Patton Boggs has added the former vice chairman of Lehman Brothers Inc. and the chief legal officer of Lehman Brothers Holdings to its New York office, the firm announced today.
Thomas Russo, who spent 15 years at Lehman before the financial services giant filed for bankruptcy last year, started work at the firm Monday as a senior counsel. Russo says after he finishes getting set up at the firm, he plans to advise clients on securities, commodities law, and other financial services issues.
Russo he opted to join Patton Boggs, he says, because of his 30-year relationship with Thomas Boggs Jr., the firm’s chairman, and because of the firm’s strong presence in both New York and Washington.
“The day-to-day work in the financial services industry that was fundamentally in New York now has a stronger than ever nexus to Washington,” Russo tells The BLT. “Because of that nexus’ proximity to Washington, the regulatory structure is going to change dramatically. I wanted to be at a firm with a strong presence in both Washington and New York because that’s where the action is.”
As for his previous post at Lehman, Russo says he regrets that the firm did not receive a government bailout.
“It’s almost common knowledge that that was a terrible failure on the government’s part. But in saying that, one must move on, and there isn’t much one can do about it now” Russo says, “There were lots of other firms that were similarly situated and did not have that happen to them, and I am happy for them.”
Russo says that being on the front lines of the financial crisis will prove a valuable asset to clients looking for advice.
“The way I see the financial services industry evolving today is in a little bit the same way that I saw the commodities market evolving in the 1970s,” he says. “I feel it’s important that I be involved in that evolution in some way.”
Before joining Lehman Brothers in 1993, Russo was a partner and member of the management committee at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft where he specialized in securities and commodities enforcement as well as regulatory advice covering the areas of broker-dealer transactions, hedge funds, and derivatives trading.
In addition to his work at Patton Boggs, Russo says he plans to continue teaching as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. Russo says his teaching will also prove beneficial to clients.
“Teaching about the credit crisis has given me the opportunity to think through some of the issues in a more objective and academic way,” he says. “Those experiences may prove to be able to translate into practical advice for my clients. The great thing about thinking about the past is that you can learn so much from it.”