Franca Harris Gutierrez


Vice Chair, Financial Institutions Practice Group

Gutierrez, Franca Harris

Franca Harris Gutierrez is Vice Chair of the Financial Institutions Practice Group. She leads one of the country’s preeminent banking and financial services practices from the firm’s Washington DC office, where she advises domestic and international banks, mortgage servicers, student loan servicers, consumer lending companies, and emerging financial services providers on complex regulatory, enforcement, and transactional issues. Ms. Harris Gutierrez is an active member of the firm’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Working Group and the FinTech Group. She joined the firm in 1999 from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.


Ms. Harris Gutierrez maintains an active enforcement practice and defends banks, card issuers, mortgage servicers, auto finance companies, student loan servicers, and other financial services providers before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal banking agencies, and other federal and state enforcement bodies including the New York Department of Financial Services. Ms. Harris Gutierrez has been involved in nearly every enforcement action the CFPB has taken against a large national bank and in numerous enforcement actions taken by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Reserve, and the FDIC since the financial crisis. She has deep experience with the most complex and high-stakes enforcement actions, often defending parallel proceedings by two or three federal regulators and numerous state regulators or attorneys general.

Ms. Harris Gutierrez is also a leader in the areas of retail financial services and consumer protection. She has advised large banks and newly regulated entities on adapting to the CFPB since its inception. She has counseled clients in preparing for and responding to some of the CFPB’s first supervisory matters, and she provided strategic and technical advice on the rulemakings mandated by Dodd-Frank. Ms. Harris Gutierrez regularly advises consumer financial services clients on a wide variety of legal issues, including the federal consumer financial protection laws, mortgage servicing rules, the Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity Acts, state consumer protection and licensing laws, and data security and privacy laws.

Ms. Harris Gutierrez has long represented financial institutions in their highest priority and most challenging regulatory issues and manages all aspects of her clients’ regulatory relationships. Her work before the Federal Reserve, the OCC, and the FDIC, spans charter, license, and other applications; bank capital and affiliate transactions; bank powers and activities; controlling and non-controlling investments; anti-money laundering compliance; responses to supervisory examination issues; and preparation of comment letters, analyses, and strategies for agency rulemakings.

Since helping to launch the first online bank during the dot-com era, Ms. Harris Gutierrez has provided regulatory counsel to some of the most innovative and successful financial services ventures, including new product development for prominent peer-to-peer, mobile, and online-only lending and payments platforms. She regularly advises clients on the complex regulatory, transactional, outsourcing, and vendor management issues raised by cutting edge financial innovations.

Ms. Harris Gutierrez also maintains an active transactional practice, representing financial institutions in the negotiation and documentation of acquisitions and divestitures, reorganizations, joint ventures, and technology transactions.


Prior to joining WilmerHale, Ms. Harris Gutierrez was an attorney in OCC. As part of the Office of the Chief Counsel, she handled special projects on top priority policy issues for the agency. Before working in the Chief Counsel's Office, Ms. Harris Gutierrez served in the OCC's Northeastern District in New York, where she handled a broad range of regulatory and enforcement matters.

Representative Matters

Investigations and Enforcement Actions 

  • Represented numerous financial institutions and financial services companies in responding to Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs), Notice and Opportunity to Respond and Advise (NORAs), and Proposed Action Response Requested (PARR) letters.  
  • Represented multiple prominent student loan servicing companies in CFPB investigations into debt collection practices.
  • Represented a large bank in a CFPB investigation concerning deposit and overdraft practices.
  • Represented a large national bank in CFPB, FDIC and OCC enforcement actions concerning deposit reconciliation practices. 
  • Represented several large banks and card issuers in CFPB enforcement actions relating to add-on products.
  • Represented a large bank in OCC and Federal Reserve enforcement actions relating to foreign exchange trading.
  • Represented a large bank in OCC and Federal Reserve enforcement actions relating to proprietary trading.
  • Represented an entity in connection with enforcement actions arising from the Madoff Ponzi scheme. 
  • Represented multiple large banks in enforcement actions relating to collections litigation and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
  • Represented multiple non-traditional lenders in CFPB investigations and enforcement actions.
  • Represented several national banks in  money-laundering enforcement actions. 
  • Represented a major card issuer in enforcement action relating to debt collection.
  • Represented a large national bank and mortgage servicer in negotiation of the National Mortgage Settlement with the United States and 49 state attorneys general, as well as in parallel enforcement actions taken by the OCC and the Federal Reserve. 

Regulatory Counseling

  • Represented the board of directors of a large non-bank mortgage servicer in an enterprise-wide review of compliance risk management systems. 
  • Represented a large bank in review of its flood insurance practices and revision of flood insurance policies and procedures.
  • Represented several financial services companies in CFPB exam readiness.
  • Represented a large bank in review of all regulatory and legal requirements applicable to the bank's control functions.
  • Represented several large banks and credit unions in ongoing regulatory counseling matters. 
  • Drafted comment letters on the OCC “heightened expectations” proposal, proposed capital requirements, proposed mortgage servicing rules and numerous other issues.
  • Served as regulatory due diligence counsel in several transactions involving emerging payments and lending companies.
  • Advised several large card issuers and auto finance companies on fair lending issues. 
  • Advised numerous clients on compliance with the UDAAP prohibitions passed as part of the Consumer Financial Protection Act.

New Product Development

  • Represented multiple large card issuers and large banks in the development of mobile prepaid-based products and other novel online-only products.  
  • Represented several large card issuers in development of new products, including analysis of UDAAP issues, required disclosures, and the Durbin Amendment interchange fee limits.  

Bank Secrecy Act/Anti–Money Laundering

  • Represented several large banks and retailers in the design and development of anti–money laundering compliance controls.
  • Represented a large bank with respect to currency transaction reporting issues.
  • Represented several large banks in regulatory investigations into money laundering issues.  

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized in the 2012-2017 editions of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business for her work in financial services regulation
  • Selected by her peers for inclusion in the 2012-2018 editions of the Best Lawyers in America for her work in banking and finance law
  • Recognized as a leading lawyer in the financial services regulatory practice area by IFLR1000: The Guide to the World's Leading Financial Law Firms in 2017
  • Recommended by The Legal 500 United States for financial services regulation in 2017
  • Featured in the 2016 edition of Who's Who Legal: Banking - Finance
  • Named one of the "Top Lawyers" in Washington DC by Washingtonian magazine in 2013
  • Selected by her peers as a leading attorney in the 2013-2017 editions of Washington DC Super Lawyers
  • Selected as a leading Rainmaker in the November/December 2009 issue of Diversity & the Bar magazine, a publication of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association

Publications & News


May 16, 2018

Banking Regulators' Examination Authority Does Not Override Attorney-Client Privilege

Notwithstanding the venerable status of the attorney-client privilege and the important purposes it serves, the federal banking regulators and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have taken the position that they have the legal authority to override the privilege and compel supervised institutions to produce information protected by the privilege.

May 3, 2018

WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices Recognized in 2018 Edition of Chambers USA

Chambers and Partners announced its rankings for the 2018 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, with WilmerHale listed among the nation's best in 50 practice area categories. Chambers also ranked 95 WilmerHale lawyers as leaders in their respective fields.

April 10, 2018

FinCEN Releases Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Customer Due Diligence and Beneficial Ownership Requirements

Last week the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued much-anticipated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that provide additional guidance to financial institutions relating to the implementation of the new Customer Due Diligence Rule (CDD Rule), set to go into effect on May 11, 2018. This client alert was also published by New York University School of Law's Compliance & Enforcement Blog.

December 19, 2017

FinCEN Launches New Information-Sharing Platform: The FinCEN Exchange

Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network recently announced the creation of the FinCEN Exchange, a new voluntary platform to facilitate information sharing between the government and industry on topics related to anti–money laundering and other financial crime issues.

November 16, 2017

CFPB Examinations and Investigations: Defense Strategies and Best Practices

An article by Franca Harris Gutierrez, Bradford Hardin, Jr. and Thomas Kost, published in Practical Law, examines the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's examination and investigation processes, including its scope of authority, enforcement methods and recent enforcement activity across different industries.

August 16, 2017

WilmerHale Lawyers Named Among the 2018 Best Lawyers in America®, Nine Recognized as Lawyers of the Year

Best Lawyers in America®—the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal industry—recognizes 107 WilmerHale lawyers and names nine partners as Lawyers of the Year in its 24th edition.

July 12, 2017

CFPB Releases Final Rule Banning Certain Pre-Dispute Arbitration Agreements

On July 10, the CFPB announced its long-anticipated final rule to prohibit the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements to block consumer class actions in contracts for consumer financial products and services.

June 21, 2017

Treasury Report Proposes Revamping Post-Crash Financial Regulation

On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department released a 150-page report that recommends revamping many of the rules for banks and other financial services firms put in place after the 2008 financial crisis through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

May 26, 2017

WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices Recognized in 2017 Edition of Chambers USA

Chambers and Partners announced its rankings for the 2017 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, with WilmerHale listed among the nation's best in 50 practice area categories. Chambers also ranked 86 WilmerHale lawyers as leaders in their respective fields.

April 27, 2017

AML and Sanctions: 2017 Trends and Developments

This report reviews recent trends and developments impacting financial institutions with respect to the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering and economic sanctions regulatory landscape.

Professional Activities

Ms. Gutierrez is a member of the American Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and is on the Executive Council of the Federal Bar Association's Banking Committee.


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JD, Columbia Law School, 1994

MBA, Columbia University, 1994

BA, Columbia University, 1990

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia

New York



Government Experience

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