James H.R. Windels
  1. Counsel

Mr. Windels is counsel in Davis Polk’s Litigation Department. He has experience in a wide variety of federal and state court commercial litigation matters and arbitrations, regulatory enforcement proceedings and internal investigations.

He represents public and privately held corporations, financial institutions, hedge funds, accounting firms, and corporate directors and officers.

Work Highlights

  • Represented a leading investment bank in an action brought by the State of West Virginia relating to trading in U.S. government securities, culminating in a two-month jury trial in West Virginia state court and a judgment for our client on appeal; see 459 S.E.2d 906 (1995)
  • Represented a major airline in an action for breach of contract brought by the bankruptcy estate and creditors committee of Pan American World Airways, culminating in a two-month trial in federal court in New York and judgment for our client; see 175 Bankr. 438 (1994); 155 Bankr. 327 (1993) 
  • Co-lead trial counsel for a healthcare and assisted living company in an action against a takeover target in California state court, culminating in a trial and judgment for our client (1999)
  • Represented the Board of Directors of a bankrupt alternative energy company in connection with its reorganization and defense of numerous securities litigation, federal whistleblower and creditor claims (2016-present)
  • Represented a major overseas creditor of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in U.S. bankruptcy proceedings (2010-2011) and related litigation concerning the termination and valuation of credit derivative transactions (2011-present)
  • Lead trial counsel for a global telecommunications company in an international arbitration regarding ownership of a cellular telephone company in Panama (2013-2016)
  • Lead counsel for a Brazilian energy company in federal securities litigation based on allegations of bribery and public corruption (2015-present)
  • Lead trial counsel for an investment adviser as claimant in a six-party NYSE arbitration arising from stock lending transactions, culminating in a final hearing and an award for our client (2004)
  • Represented a commercial bank in connection with antitrust and RICO lawsuits arising from commodities transactions with a Japanese trading company, winning dismissal and defeating class certification on a number of claims; see 306 F.3d 469 (2002); 113 Cal. App. 4th 195 (2003) 
  • Won dismissal of several class action and shareholder derivative lawsuits against a major U.S. mutual fund adviser at the district court level and on appeal; see 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 20213; 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19964
  • Won dismissal of a securities class action alleging misrepresentations in connection with a complex, volatility-linked structured product; see 2014 U.S. Dist. Lexis 78298, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 24024
  • Won permanent injunctions in Texas and California federal courts against FINRA arbitrations brought against an investment bank; see 2013 WL 5530827
  • Represented a U.S. investment bank in connection with fraud claims brought by a government-sponsored Middle Eastern bank relating to management of a bond portfolio; see 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15921
  • Won dismissal on behalf of underwriters in a securities fraud action arising from a public offering of shares by a vitamin company; see 186 F.3d 338 (1999) 
  • Defeated class certification on behalf of a large European bank in a securities class action arising from stock lending transactions and one of the largest-ever SIPC liquidations; see 2009 WL 2245223 
  • Won dismissals on behalf of a Big Four accounting firm of stock options backdating litigations; see 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88045; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100319; 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 12312 
  • Represented investment banks, investment advisers, hedge funds, accounting firms, manufacturing companies and corporate directors in investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Manhattan District Attorney, the Federal Reserve Bank, the New York Department of Financial Services, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and foreign regulators in Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada
  • Argued appeals in the Second, Seventh and Ninth Circuits and appellate courts in New York and California; argued numerous motions in federal and state courts in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin
  • Representative clients over the last 20 years include Alliance Capital Management, Banco Santander, Credit Suisse, Digicel Group, Highbridge Capital Management, J.P. Morgan & Co., Lehman Brothers International (Europe), Metalmark Capital Partners, Morgan Stanley & Co. and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP


Mr. Windels is recognized as a leading lawyer in various industry publications:

  • Chambers USA
  • The Legal 500 U.S.
  • Benchmark Litigation

Of Note

Current Memberships
  • Director, 2002-present; Chairman of Board, 2010-2016, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A
  • Director, 2004-present; Chairman of Board, 2015-present, Volunteers of Legal Service
  • Trustee, 2007-present; Chair, Audit Committee, Groton School
Past MembershiPS
  • Member, 2011-2015, Executive Committee of the New York City Bar; Member, Audit Committee
  • Chair, 2004-2007, Legal Services Awards Committee, New York City Bar
  • Member, 1997-2003; Chair, 2000-2003, Pro Bono and Legal Services Committee, New York City Bar

Professional History

  • Counsel, 2020-present
  • Partner, 1997-2020
  • Co-Practice Group Coordinator, Litigation Department, 2006-2011
  • Associate, 1990-1997
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Peter K. Leisure, U.S. District Court, S.D. New York, 1989-1990

Bar Admissions

  • State of New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, S.D. Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, E.D. New York
  • U.S. District Court, S.D. New York


  • B.A., Princeton University, 1986
    • magna cum laude
  • J.D., Harvard Law School, 1989
    • cum laude
    • Editor, Harvard Environmental Law Review