Margaret E. Tahyar
  1. Partner

Ms. Tahyar is co-head of Davis Polk’s Financial Institutions Group and a member of the fintech practice. Her practice focuses on providing strategic bank and financial regulatory advice. She advises banks, financial institutions and technology companies engaging in all types of deals and cases in traditional and cutting-edge financial regulatory topics, including corporate governance and supervisory relationships with regulated boards, the role of in-house legal departments in a banking organization, consent order remediation, bank chartering, payment systems, bank powers and activities, recovery and resolution planning, securities disclosure, capital and liquidity, cybersecurity and data privacy and attorney client privilege in the banking sector.

Ms. Tahyar has been engaged in financial services advice and regulatory reform since the early 1990s. Her clients include many of the largest domestic and foreign financial institutions, many regional banks and technology companies. Ms. Tahyar has worked on almost two dozen living wills for clients ranging from the largest and most complex organizations to smaller regional banks. During the pandemic, she has been deeply involved in advising clients on all aspects of the Main Street Lending Program and the Paycheck Protection Program.

From 1997 to 2009, Ms. Tahyar worked in the Davis Polk Paris and London offices. She clerked for Thurgood Marshall in the 1988 Supreme Court term.

In addition to her full-time practice, she teaches financial regulation as an adjunct Lecturer-in-Law at Harvard Law School and is a co-author of Financial Regulation: Law and Policy (2nd ed., Foundation Press), the leading textbook for law students in the area, and FinTech Law: The Case Studies (July 2020).

Work Highlights

  • Advice to numerous banks and other financial institutions as to all of the financial assistance programs or facilities established by the government to mitigate the harm to the U.S. economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, including in particular the main street lending program, paycheck protection program (PPP), PPP Liquidity Facility (PPPLF), term asset-backed securities lending facility (TALF), commercial paper funding facility (CPFF), primary dealer credit facility (PDCF) and related capital and liquidity relief
  • Led the teams that produced memos on the Main Street Program, Main Street Program Legal Architecture, Key CARES Act Provisions and Fed Programs for Corporates, CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program,  Expansion of SBA Loan Program under the CARES Act, and Economic Stabilization: Congress Passes the CARES Act 
  • CenterState Bank Corporation on its all-stock merger of equals with South State Corporation to create a leading Southeastern-based regional bank with a total market value of approximately $6 billion
  • CenterState Bank Corporation on its $200 million notes offering
  • SLM Corporation (Sallie Mae) in connection with the strategic separation of its loan management, servicing and asset recovery business, known as Navient, from its consumer banking business 
  • Several large banking organizations in consent order remediation projects
  • Multiple securities offerings as either issuer or underwriters counsel for banks and nonbank financial companies
  • A large regional bank in connection with its defense in a putative PPP class action
  • BPI and SIFMA in their development of comment letters on the Federal Reserve and FDIC’s multiple proposals to change the regulations around living wills
  • Several fintech companies on strategic approaches, including a national bank charter, an OCC limited purpose charter, and a state industrial bank charter
  • ICICI on all aspects of U.S. securities laws related to its NYSE listing and 144A offerings    

In addition to her full-time practice, Ms. Tahyar has taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School and Harvard Law School.  


Ms. Tahyar is a recognized leader in the legal industry:

  • The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement  "Law360 Distinguished Legal Writing Award," 2020
  • Chambers USA – Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Compliance): Nationwide, Band 1
  • Chambers Global – Banking & Finance: Mainly Regulatory, USA, Band 1
  • IFLR1000 – Financial Services Regulatory, Highly Regarded
  • The National Law Journal – "Outstanding Women Lawyers," 2015
  • Law360 – "Banking MVP of the Year," 2014
  • The Burton Awards for Legal Achievement  "Distinguished Legal Writing Award," 2009

Of Note

  • Author, FinTech Law: The Case Studies (July 2020)

  • Author, Legal Interpretation is Not Like Reading Poetry – How to Let Go of Ordinary Reading and Interpret the Legal Framework of the Regulatory State 
  • Thought Leader on Financial Regulation, Davis Polk FinReg Blog
  • Co-Author, Financial Regulation: Law and Policy (2nd ed., Foundation Press)
  • Editor, Davis Polk Financial Crisis Manual
  • Co-Author, “Foreign Banks as U.S. Financial Holding Companies” (Chapter 11), Regulation of Foreign Banks and Affiliates in the United States (8th ed.)
  • Co-Author, “That Which We Call a Bank: Revisiting the History of Bank Holding Company Regulation in the United States,” Review of Banking & Financial Law, Vol. 31, 2011-2012
  • Co-Author, “Transparency and Confidentiality in the Post Financial Crisis World – Where to Strike the Balance?” Harvard Business Law Review, Vol. 1, August 2011
  • Co-Author, Credible Living Wills: The First Generation, Davis Polk and McKinsey & Co., April 2011
  • Author of numerous articles and a frequent speaker at conferences
  • Member, Board of Advisors, University of North Carolina Law School’s Center for Banking & Finance
  • Vice Chairman, Banking Law Subcommittee on International Banking, American Bar Association

Professional History

  • Partner, 1997-present
  • Associate, 1989-1997
  • New York office, 1995-1997 and 2009-present
  • Paris office, 2002-2009
  • London office, 1997-2002
  • Washington DC office, 1989-1995
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court of the United States, 1988-1989
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Robert H. Bork, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, 1987-1988

Bar Admissions

  • State of New York
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit


  • A.B., University of Michigan, 1982
  • J.D., Columbia Law School, 1987
    • Valedictorian
    • Articles Editor, Columbia Law Review


  • French