FacultyFaculty/Author Profile
Frances E. Bivens

Frances E. Bivens

Davis Polk & Wardwell

New York, NY, USA

Ms. Bivens is a partner in Davis Polk’s Litigation Department and has experience in a broad range of high profile commercial litigation matters in federal and state courts and arbitrations around the country. She also regularly handles both state and federal regulatory matters for clients in a variety of industries.

Work Highlights

Commercial Litigation

Ms. Bivens regularly acts as lead counsel in commercial litigation matters. Some of her representations include:

  • Con Edison in government investigations and civil litigation arising out of Hurricane Sandy, and the East Harlem and East Village gas explosions
  • First Wind in civil litigation and arbitration proceedings related to a dispute with Clipper Windpower
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Inc. (the manufacturer of the Deepwater Horizon) in MDL class action litigation related to the Gulf Oil Spill in the Eastern District of Louisiana
  • A private equity firm in an international arbitration in the ICDR against a former business partner arising out of a complex Indian banking transaction
  • The U.S. Department of the Treasury in litigation brought by Starr International challenging the government rescue of AIG. Ms. Bivens was lead counsel for Treasury in the derivative demand process before the AIG board of directors.
  • Con Edison in a mass action pending in New York Supreme Court related to a steam rupture in midtown Manhattan in the summer of 2007
  • Baidu, Inc. in a copyright infringement action related to MP3 downloading
  • Ernst & Young in a trial in Boston federal court arising out of the failure of the Bank of New England


Ms. Bivens also handles internal investigations as well as regulatory investigations for a number of major clients. Some examples include:

  • Successfully representing Morgan Stanley in connection with investigations by DOJ and SEC into FCPA violations relating to Morgan Stanley's real estate investing operations in mainland China, resulting in FCPA charges against a former Morgan Stanley employee for intentionally circumventing Morgan Stanley's anti-corruption controls; the decision not to charge Morgan Stanley was the first-ever publicly announced decision not to prosecute a company in an FCPA case based on the quality of its anti-corruption program and its cooperation in the investigation
  • The audit committee of a large company in a SOX whistleblower investigation
  • A major financial institution in a FINRA investigation related to an institutional stock buy-back program, which resulted in no charges against the company


Ms. Bivens is consistently recognized for her work in the legal industry:

  • Chambers USA – General Commercial Litigation 
  • “Excellent litigator and strategist”
  • “She's really excellent at representing our interests, and considering things from a litigation perspective and also from our standpoint.” 
  • Benchmark Litigation – “Star”: National and New York; “Top 250 Women in Litigation”
  • The American Lawyer – “45 Under 45” List of Top Women Lawyers, 2011
  • Best Lawyers in America – Product Liability Litigation

Of Note


  • Trustee, Federal Bar Council
  • Board of Directors, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights
  • Board Member, New York International Arbitration Center

Past Memberships

  • Sub-Committee Chair, Professional Liability Committee of the ABA
  • Board of Visitors, Columbia Law School
  • President, Columbia Law School Alumni Association
  • Board of Directors and Fund Raising Chair, Advocates for Children


  • Partner, 2001-present
  • Associate, Davis Polk, 1995-2001
  • Associate, Morrison & Foerster (New York), 1992-1993
  • Law Clerk, Hon. James L. Oakes, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 1994-1995
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Jack B. Weinstein, U.S. District Court, E.D. New York, 1993-1994

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