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Xavier Magazine | February 22, 2018

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Profile: Denis M. Forster

Greg Schaber

Denis M. Forster
Bachelor of Science in Political Science, 1960 | Principal, the Law Offices of Denis M. Forster, New York

Firm Focus | Forster is one of the nation’s leading experts on the legal aspects of derivatives—financial securities that derive their value from an underlying financial source, such as shares in a company or stocks, and are used as a hedge against financial risk. He has represented a number of high-profile clients, including Microsoft, the Kingdom of Belgium’s ministry of finance, Bill Gates Investments, Procter & Gamble, MSNBC and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Golden Gates | Forster also represents the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest charitable foundation with assets of about $30 billion. “A primary focus of the foundation is to use technology, science and good business practices to transform the health of often neglected people in developing countries. My job is to help those who manage these funds protect the foundation’s assets through legally enforceable derivative contracts.”

Family Tradition | Forster was raised in Washington, D.C., and “guided” to the University by his father, Francis Forster, M.D., a 1934 Xavier graduate who was then dean of the medical school at Georgetown University.

Legal Learning | After graduation, Forster moved on to the University of Wisconsin Law School. In the summer of 1961, he hitchhiked through Mexico and Central America to Panama, in the process launching a lifelong interest in Latin America. Forster served as a J.A.G. officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1964-1968, and then worked as a litigator with a major law firm in San Francisco from 1969-1974.

Southern Success | In 1974 Forster returned to Latin America, teaching at the law school of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. By the late 1970s, he was in Venezuela, heading the Bank of America’s legal offices in Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Derivative Experience | Forster moved to England in 1979 and began practicing law in London. There, he became involved with currency exchange agreements that evolved into derivatives. It has remained his area of expertise—he is a lecturer, expert witness and author on derivative legal issues.

Setting Up Shop | In 1994, Forster formed his own firm in New York City. One of his first cases was to assist Proctor & Gamble and its Cincinnati counsel in a successful, highly publicized suit against Bankers Trust regarding more than $150 million in derivative losses.

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