THE FIRM Many financial professionals regard this high-end firm as one of the finest in the area. It has a long and deep history in the financial services sector, and has been involved in many of the key deals and regulatory developments over the past year. The group remains active in sophisticated M&A work, notably advising Bank of Montreal on its $4.2 billion acquisition of Marshall & Ilsley, and representing ING in the $9 billion sale of ING Direct to Capital One. It handles equally impressive work on the enforcement side, including a number of matters relating to the ongoing fallout from the 2008 crisis. The team represented Moody's in a high-profile SEC investigation into its role in the subprime securitization market, and has represented clients such as Wachovia and Zions Bancorporation in regulatory investigations by the OCC. The group also acts as regulatory counsel to some of the world's leading financial institutions, including AIG, American Express, GE and RBS.
Client Service "Their client service is first-rate – they are always available, always prompt in responding and able to translate the technical arguments into easily understood concepts that non-lawyers can understand."
Commercial Awareness "The senior partners are plugged in to what is happening at the Fed and other regulatory agencies. They have an inside track as to how the regulators are thinking about the issues."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The iconic Rodgin Cohen is widely considered to stand head and shoulders above other lawyers in the financial services arena, and has achieved near-legendary status for his M&A, enforcement and compliance work: "He has done more deals than anyone, ever. He has a thoughtful, even-handed, no-nonsense approach and the courage to say what he thinks without screaming or pounding the table. He has a long history of results because people trust him."
Mitchell Eitel is a regulatory expert with a particular focus on M&A, being described by market observers as "a heavyweight" and "a recognized leader in his field." He has recently handled key deals on behalf of HSBC, including the sale of its US credit card-related businesses to Capital One and of 195 US retail bank branches to First Niagara.
Donald Toumey is noted for his regulatory practice, providing compliance advice to clients such as banking association The Clearing House. Sources note his "extensive financial and regulatory knowledge, domestic and international experience, and clear strategic guidance."
Michael Escue is a "fantastic and practical" bank regulatory lawyer, say sources. He often works closely with Cohen and Eitel on advising clients such as Goldman Sachs and J.C. Flowers.
Mark Menting handles compliance and transactional matters for the firm's banking clients. He has been heavily involved in the sale of ING Direct to Capital One, and is described as having "an excellent relationship with the regulators."
Michael Wiseman is "one of the best banking lawyers in the country," according to interviewees. His broad practice encompasses compliance, enforcement and M&A, and he has been central to the firm's relationships with such high-caliber clients as UBS, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.
Observers are impressed with Andrew Gerlach, saying that he has the talent to become one of the most prominent of the next generation of financial regulatory lawyers. He focuses particularly on M&A, and is highlighted as "a smart, pragmatic, diligent lawyer with a terrific ability to achieve solutions."
The "excellent" Samuel Seymour has been highly active in advising clients such as Zions Bancorporation on enforcement actions by agencies including the OCC and FinCEN.
Karen Patton Seymour represents some of the firm's most prestigious clients, including Wachovia and Goldman Sachs, in regulatory investigations brought by the SEC, the DOJ and others.