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WilmerHale Nabs NY Fed Law Chief, Its Third Ex-Regulator in Year

June 28, 2022, 12:30 PM

Federal Reserve Bank of New York former legal chief Michael Held is joining WilmerHale, becoming the firm’s third hire of a past US regulator in a year.

Held will join WilmerHale’s securities and financial services practice in July after spending 24 years at the bank, most recently as general counsel.

He managed a legal department of more than 300 with a budget of $80 million and served as deputy general counsel of the Federal Open Market Committee, the 12-member body that sets monetary policy.

WilmerHale in October hired John Wells, former deputy enforcement director at the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In January, the firm brought in Frank Gorman, acting deputy head of the Federal Trade Commission consumer protection bureau.

“I can draw on my experience, my contacts throughout the US government and regulatory community and help clients see around corners,” Held said in an interview.

He will represent financial institutions and provide regulatory advice and crisis management guidance, and he will conduct internal investigations and culture reviews.

“He will be a major asset for our clients and a key part of the firm’s comprehensive financial services practice,” Susan Murley, co-managing partner at WilmerHale, said in a statement.

Held said he will also advise clients on the nascent regulatory regimes surrounding fintech products and ESG, or environmental, social and corporate governance guidance.

“When that all-consuming, sometimes existential crisis comes along, I can help manage it,” he said, “drawing on my experience from the Fed involving numerous crises like 9/11, the financial crisis, the pandemic and others.”

At the NY Fed Held advised senior leaders on issues including regulating financial institutions, anti-money laundering, corporate investigations and litigation. He developed the New York Fed’s first pro bono program and was an executive sponsor of an initiative to spur culture and conduct reform inside financial institutions.

He said he decided to leave the Fed in April after providing career advice to others that often encouraged them to take risks and try new things.

“I realized I should practice what I preach,” he said. “So I decided to take a leap and try something new.”

The NY Fed in April said YoonHi Greene and James Bergin, both deputy general counsel, will co-lead the legal department until a successor is found. That search process remains underway, a NY Fed spokeswoman said in an email.

Jane Roberts, managing partner of the Washington office of legal recruiting firm Macrae Inc., represented Held in his move.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com