Legal Business

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

  • Global general counsel: Gary Lynch.
  • Team headcount: 120 lawyers in EMEA.

Supporting Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML)’s entry into the GC Power List 2015, Aviva’s group GC Kirsty Cooper observes: ‘Financial services breed strong teams because of the volatile nature of that industry over the last few years. People have to be innovative, resilient and stand up and be counted. It’s not been the easiest industry to work in but it has brought out the best people working there.’

This is certainly true for the in-house legal team at BAML, particularly since Bank of America (BoA)’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial crisis in a $50bn deal in 2008. Major matters for the legal department in 2014 include a $16.6bn settlement with the US Department of Justice, federal agencies and six US states – the largest civil settlement with a single entity in American history. The bank agreed to pay the sum after longstanding federal and state allegations that BoA and its former and current subsidiaries, including Countrywide Financial Corporation and Merrill Lynch, sold mortgage-backed securities to investors that contributed to the real estate market collapse amid the 2008 economic downturn.

The team instructs international law firms, including Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Shearman & Sterling and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and key lawyers in the EMEA region include Sajid Hussein, EMEA GC, and Andrew Bird, head of EMEA corporate and investment banking legal.

One partner at a New York-headquartered law firm praised BAML’s London loans team in particular for its talent and dedication. ‘BAML has reorganised its legal function to give the team more responsibility so that they deal with all loan products worldwide for the whole of BAML, save in the Americas, which has a very large territorial reach and combination of time zones. The team runs very efficiently and we find them excellent to deal with. The individuals are real team players. They also participate in various pro bono activities and diversity matters, and many of the team are working mothers.’