Saturday, January 7, 2012

Elk Cliff Bank

Some of you know I played law professor this Fall, teaching a "practicum" course at Washington & Lee University School of Law. Under a new program, students in their final year at this school take only clinical and practicum courses intended to acclimate them to next year's "real life." (Occasionally a student might take a "doctrinal" course if he or she has a prospective employer who requires a particular course not yet taken.)

Actually I didn't play law professor; I stepped back in time and re-played "General Counsel." I was the boss of the Office of General Counsel, Elk Cliff Bank. The students were attorneys in the Office of General Counsel and employees of the bank.

"What's Elk Cliff Bank?" asks Virginia.

Colonel Francis Anderson founded Elk Cliff Bank in 1832. The bank was a state-chartered “wildcat” bank. A wildcat bank issued its own money. That money was only recognized and honored by Elk Cliff Bank, so you might imagine how much or little comfort the bank's customers felt back then.

The bank was headquartered in the plantation house of Elk Cliff Farm, which had a safe room in its basement. Folks would stop by to make appointments, then return to meet with the Colonel. So the bank has a long history of personalized service.

Beginning in 1863 and 1864, when the National Bank Acts were enacted and national currency arrived, the bank made a point of looking forward. Unlike many family banks, Elk Cliff was not afraid to hire qualified, experienced “outsiders” who favored innovation. That tradition continues today.

Our big job was to implement the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Our second class began in the Fall of 2008, then we gradually stepped into 2011.