X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Name and title: Sheila Davidson, executive vice president, chief legal officer and general counsel Age: 45 Company profile: The New York Life Insurance Co. has sold life insurance policies since 1845. It lists $240 billion in assets and a Triple A rating, and in fiscal 2006 reported $21 billion in sales and $2.3 billion net income. “The principal business of the company, and what everybody who works here takes very seriously, is making promises to families,” Davidson said. “Our reputation and financial strength are our stock in trade. We are selling a promise that we will pay your children or grandchildren a sum of money 30, 40, 50 years from now. It makes you feel good about what you do.” New York Life’s product line has expanded to include mutual funds for individuals, investment management services for institutional investors and long-term care insurance and special group policies sold through AARP and other affinity groups or professional associations. Globalization is creating new opportunities for once-staid New York Life, which is seeking growth opportunities wherever people are becoming prosperous enough to think about buying life insurance. “We look for emerging-market countries that are ripe for life insurance � countries that have a growing middle class, a savings culture, a relatively stable political environment,” Davidson said. “Our goal is to export our core competence, which is sales of life insurance through an agent sales force.” Route to present position: While attending George Washington University Law School, Davidson served an internship in the trial unit of the enforcement division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The experience gave her insights to the regulator’s mindset that would prove useful later. Upon graduation from law school in 1986, Davidson went to work at Shearson Lehman/American Express, but soon moved on to the National Association of Securities Dealers, where she investigated complaints against dealers. She served as prosecutor before a panel of “business peers” charged with enforcing the organization’s code of conduct. “If I had a municipal bond-trading case, it might be brought before the head of municipal bond-trading at Prudential Bache and the general counsel at Merrill Lynch and the head of compliance at Smith Barney,” she said. “I was in my 20s, litigating against partners at big law firms in front of these top executives. That was a terrific job,” Davidson said. “I learned lots and lots � including that I couldn’t support myself and pay off my student loans. I didn’t want to work at a law firm, I wanted to work in-house but wear a white hat. I wanted to work for a company committed to compliance and doing things the right way, so I answered an ad in the New York Times for New York Life looking for a broker-dealer lawyer.” Davidson took the job at New York Life in 1991. Part of the attraction for her was that the general counsel was a woman. “I thought that indicated a place where there would be lots of opportunities for me,” she said. “Shortly after I got here, I took responsibility for the mutual fund lawyers, then for ERISA [Employee Retirement Income Security Act], and then became head of the asset management group. I was here a few years when the then-general counsel wanted me to run the insurance law group. About a year later, the chairman of the company asked me to run the compliance department.” Davidson was named general counsel in 2000. In 2005, she was given responsibilities in corporate administration that included human resources, corporate communications and corporate services, in addition to her existing duties as corporate secretary and head of governmental affairs and the diversity office. Legal team: Davidson manages an in-house legal staff of 84. She counts roughly 150 additional support staff working in compliance, government relations, legal and corporate governance. “We have a very seasoned group of lawyers in-house,” Davidson said. “I am probably on the lighter side in terms of years of experience.” In-house expertise includes ERISA, employment, contracts and intellectual property. “About a third of the attorneys are focused on litigation, corporate transactions and overseeing our investment portfolio,” Davidson said. “Insurance regulation is a very technical expertise that you find in just a few firms and in-house at insurance companies. These are the finest insurance lawyers in the country.” Outside counsel: The list of outside firms working for New York Life is long, but near the top are a raft of New York firms: Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson for regulatory and general corporate matters; Dewey & LeBoeuf for insurance regulatory matters and corporate transactions; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for large transactions. Additionally, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius helps with employment and ERISA matters. “We use all those firms and many more throughout the country for litigation. We have local firms in all 50 states,” Davidson said. Daily duties: In addition to her job as New York Life’s top attorney, Davidson holds a seat on the executive management committee, the policymaking group responsible for budgeting and the strategic plan for the year. New York Life’s push into emerging overseas markets has taken it into Mexico, Argentina, China, India, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea. “In many of these countries, we have established joint ventures and we partner with a local company that may or may not be in the insurance or finance business,” Davidson said. “We lend the company our expertise in life insurance, and that includes sales, the mortality analysis and the investment professionals who match the liabilities to long-term investments, analysis of the regulatory environment, technology. There is a lot of legal work that goes along with all of that.” Her governmental affairs role “involves a lot of flag planting, hand-shaking and relationship-building with the regulators and government officials.” Personal: Davidson and her husband, Anthony Davidson, an attorney-turned-author, live in New York City’s Greenwich Village with their two sons, Andrew, 9, and Patrick, 6. Last book and movie: The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, and Bee Movie. “It was very funny,” she said.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.