Held is scheduled to start at WilmerHale on July 18 in the firm’s New York office. His practice will focus on representing financial institutions, providing strategic regulatory advice and crisis management guidance; conducting internal investigations and culture reviews; and supporting innovation within ESG and fintech business segments, particularly on the evolving regulatory perimeter.
Held’s addition to the firm is just the latest example of the major strategic investments the firm is making in its Financial Institutions practice as part of its enduring commitment to provide clients in that sector with the best legal talent and services in the market. Other recent additions to that practice include Frank Gorman and John Wells, former senior officials at the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, respectively.
“I am thrilled to join WilmerHale. The firm has one of the top financial services practices in the industry, and the caliber of the lawyers and staff is second to none,” Held said. “The firm's collaborative, cross-disciplinary culture and its longstanding commitment to both client service and public service make it a natural fit for me.”
A recognized expert on corporate governance and senior advisor to numerous Reserve Bank presidents and senior policy makers, Held has extensive experience handling a variety of banking and financial services regulatory issues, corporate investigations, enforcement, and litigation. Held has been at the forefront of the New York Fed’s efforts to improve bank culture, having written and spoken extensively on the topic.
Held also played a key role in the New York Fed’s response to the industry’s two most significant financial crises during the past 15 years – the 2008 global financial crisis and the market turmoil resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, Held helped shepherd the transition from LIBOR, and has advised on matters involving access to Fed financial services and master accounts, as well as sanctions arising out of numerous international conflicts.
Held brings a practical, business-minded approach to his work, having served not just as a regulator but also as the senior executive over the New York Fed’s own compliance department, with responsibility for implementing effective risk-based compliance programs pertaining to anti-money laundering, anti-fraud, sanctions, privacy, and ethics.
Held started at the New York Fed in 1998 and ended his tenure in June 2022. He joined as a staff attorney and rose through the ranks to become General Counsel and Executive Vice President in 2016. In that position, he led the New York Fed’s Legal Group, which included a team of about 300 legal, compliance and law enforcement staff with a budget of about $80 million.
Additionally, Held served on the New York Fed’s executive committee and was Deputy General Counsel of the Federal Open Markets Committee, the independent board governing the Federal Reserve System, which is chaired by Jay Powell and includes the Federal Reserve Governors and Reserve Bank presidents.
During his tenure at the New York Fed, Held developed strong working relationships across the U.S. government, including with Congress, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the New York State Department of Financial Services, as well as with many foreign central banks, including regulators in the U.K., the European Central Bank, Dubai, Israel, and China.
“The firm will benefit greatly from Michael’s decades of experience and the depth of knowledge he gained during his time at the Federal Reserve. He will be a major asset for our clients and a key part of the firm’s comprehensive financial services practice,” said Susan Murley, co-managing partner at WilmerHale.
Held earned his law degree from New York University School of Law in 1995 and his bachelor's degree from Cornell University. He is currently a member of the advisory board for the NYU Law Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement.