDonough to deputy general counsel for consumer and small business banking, the latest move in a years-long effort to reshape its law and compliance staff.

McDonough, who was an assistant general counsel, succeeds deputy general counsel Mark Metz, who is set to retire early next year. McDonough had led the consumer protection section of Wells Fargo’s law department in Washington.

The promotion of McDonough comes after the financial services giant named at least two other new deputy general counsel within the past year.

Wells Fargo confirmed plans this week to shrink its massive mortgage business following a string of scandals that led to some legal turnover.

McDonough had left Bank of America Corp. in 2014 to join Wells Fargo as leader of its fair lending team. His promotion to deputy general counsel was effective Aug. 1.

David Rice, a former managing counsel for regulatory enforcement at Wells Fargo, was promoted late last year to replace Douglas Edwards as deputy general counsel of the bank’s global commercial and securities division. Rice took over ahead of Edwards’ retirement from Wells Fargo earlier this year.

Edwards, who joined Wells Fargo more than a decade ago as part of the bank’s acquisition of Wachovia Corp., was named its acting general counsel in early 2020.

A Wells Fargo spokesman confirmed the appointments, the latest in a series of personnel changes at the San Francisco-based company, which has installed lawyers in various positions of authority.

Wells Fargo hired Ellen Patterson as its general counsel in March 2020, a few months after bringing on former Mayer Brown partner and one-time Commerce Secretary William Daley as vice chairman of public affairs.

Patterson currently owns nearly $1.7 million in Wells Fargo stock, while Daley company holdings are valued at more than $1.4 million, per Bloomberg data.

Neither lawyer was one of Wells Fargo’s five highest-paid executives during 2021, according to an annual proxy statement. The filing was signed by corporate secretary Tangela Richter, who joined Wells Fargo last year from American Express Co. as a deputy general counsel for enterprise functions.

Wells Fargo has brought on nearly a dozen former Big Law attorneys to its ranks within the past year, some of whom were hired to offset departures, according to Bloomberg Law data. The new recruits include senior lead counsel and corporate trust expert Robert Borhart, who returned to the bank a year ago this month after a six-month stint in the finance group at Ballard Spahr.

The new faces in Wells Fargo’s legal group follows the resignation two years ago of C. Allen Parker Jr., a former presiding partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore hired in 2017 to succeed the bank’s longtime legal chief James Strother. Parker was subsequently promoted to interim chief executive officer, a role that saw him receive more than $9.6 million in total compensation ahead of his exit.

Heidi Mason, another former Wells Fargo deputy general counsel and head of consumer banking legal, earlier this year was named general counsel for mortgage giant Freddie Mac. During her time at Wells Fargo, Mason worked with outside counsel to help the company negotiate a $1 billion settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over abusive consumer loan practices.

One Inc., a digital payments network for the insurance industry, announced Aug. 4 its hire of Wells Fargo senior counsel Marcus Liner as its first-ever general counsel.

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 Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com