John Valentine Bio

John started Valentine Law in 2009 to serve the needs of Institutional Investors dealing with Asset Servicing. He is uniquely qualified in this eclectic field of law—he has over 25 years of experience with custody banks, investment managers and plan sponsors dealing with the numerous, inter-twined areas of law, regulations and, importantly—industry practices which impact the purchase, holding, administration and sale of assets by ERISA plans, Mutual Funds, Endowments and Foundations. He is unique, in that he understands the investment and benefits businesses from every perspective: plan/fund sponsor, service provider, and fiduciary.

Before opening his private practice, John headed The Bank of New York Mellon’s Everett, Massachusetts office of the Legal Department of The Bank of New York Mellon. For over 11 years, he and his staff supported the bank’s institutional trust and custody services, including the bank’s global custody network, and the mutual fund back-office administration and services group. Before that, as Senior Counsel for Chase Manhattan Bank, starting in 1986, he helped shape and develop the bank’s emerging Global Custody business to serve ERISA and Mutual Funds clients. While with Chase, he advised the Trust and Custody business as well as its institutional investment arm, Chase Investors Management Company.

Because of his in-house experience, he has direct, first-hand knowledge of domestic and foreign back office operations in all areas, including: securities processing; depository and clearing operations; corporate actions; proxy voting; class action settlements; tax reclaims; handling of restricted securities; derivatives processing; ERISA prohibited transactions and fiduciary duties.

Before his bank and investment manager experience, he gained plan sponsor and employer perspectives as Labor Relations and Benefits Counsel for Lever Brothers Company, handling plan design, funding, fiduciary and administration issues—as well as labor negotiations, arbitrations, NLRB and human rights matters.

His legal career began with AT & T, as an Assistant Regional Counsel, handling general corporate matters, but specializing in human rights defense work, where he successfully defended close to 100 human rights and NLRB complaints.

He has always maintained a “hands-on” philosophy in understanding the businesses he has represented. At AT&T, he went down into manholes, underground switching centers and to the top of microwave towers. At Lever, he became familiar with the production floor and its commodity trading for the oils used in its products; and, he worked with treasury operations on plan funding issues. At Chase, he worked with operations officers in both domestic and global custody. He trained trust officers in ERISA fiduciary duties and prohibited transactions identification and avoidance. In order to better understand CIMC, along with several of its top traders, he took the licensing course required to become a Commodity Futures Trading Advisor.

John was one of the earliest members of the ERISA Attorney Group, an informal network of in-house bank ERISA counsel formed shortly after ERISA became law. The group identified common industry problems and has been instrumental in developing best practices in institutional trust and custody of ERISA assets. He actively participated in the group for over 20 years, and as a result, he developed and maintained close contacts in the industry.

In 1995-6, when the SEC began revising its rules for foreign custody of Mutual Fund assets, using contacts from the ERISA Attorney’s Group, he brought together in-house bank counsel from the 5 main US Global Custody banks and recommended that the coalition engage the Baker and McKenzie law firm to coordinate industry comments on proposed changes to Rule 17f-5. The result was the creation of the Association of Global Custodians. As a participant in The AGC, John actively represented Chase Manhattan Bank, Mellon Bank, and The Bank of New York Mellon.

He is the author of four articles written for the Practicing Law Institute:

  • “The Perfect Storm: The Meltdown of 2008-9; Learning Points and Issues for Plan Fiduciaries;”
  • “The Roles of Directed Trustees, Investment Managers and Plan Sponsors in Swaps, and Their Effect on Risk and Valuation;”
  • “Foreign Assets as Viewed by an ERISA Fiduciary” and
  • “Selected Basic Global Custody Issues.”

He has been featured as a speaker in PLI programs and at numerous industry conferences in the US and Canada. He is a graduate of Union College (B.A., cum laude in Economics ’71) and Syracuse University College of Law (J.D., cum laude ’74). He is admitted to the practice of law in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.