There's little question John D. Hawke Jr. is qualified to be the 28th comptroller of the currency.

Mr. Hawke, known informally as Jerry, steps into the job at age 65 with decades of experience both in government and at one of the nation's premier law firms.

A 1954 graduate of Yale University, Mr. Hawke got his law degree from Columbia University in 1960. After working briefly on Capitol Hill, Mr. Hawke joined Arnold & Porter in 1962 and became a partner in five years. He was chairman of the firm from 1987 to 1995.

He took a leave from Arnold & Porter in 1975 for a three-year stint as Federal Reserve Board general counsel. In 1986, Mr. Hawke took on the Fed to win a landmark Supreme Court victory that created the so-called nonbank bank, which was allowed to either make loans or take deposits, but not both. Congress closed the loophole the next year.

In April 1995-after contemplating retirement-Mr. Hawke joined the Treasury Department as under secretary of domestic finance. President Clinton nominated him to be comptroller on July 11.

A widower with four grown children, Mr. Hawke is considered an independent-minded nice guy who enjoys opera, traveling, and cooking Italian food. But his casual demeanor hides aggressive work habits.

"He's an interesting combination of exceedingly driven yet extremely generous to his colleagues," said Victoria P. Rostow, a lawyer with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who worked for Mr. Hawke at the Treasury.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.