WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 11, 2005) – Venable LLP announced that two top lawyers from the National Association of Federal Credit Unions will join its Washington, DC office on November 1, 2005. William J. Donovan, Senior Vice President & General Counsel of NAFCU, is joining as a partner and will split his time between the firm’s banking/financial services and the legislative/government affairs practices. Gwendolyn L. Baker, NAFCU’s Director of Regulatory Affairs & Federal Regulatory Counsel, is joining as Of Counsel in the banking/financial services practice.
Together, Mr. Donovan and Ms. Baker bring to Venable nearly 40 years of experience representing credit unions and other financial institutions before all branches of government.
Mr. Donovan has been a leading proponent for the legislative interests of financial institutions and trade associations on Capitol Hill since 1978, when he began his career representing thrift institutions at the U.S. League of Savings Associations (now America’s Community Bankers). He has worked extensively with the Senate Banking Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, the House Financial Services Committee and its predecessor, the House Banking Committee, and the House Ways & Means Committee, as well as with individual members, to help guide the formulation of public policy impacting financial institutions. As NAFCU’s general counsel, Mr. Donovan also has been responsible for coordinating its activities before federal regulatory agencies and managing litigation involving the organization.
Ms. Baker’s principal area of proficiency is the implementation of enacted policies. In addition to developing NAFCU’s regulatory policies, she has been the organization’s key advocate and liaison with the broad range of federal agencies that regulate financial institutions, including the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the SEC, the SBA, the National Credit Union Administration and HUD. She is particularly knowledgeable in the credit and depository account regulatory arena, having extensive familiarity with the regulations under the Bank Secrecy Act; the Truth in Lending Act; the Truth in Savings Act; the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act; and The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.
“Bill and Gwen have stellar reputations with financial services companies and credit unions, and they bring the kind of financial industry experience you can never get enough of,” said Ronald R. Glancz, chair of Venable’s banking and financial services practice. “Bill, in particular, has tremendous relationships with important decision makers on Capitol Hill and has been battle-tested before key Congressional committees, including both the House and Senate Banking and Appropriations Committees. On top of that, both Bill and Gwen are truly substantive lawyers. Their decades of hands-on legal, legislative and regulatory experience will be of great benefit to Venable’s financial services and retail clients.”
Mr. Glancz added: “Their extensive familiarity with the federal statutes, regulations and case law regarding depository accounts, consumer credit, financial privacy, data security, and the payments system will strengthen the firm’s knowledge base in an area that has become increasingly important to our clients, and undoubtedly make them go-to people when questions arise about banking and credit regulations.”
While at NAFCU, both Mr. Donovan and Ms. Baker worked alongside a variety of financial institutions and trade associations towards passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. In 2000, Mr. Donovan worked with other financial services industry leaders on the Bush-Cheney Treasury Department transition advisory team to counsel the administration on financial policy issues.
“Credit unions frequently are an underappreciated type of financial institution, despite their creditworthiness and enormous asset base,” said Venable partner Bruce O. Jolly, Jr. “While Venable already has a strong practice representing credit unions, the relationships Bill and Gwen have and the experience they possess will certainly be invaluable to the firm’s ability to continue providing first-rate service to this important constituency, as well as to its other financial services clients.”
Both Mr. Donovan and Ms. Baker cite an eagerness to transfer their experience into private practice and Venable’s reputation as key reasons for the shift. “Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate to be intimately involved in the formulation of policy and regulations governing financial institutions,” explained Mr. Donovan. “After three decades of working inside the industry, I was interested in providing real world legal and regulatory counsel to a wide variety of financial industry participants. The opportunity at Venable was ideal.”
Ms. Baker added: “I look forward to developing a legal practice with a broad range of financial institutions. Joining Venable was an easy decision, given the long-standing relationships I’ve had with the firm. My firsthand experience with the effort it makes to provide a client with the best representation possible has always struck me as something that sets the firm apart.”
Ms. Baker’s prior experience includes a role as regulatory and compliance counsel at NAFCU and T. Rowe Price Group, Inc., a mutual fund, investment advisor and discount brokerage company. She earned her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law (1996) and her B.S. in Management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (1993).
Mr. Donovan, who obtained his J.D. from Catholic University of America (1978) and his B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross (1972), also has a Masters degree in Theology (1975, Catholic University) and an M.B.A. (1994, George Mason University).
Photographs available upon request.
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