BofA Names Outgoing Ford General Counsel Leitch Top Lawyer

  • Leitch had spent more than a decade at the Detroit automaker
  • Gary Lynch remains as vice chairman and adviser to board

Bank of America Corp., the lender with the highest legal bills after the financial crisis, named Ford Motor Co.’s David Leitch as its next general counsel to replace Gary Lynch, who became vice chairman earlier this year.

Leitch, 54, will be a member of the bank’s management team reporting to Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan starting Jan. 1, the firm said in a statement Thursday. The lawyer will be based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the company has its headquarters. Ford announced last month that Leitch planned to leave after a decade at the automaker.

“David is a proven executive and leader who will add impressive legal acumen and experience to our team,” Moynihan, 56, said in the statement.

Bank of America spent more than $70 billion to resolve legal and regulatory disputes tied to the crisis-era acquisitions of Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. Moynihan, who took over in 2010, has said that most of the firm’s legal woes are now behind it. The firm had litigation expenses of $231 million in the third quarter, compared with $6 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Before joining Ford in 2005, Leitch served as deputy White House counsel to President George W. Bush; chief counsel of the Federal Aviation Administration; a deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department; and law clerk to late Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

Lynch, 65, is a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement chief who joined Bank of America four years ago to handle legal claims linked to the lender’s 2008 acquisition of Countrywide. His move to vice chairman, announced in July as part of a management overhaul, means he will continue to advise the bank’s executives and board on regulations and corporate governance, according to the statement.

“Gary led our team in resolving the most complex and pressing legal issues our company has faced,” Moynihan said. “We will continue to benefit from his seasoned judgment and sound guidance.”

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