It’s a Wall Street club that’s virtually unknown on Wall Street. It has no name or official membership list, and it meets only once a year, in locations such as Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne, Connecticut’s Litchfield County, and, this year, Versailles.
The attendees are top in-house lawyers for some of the world’s most powerful banks — people who sit at the table for decisions that can shape multibillion-dollar litigation tabs for the likes of Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
For this year’s meeting, in late May, the lawyers descended on Trianon Palace Versailles, a luxury hotel less than two kilometers from the palace of Louis XIV and adjacent to the royal park.
The gatherings, which were described by several people familiar with them who asked not to be identified, tend to feature discussions of nuts-and-bolts issues such as managing relationships with the board and whether compliance personnel should receive stock incentives.
This year, according to two of the people, some attendees arrived at the marble and gilded hotel primed to focus on a common scourge: class-action lawyers who seek billions of dollars from top banks for alleged market manipulations and related bad behavior. Eric Grossman, chief legal officer at Morgan Stanley, implored his confederates to hang together and resist the temptation to settle quickly.