Clients look to our Financial Institutions practice for assistance with complex, challenging federal regulatory and legislative, litigation, enforcement, and business transaction matters that impact them as banks, card issuers, insurance companies, broker dealers, mortgage lenders, database operators, on-line firms and other financial services providers. We have extensive experience in particular areas including retail financial services, privacy and information security, international banking, and anti-money laundering matters. Our lawyers are at the forefront of complex issues that impact financial institutions and providers of financial services here and worldwide.

Many of our attorneys gained valuable expertise and insights serving in major roles at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve Board, the Treasury Department, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Commerce, and the White House before joining the firm. The depth and experience of both the department as a whole and its individual lawyers have been acknowledged by a number of esteemed publications, including Chambers USA and the Wall Street Journal.


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Bruemmer, Russell J.

Russell J. Bruemmer

Chair, Financial Institutions Practice Group

+1 202 663 6804 (t)

Brown, Reginald J.

Reginald J. Brown

Vice Chair, Financial Institutions Practice Group

+1 202 663 6430 (t)


We help our clients achieve their business objectives efficiently and cost-effectively. Over the past 30 years, we have built a practice of extensive breadth and depth in regulatory, transactional, litigation and enforcement matters for banks and other financial institutions. In the past two years, we have:

  • Represented banking institutions and insurance companies in dozens of class action matters and other key litigations at all levels of the federal and state court systems. In the last two terms of the U.S. Supreme Court, we won two cases involving retail banking activities for financial institution clients: Beneficial National Bank and Beneficial Tax Masters Inc. v. Anderson; and Pfennig v. Household Credit Services, Inc.
  • Handled two of the largest recent credit card portfolio transactions: (1) we represented Bank One in its acquisition of Circuit City's credit card portfolio and the related infrastructure for $1.8 billion, and (2) we represented another major issuer in the sale of a $1.5 billion tranche of a portfolio co-branded with a major electronics retailer
  • Assisted a major card issuer in the negotiation of a core dedication agreement with one of the major bankcard systems
  • Advised Citigroup in negotiating for acceptance of its Diners Club cards within the MasterCard system
  • Helped lead industry efforts that successfully shaped proposed amendments to the principal federal consumer lending regulations
  • Counseled financial institutions on sensitive compliance and internal investigation matters, on related dealings with regulators, and on the development of corporate compliance programs
  • Helped to shape anti-money laundering regulations and drafted anti-money laundering compliance programs for numerous banks, broker-dealers, and myriad other types of financial institutions
  • Represented clients in formal and informal enforcement actions brought by or before several agencies, including the Federal Reserve Board, the Comptroller of the Currency, the SEC, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight and the Federal Trade Commission and assisted clients with anti-money laundering investigations.

Publications & News


July 31, 2014

FinCEN Releases Long-Awaited Proposal on Customer Due Diligence (CCD) and Beneficial Ownership

On July 30, the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued proposed regulations that would formalize certain financial institutions’ Customer Due Diligence (CDD) requirements and expand the degree to which those institutions must look beyond the nominal account holder to identify the natural persons who own or control certain legal entity customers.

July 25, 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a Privacy & Data Security Regulator

An article by Jonathan Cedarbaum and Elijah Alper, published in the May/June 2014 edition of the Fintech Law Report.

July 18, 2014

US Targets Major Russian Financial and Energy Firms in Sector-Specific Sanctions

This week, the United States announced new sanctions against Russia in response to what the Obama Administration describes as Russia’s continued attempts to destabilize Ukraine.

July 2, 2014

DC Circuit Issues Major Ruling Affirming Broad Applicability of Attorney-Client Privilege to Corporate Internal Investigations

On June 27, 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit issued a major decision clarifying the scope of the attorney-client privilege as applied to corporate internal investigations.

June 23, 2014

Sarah Pfuhl Named a “Rising Star” by New York Law Journal

Partner Sarah Pfuhl is one of 42 attorneys named a 2014 New York Law Journal “Rising Star.” This annual competition honors the top legal talent under 40 years old.

June 9, 2014

US Supreme Court Resolves Executive Benefits on Narrow Grounds, Leaving Unresolved Many Important Questions About Bankruptcy Court Authority

The US Supreme Court earlier today issued its much anticipated decision in Executive Benefits Insurance Agency v. Arkison, No. 12-1200 (June 9, 2014), a follow-on case to the Court's landmark decision in Stern v. Marshall, 131 S. Ct. 2594 (2011), regarding the scope of bankruptcy courts' authority under Article III of the Constitution.

May 23, 2014

Chambers USA Ranks Top WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices in 2014 Edition

We are pleased to announce the names of the individuals and practice areas that are ranked in the 2014 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business.

May 22, 2014

Eleventh Circuit Adopts Broad Definition of Government "Instrumentality" Under FCPA

On May 16, 2014, the Eleventh Circuit, in the first appellate decision on the issue, affirmed a broad definition of “instrumentality” of a foreign government within the meaning of the FCPA, providing important guidance in determining who should be considered a "foreign official" under the statute.

May 1, 2014

Whose Refund Is It? Ninth Circuit Holds Tax Refund Belongs to Bankruptcy Estate of Bank Holding Company, Not to Receivership Estate of Subsidiary Bank

The Ninth Circuit's recent decision in the IndyMac Bancorp bankruptcy case, which holds that disputed tax refunds belong to the bankruptcy estate of holding company IndyMac Bancorp, rather than to the FDIC as the receiver for IndyMac Bank, suggests that courts may limit the Eleventh Circuit decisions to their facts.

April 22, 2014

SEC To Examine Cybersecurity Preparedness at More Than 50 Registered Broker-dealers and Investment Advisers

On April 15, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations issued a "Risk Alert" announcing steps being taken to assess cybersecurity preparedness in the securities sector.


  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business hailed our financial institutions group with a nationwide ranking in 2014. Clients say, "they are the smartest, best people out there on financial services regulation matters," and laude them as "very smart, very knowledgeable and very client service-oriented. A pleasure to deal with." Practice Chair Russell Bruemmer and Partner Franca Harris Gutierrez are recognized individually as leaders in their respective practice areas.  
  • WilmerHale Partner and Group Chair Russell Bruemmer received individual recognition in the 2013 edition of Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Clients cited him as "very knowledgeable about the ways of Washington, and he knows all about how the SEC and other regulatory authorities work."
  • WilmerHale Partners Russell Bruemmer and Franca Harris Gutierrez were both selected to the 2013 list of The Best Lawyers in America for their work in banking law.
  • In 2013, IFLR100: The Guide to the World's Leading Financial Law Firms, recognized WilmerHale as a top firm in their financial services regulatory category.
  • The Wall Street Journal lauds the "quiet, behind-the-scenes approach" of our group, which is led by Russell Bruemmer, former Chief Counsel-Congressional Affairs for the FBI, Special Assistant to the Director of the FBI, Special Counsel to the Director of Central Intelligence, and General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency. The group includes Reginald Brown, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and White House Counsel liaison to the Treasury Department and independent financial services agencies; and Franca Harris Gutierrez.

Volcker Rule Resources

On December 10, 2013, the Federal Banking Agencies, together with the SEC and CFTC, adopted a Final Rule to implement Section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act (the Volcker Rule), which was added by Section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Our Securities and Financial Institutions teams have compiled for you these relevant resources to help reinforce your understanding of the Volcker Rule.

WilmerHale Publications and Presentations

Statutory and Rule Text

Agency Statements

Federal Reserve Statements on the Volcker Rule, December 10, 2013

FDIC Statements on the Volcker Rule, December 10, 2013

OCC Statement on the Volcker Rule, December 10, 2013

SEC Statements on the Volcker Rule, December 10, 2103

CFTC Statements on the Volcker Rule, December 10, 2103