Richard Walker. (Courtesy photo)
King & Spalding has added former longtime Deutsche Bank AG general counsel and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement chief Richard Walker as a New York-based partner in the firm’s special matters and government investigations group, the firm said Tuesday.
Walker comes to King & Spalding after retiring in 2015 from Deutsche Bank, where he served as global GC during a 14-year stretch that included the global financial crisis and, in its wake, a series of regulatory crackdowns and fines on many of the world’s largest financial institutions. Although Walker had already left Deutsche Bank by this point, the company agreed in January to pay $7.2 billion to resolve the U.S. Justice Department’s claims that the company misled investors regarding its dealings in residential mortgage backed securities in 2006 and 2007.
Before going in-house at Deutsche Bank, Walker spent about a decade at the SEC, where he held several high-ranking roles, including general counsel, northeast regional director and chief of the agency’s enforcement division. Earlier in his career, he also served as a litigation partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.
Welcoming Walker to King & Spalding, firm chairman Robert Hays Jr. said in a statement that the former Deutsche Bank GC and SEC official would bring expertise that aligns “perfectly” with the firm’s focuses on global disputes, financial institutions and government investigations. Carmen Lawrence, co-head of the firm’s securities enforcement and regulation practice, and a former SEC colleague of Walker’s, also touted her new law partner’s wide-ranging experience as a boon for King & Spalding.
“As the only person to have served the SEC as both enforcement director and general counsel, Dick has vast and invaluable experience in securities regulation and compliance,” Lawrence said in a statement Tuesday.
Walker said in an interview that the in-house role at Deutsche Bank was a great experience, but also a grueling stretch of more than a decade with frequent international travel. He was drawn to King & Spalding in part because he knew the firm’s reputation from its past work for Deutsche Bank, and because he had a close professional relationship and friendship with Lawrence that stemmed back to the time they worked together at the SEC.
“King and Spalding was a terrifically exciting opportunity,” he said.
Walker added that he hopes the new role at King & Spalding will allow him to bring together his experiences as an in-house lawyer, regulatory official and his past as a private practice lawyer.
“I’ve seen the world through a lot of different points of view and experience,” he said. “Each of my experiences has helped broaden my perspective and understanding of the people who sit on the other side of the table from you.”
For King & Spalding, bringing Walker on board comes after a spate of recent hires. Since July, the firm has added Zachary Fardon, the former top federal prosecutor in Chicago, Brian Michael, another former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, who joined after several years as an in-house counsel at 21st Century Fox Inc., and a four-lawyer products liability group from Reed Smith in New York.
Earlier in the year, King & Spalding also added a new global head of its mergers and acquisitions group in James Woolery, a former Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Cadwalader lawyer who’s also had recent stints with a hedge fund and investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co.
But King & Spalding has also seen some departures this year, as a number of its lawyers, including Christopher Wray and international trade partner Gil Kaplan, have been drawn into the government for posts in the Trump administration.
Prior to his departure to become head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Wray led the special matters and government investigations group that Walker has now joined at King & Spalding. Kaplan underwent a Senate confirmation hearing in August after being nominated for a role as undersecretary for international trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce.