WASHINGTON Sheila Bair, a former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., has agreed to serve as a senior adviser to the law firm DLA Piper, focusing on its international practice, according to a memo obtained by American Banker.
Bair will largely concentrate on global public sector clients, but she also expects to do compliance monitoring work at the firm. DLA Piper has also agreed to help Bair organize a nonprofit to raise money to build playgrounds in orphanages in China and other developing countries.
Bair revealed her new position in a memo to members of the Systemic Risk Council, a nonpartisan reform group made up of former regulators that she chairs. Bair is also a fellow at the Pew Charitable Trusts, which helped organize the risk council, and an independent board member for Spain's Banco Santander. She will continue to serve in all three roles.
Bair has long warned about the dangers of the revolving door between regulators and the institutions they regulate. As a result, she does not represent Santander before U.S. regulators. In her new role at DLA Piper, Bair's memo said that "consistent with her policy," she will not "be advising or otherwise interacting with the firm's U.S. banking clients, nor will I be lobbying for the firm."
She did raise a potential conflict, however, noting that she asked the law firm whether the positions the risk council takes, "which are often counter to positions taken by various industry groups," would create a problem because DLA Piper has financial institution clients.
"I have been advised that so long as we do not take positions specific to individual institutions, there will be no conflict," Bair wrote.
Bair said that the Systemic Risk Council generally makes broad recommendations on policy, not about individual institutions, but if an issue with a specific bank arose, she would recuse herself.
Bair added that she was looking forward to working to develop a charity.
"As some of you know, over the past few years, I have been raising funds through my speaking fees to build two playgrounds at an orphanage in Hengyang, Hunan China, where our daughter lived before we adopted her," Bair wrote in the memo. "I have found this to be one of the most rewarding things I have done since leaving public office, and would like to leverage the experience and knowledge I have acquired through the Hengyang projects to launch a broader effort, focusing on orphanages in China, as well as others in developing countries."