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British multinational banking and financial services company Standard Chartered Bank is complex. It started as Chartered Bank of India, Australia, and China in 1853. Although now based in London, the organization doesn’t provide retail banking services in the United Kingdom. In fact, its profits come almost entirely from operations in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Standard Chartered has 776 branches worldwide and present in 59 markets, and its 85,000 employees generate about $14.7 billion in annual revenue.
Managing the varied and nuanced legal matters at Standard Chartered requires a seasoned leader who stays fully engaged and takes an inclusive approach. From 2013 to 2021, that responsibility fell to David Fein.
Fein studied at Dartmouth College and later graduated from New York University Law School. He served as a law clerk to Judge Frank Coffin in the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit before working as a litigation associate at Debevoise & Plimpton.
He then spent six years in the US Department of Justice as an assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York. In 1995, Fein left Manhattan for Washington, DC, to join the Clinton administration as associate counsel to the president. There, Fein and his colleagues were instrumental in crafting regulations to limit tobacco advertising and raise awareness regarding the harmful effects of smoking.
These moves helped Fein deepen his skills, talent, and leadership. He left the White House and made partner at Wiggin and Dana. There, he established and led the prominent firm’s white-collar practice. Before long, Fein had developed significant subject-matter expertise and found his services in high demand.
He spent a decade lecturing at Yale Law School, sharing his knowledge with students through his original class on federal prosecution and related criminal investigations. In 2010, Fein returned to the Department of Justice for a second stint in Connecticut. These combined experiences prepared him to lead Standard Chartered Bank’s high-performing legal team.
During his time in London, Fein collaborated with the bank’s CEO and other leaders to develop overall strategy. He also managed legal services, leading six hundred professionals. While the bank grew during Fein’s tenure, he was also tasked with helping the organization navigate considerable challenges and negotiate settlements related to money laundering charges.
While coordinating services and responding to various issues in numerous global jurisdictions, Fein surrounded himself with talented legal professionals whom he trusted to perform without the need to micromanage. He also maintained an open-door policy and was always careful to make himself and his colleagues in legal available to business partners for any questions or concerns.
Fein strongly advocates the need for mental health awareness in times of change and uncertainty. The unique challenges created by the pandemic meant Fein looked for external expertise and worked with London-based Cognacity, global experts in mental health and performance, who specialize in providing performance training and coaching within law firms both in Europe and the US.
The general counsel worked closely with Dr. Rob Archer, a performance psychologist on inclusive leadership and the importance of staying engaged, focused, and connected when implementing this type of leadership. Fein has had to maintain resilience to consistently prioritize inclusive leadership, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Archer supported Fein and his legal function at both team and individual level and comments. “It was a privilege to work alongside David Fein at Standard Chartered Bank and support him through difficult and challenging circumstances,” Archer says. “Working together, David and I were able to implement some exciting evidence-based strategies which included high performance routines and leadership behaviors that had a measurable impact on his team.”
Working at Standard Chartered gave Fein an opportunity to get involved with philanthropy. He spent six years as chair to Seeing is Believing, which addresses preventable blindness in Asia and Africa. Fein and Standard Chartered have raised funds and led key projects involving Peek, a smartphone app for portable eye exams. He is also a board member at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a nonprofit organization that provides guide dogs to people with vision loss free of charge.
In January 2022, Fein left Standard Chartered to serve as special counsel in the litigation department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, where he focuses on government and internal investigations, corporate governance, and regulatory matters. He will also manage issues related to cybersecurity, white collar, privacy, crisis management, and environmental, social, and governance.
“I am delighted to join Paul, Weiss, with its unparalleled commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, excellence in the practice of law, and service to the community,” Fein said about his move in a statement. “Having known and worked with many of the firm’s partners for years, I am excited to practice alongside them now.”
Although Fein stepped down from his role as general counsel at Standard Chartered, he will continue at the bank as a special advisor to the CEO and Board and spend more time on creating important public-private partnerships that address financial crime and international wildlife trafficking.