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


April 8, 2014

WilmerHale Shortlisted for Chambers USA Award for Excellence in IP, Securities and Financial Services Regulation

WilmerHale's Intellectual Property and Securities Departments, and its IP Litigation, Securities Litigation and Enforcement, Broker-Dealer and Financial Institutions Groups have received special recognition by Chambers USA as part of this year's Awards for Excellence program.

April 1, 2014

Sanctions and Trade Update: Russia and Ukraine

In response to recent events in Ukraine, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Switzerland, and other nations have adopted a series of targeted asset freezes and travel bans, which vary in scope, as well as broader trade restrictions against Russia.

March 14, 2014

WilmerHale’s Elijah Alper Moderates Panel on Bitcoin Regulations

The panel consisted of senior Treasury Department officials and industry professionals explaining Bitcoin and detailing how the government's anti-money laundering rules apply to the virtual currency, among other issues.

March 10, 2014

Ideas for Reforming the False Claims Act

An article by David Ogden and Jonathan Cedarbaum, published in the March 10, 2014 edition of Corporate Counsel.

February 20, 2014

Update: SEC's Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force

On February 11, Margaret McGuire, Vice Chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force (Task Force), participated in a DC Bar panel discussion to review the objectives, administration and early initiatives of the Task Force since its formation was announced by the SEC last July.

February 20, 2014

New Guidance on Financial Services and Marijuana-Related Businesses

The Obama Administration took steps last week to potentially pave the way for marijuana growers and related businesses to obtain core financial services.

November 27, 2013

Understanding Iran Sanctions for US Business: The New Agreement Brings Some Change But Much is Left the Same

On November 24 in Geneva, the United States and the five other members of the P5+1 reached an initial agreement with Iran with the aim of ensuring that Iran's nuclear program will be entirely peaceful. Under the agreement, the United States and the EU will ease certain sanctions on Iran for a period of six months. However, this "limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible" sanctions relief means that US and foreign firms must closely monitor the implementation of the agreement.

November 22, 2013

AML: A Corporate Governance Issue

An article by Russell J. Bruemmer and Elijah M. Alper, published in the November/December edition of The Banking Law Journal.

November 20, 2013

On the Road to Legitimacy? Regulators Appear Ready to “Maximize the Good” of Virtual Currency

Supporters of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies will be heartened by the generally positive discussions that took place at two Senate committee hearings earlier this week, in which both regulators and senators signaled that forthcoming regulation should not aim to stifle this emerging technology.

November 1, 2013

WilmerHale Among U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” and Again Named International Arbitration “Law Firm of the Year”

The 2014 edition of the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list names WilmerHale as “Law Firm of the Year” in International Arbitration—this is the second consecutive year that the firm has won this honor—and honors WilmerHale as a first-tier law firm in 27 national and 60 metro-area rankings.


  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business hailed our financial institutions group with a nationwide ranking in 2013. Clients say, “they do a great job for us ... they are very responsive and timely." 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 include 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