Paul Lee is of counsel to the firm and former Chair of the firm’s Banking 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 is ranked by Chambers Global (2017) and Chambers USA (2017) as a Senior Statesman in Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Compliance). Mr. Lee is also recognized by The Legal 500 USA (2017) as a leading lawyer in Financial Services: Regulatory and as a member of The Legal 500 Hall of Fame. Mr. Lee has also been recognized as Lawyer of the Year in Financial Services Regulation Law by Best Lawyers New York City (2017) and as a Thought Leader for Banking by Who’s Who Legal 2017.

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.

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. 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 member of the adjunct faculty of 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 publications include, “The CHOICE Act Is a Bad Choice for Financial Reform,” The CLS Blue Sky Blog: Columbia Law School’s Blog On Corporations And The Capital Markets (April, 2017); “A Paradigm’s Progress: The Single Point Of Entry In Bank Resolution Planning,” The CLS Blue Sky Blog: Columbia Law School’s Blog On Corporations And The Capital Markets (January, 2017); “The Case Against Repealing Title II Of The Dodd-Frank Act,” The CLS Blue Sky Blog: Columbia Law School’s Blog On Corporations And The Capital Markets (December, 2016); “Corporate Governance For Banking Institutions Is Different,” New York University School Of Law’s Compliance & Enforcement Blog (October, 2016); “Directors’ Duty to Monitor: Experience in the Banking Sector,” Part I, 133 Banking Law Journal 405 (2016) and Part II, 133 Banking Law Journal 483 (2016); “Bankruptcy Alternatives to Title II of the Dodd-Frank Act,” Part I, 132 Banking Law Journal 437 (2015) and Part II, 132 Banking Law Journal 503 (2015); “Cross-Border Resolution of Banking Groups: International Initiatives and U.S. Perspectives,” Part I, Pratt's Journal of Bankruptcy Law 391 (2013), Part II, 9 Pratt's Journal of Bankruptcy Law 583 (2013), Part III, 10 Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law 291 (2014) and Part IV, 11 Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law 59 (2015); “Compliance Lessons from OFAC Case Studies,” Part I, 131 Banking Law Journal 657 (2014) and Part II, 131 Banking Law Journal 717 (2014); “The Source-of-Strength Doctrine: Revered and Revisited,” Part I, 129 Banking Law Journal 771 (2012) and Part II, 129 Banking Law Journal 867 (2012); “Savings and Loan Holding Companies After the Dodd-Frank Act: An Endangered Species?” Part I, 129 Banking Law Journal 147 (2012) and Part II, 129 Banking Law Journal 195 (2012); “The Dodd-Frank Act Orderly Liquidation Authority: A Preliminary Analysis And Critique,” Part I, 128 Banking Law Journal 771 and Part II, 128 Banking Law Journal 867 (2011); “A Renewed Focus on Foreign Corruption and Politically Exposed Persons,” 127 Banking Law Journal 813 (2010); “Risk Management and the Role of the Board of Directors: Regulatory Expectations and Shareholder Actions,” 125 Banking Law Journal 679 (2008); and “Anti-Money Laundering and Economic Sanctions Laws,” Regulation of Foreign Banks & Affiliates in the United States (9th ed., 2016).

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 Hon. Walter R. Mansfield, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, from 1973 to 1974.


  • University of Michigan Law School, 1972, J.D.
  • Georgetown University, 1969, B.A.

Bar Admissions

  • New York