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Heather Russell brings more than 20 years of global financial services experience across the sector with a proven track record of guiding finance-related institutions through complex regulatory and supervisory issues, enabling strategic business growth for banks amidst regulatory challenges, and incorporating novel technology solutions with more traditional financial services in ways that customers, regulators, and shareholders value.

Ms. Russell spearheads the firm’s Financial Institutions Regulation, Supervision & Technology (FIRST) practice, which combines institutional bank regulatory capabilities with the firm’s broader regulatory compliance, enforcement, transactional, and fintech practices to provide an integrated and comprehensive approach for financial institutions, as well as new entrants in the financial services marketplace to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving regulatory and business environment.

Eight years post-financial crisis, many banks, financial services institutions, and fintech companies are still saddled with onerous limits on their ability to operate at their full potential and deliver maximum results to their shareholders. Ms. Russell and the FIRST team help banks, financial services institutions, and fintech companies deliver an enterprise-level “whole institution” perspective to their regulators – from risk and data management to capital planning, governance, and other prudential issues – which can significantly expedite the lifting of limitations and empower firms to execute on their long-awaited growth strategies.

Specifically, Ms. Russell and the FIRST team provide clients with cost-effective solutions to enterprise-level strategic challenges, including:

  • Bank mergers and acquisitions
  • Remediating and responding to regulatory matters requiring attention across various disciplines — from capital and prudential concerns to consumer financial services
  • Analyzing regulator concerns regarding risk, regulatory, compliance, securities, capital planning and management, and establishing enterprise-wide positions for favorable review by supervisors
  • Chartering foreign banks and finance-related companies in the United States
  • Structuring investments, mergers, acquisitions, and new activities for financial holding companies operating under 4(m) agreements and other regulatory limitations
  • Constructing regulatory-compliant structures for novel technology advances
  • Shepherding new service delivery channels and fintech companies through the complicated regulatory approval process
  • Implementing required regulatory changes
  • Developing cross-border regulatory positions to facilitate review by global Senior Supervisory Colleges

Prior to joining Buckley Sandler in 2016, Ms. Russell was Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer & Corporate Secretary for Fifth Third Bancorp, the 12th largest U.S. bank. Before that, she was Global Chief Regulatory Counsel at BNY Mellon, where she created and led the company’s global Office of Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs, managing the bank’s relationships with its regulators in 100 countries. Ms. Russell also spent five years with Bank of America, where she served as lead counsel for a number of the bank’s divisions, including Global Risk, Supervisory and Regulatory Relations, Deposit and Debit Products, Marketing, Privacy, Online and Mobile Banking, and Sales Practices. She was also instrumental in Bank of America's acquisitions of Merrill Lynch, LaSalle Bank, Countrywide and US Trust. She previously practiced law for eight years at Skadden in its Washington and London offices, focusing on bank regulatory, consumer financial services, international corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions.

Ms. Russell is an adjunct professor at Boston University School of Law where she teaches courses on fintech and the Future of Banking. She is also a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar Forum on Finance in a Changing World, and is a frequent speaker on bank regulatory issues and the intersection of technology and banking. She was recognized this year by Legal 500 for her work in Financial Services Regulation.

Ms. Russell received her B.A. from the College of William & Mary and graduated cum laude from American University Washington College of Law, where she served as Senior Articles Editor of the Law Review and was recognized as the law school’s "Most Outstanding Graduate." After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Claude M. Hilton, then-Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Ms. Russell is active in numerous industry associations, including the National Women’s Law Center and the ABA Banking Law Committee, for which she Vice-Chairs. She is a member of the New York and Washington DC bars and is co-located in the firm's New York and Washington DC offices.

In The News

Articles & Special Alerts

Awards and Recognitions

Awards & Recognitions

  • Legal 500 2017: Recognized in the Financial Services: Regulatory practice area


  • J.D., American University (cum laude)
  • B.A., College of William & Mary


  • District of Columbia
  • New York

Government Service

    • Summer Associate, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
    • Honors Law Clerk, United States Treasury Department
    • Law Clerk, Hon. Claude M. Hilton, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

Memberships & Involvements

  • Boston University School of Law, Adjunct Professor  

    Salzburg Global Seminar Forum on Finance in a Changing World, Fellow  

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