Paul L. Lee

Lecturer in Law

Office: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
919 Third Avenue
New York NY 10022
Tel: (212) 909-6955
Fax: (212) 521-7955
  • Georgetown University ,1969 , B.A.
  • University of Michigan Law School ,1972 , J.D.

Areas of Practice
  • Insurance & Financial Institutions
  • Banking
  • Corporate Governance

Paul Lee is Chair of Debevoise & Plimpton’s Banking Group and a member of their Financial Institutions Group. He has extensive experience in the banking industry as a corporate lawyer, both as a general counsel and in private practice, as well as experience in the public sector with leading bank supervisory agencies. Mr. Lee has been recognized by Chambers USA (2006) as a leader in the field of regulatory compliance in financial services, with clients applauding his “fantastic range of skills in the regulatory banking and insurance fields.”

Prior to joining Debevoise, Mr. Lee was Executive Senior Vice President and General Counsel of HSBC USA Inc., where he served as the senior legal officer in the United States advising senior management in the United States and London on legal, regulatory and compliance matters. He was a member of HSBC USA’s Senior Management Committee and Risk Management Committee.

Mr. Lee began his career as a corporate associate at Debevoise from 1974 to 1977, followed by two years at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and Special Assistant to the General Counsel of the Treasury. Mr. Lee served as Deputy Superintendent and Counsel of the New York State Banking Department from 1980 to 1981 when he joined a major, international law firm as a partner. During his 12 years at that firm, Mr. Lee concentrated on banking transactions and regulations, mergers and acquisitions, and acting as underwriters’ counsel on offerings by banks and other global financial institutions. In 1994, Mr. Lee joined a client, Republic New York Corporation, as General Counsel. (Republic New York was acquired by HSBC in 1999 and became HSBC USA Inc.)

Mr. Lee has been a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School since 2002 and was a Lecturer in Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1983 to 1986. He speaks frequently on the banking industry and has written extensively on issues relating to banking and international finance. His recent articles include “The USA PATRIOT Act Requirements for Foreign Banks,” 1 Regulation of Foreign Banks (4th ed., 2007), “The USA PATRIOT Act and Due Diligence Requirements for Foreign Correspondent and Private Banking Accounts" Part I, 2 Journal of Payment Systems Law 87 and Part II, 2 Journal of Payment Systems Law 187 (2006); “The USA PATRIOT ACT and Anti-Money Laundering Program Requirements for the Insurance Industry,” 1 Journal of Payment Systems Law 763 (2006).

Mr. Lee received his B.A. summa cum laude from Georgetown University in 1969. He received his J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 1972, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Law Review. He served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Walter R. Mansfield, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, from 1973 to 1974.

Mr. Lee's recent representations include:
  • The Supervisory Board of ABN Amro in its €72 billion combination with a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland (the largest ever financial institution takeover), and the $21 billion sale of its LaSalle Bank subsidiary to Bank of America.
  • American Express Bank International in the negotiation of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and enforcement orders with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
  • UFJ Holdings in its $41 billion combination with Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group, creating the world's then largest bank.
  • The Bank of New York in the negotiation of a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District and Eastern District of New York and a regulatory agreement with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.