DARKE COUNTY — Over the course of two decades, one local man’s career path has taken him all the way from The Treaty City to The Big Apple to London, England.
Matt Fitzwater, Greenville High School Class of 1995, was recently promoted the Global Head of Litigation, Investigations and Enforcement for Barclays of London.
Founded in 1690, Barclays is a British multinational banking and financial services company headquartered in London. It is a universal bank with operations in retail, wholesale and investment banking, as well as wealth management, mortgage lending and credit cards. It has operations in over 50 countries and territories and has around 48 million customers.
Fitzwater kindly explained, in layman’s terms, his job duties at Barclays.
“I oversee all litigation and investigations the bank is involved in regardless of the country. Our main operations are in the United Kingdom (London) and New York so much of my job involves managing the litigations and investigations in those areas. I manage a team of over 60 lawyers and paralegals and I work with them daily on case strategy and management.”
He called being promoted by his company an “incredible opportunity.”
“Barclays is an amazing place to work and one of the world’s largest financial institutions,” he explained. “I get to work on the most interesting and complex cases in the entire legal industry and every day is a fun and unique challenge.”
Prior to taking on this role, Fitzwater served as the Americas Head of Litigation, Investigations and Enforcement at Barclays from January 2014 through May 2017 based in New York City. Before joining Barclays, Fitzwater was Special Counsel at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell in New York where his focus was on white collar criminal defense for large companies including large financial institutions. Fitzwater had been with Sullivan & Cromwell from September 2001 through December 2013.
Fitzwater is a 2001 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Law where he graduated with honors and was Order of the Coif. He is also a 1998 graduate of Miami University (Ohio) where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree and was a double major in Political Science and History. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with honors in both majors and was Phi Beta Kappa.
At Greenville, Fitzwater graduated Summa Cum Laude with honors and was salutatorian of his high school class. In his senior year, he was president of the National Honor Society, the Science Club, the French Club, the Band Council, drum major for the marching band, captain of the GHS Academic Quiz Bowl team, member of student council, and captain of the GHS mock trial team.
When asked how his upbringing in Greenville prepared him — or did not prepare him — for the world of New York City, and then London, he said any culture shock was quickly discarded.
“I first came to New York City in the summer of 2000 after my second year of law school. I had only spent 20 hours in NY before I arrived there to work at Sullivan & Cromwell and moved into an apartment I had never seen with someone I had never met,” he said. “Everything turned out great but I didn’t know how big of a change it was going to be for me until I got there. I had never ridden the subway in my life (not to mention I had no idea how to read a subway map) and the building I worked in had as many people in it as all of Greenville. That being said, I adjusted relatively quickly and have really come to love NY.”
Though living abroad for many years, Fitzwater takes time to “come home” once a year.
“Greenville will always be my home and I come back every year for the [Darke County] Fair,” he said. “I love where I grew up and I believe that my Midwestern sensibilities and values have always served me well. I believe in honesty, fairness and being straight-forward with someone. While I may have moved away many years ago, my heart and soul will always be Ohio and summertime in Greenville — preferably eating a Spanish hot dog at Jim’s or several cheese-rites at the Maid-Rite.”
Fitzwater credited many local legal professionals for helping him set out his path.
“Jeff Amick, Roger Hurley, Tom Hanes, Tom Graber, Mike McClurg, Roger Hurley, Jim Detling, Dan Schipfer, Tom Guillozet and Tom Cooper — they were fantastic to me and really were great mentors,” he said. “Eileen Litchfield was also incredibly helpful to me as she ran the Greenville law library at the time and showed me how to do legal research and was patient in answering my many questions.”
He’s been married 15 years to his wife, Elizabeth, who is also a lawyer.
“We met at Ohio State during law school,” he said. “No kids yet — though I get asked that question an increasing amount by my father (Larry Fitzwater)!”
Outside of work, Fitzwater says he loves to travel and trying new restaurants and types of food.
“When I arrived in NY, I never had a passport and had never traveled outside the United States. Twenty years later, I have been all over the globe and met all kinds of interesting people and eaten so much food! The world is a big and beautiful place and I feel incredibly lucky to have seen a fair bit of it,” he said.
In addition to being an attorney, Fitzwater also considers himself an ambassador for The Buckeye State.
“I have already started educating people here (as I did back in NY) about the many important contributions that Ohio has made to the world,” he said. “Many of them had not heard of Ohio before they met me and they now know that Ohio has contributed the second-most Presidents of all the states, that the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison were from Ohio, and that Ohio helped win the Civil War producing both U.S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. I was in Paris this weekend wearing my Cincinnati Reds shirt and several people came up to me and introduced themselves as expats living in France. The Ohio bond runs deep!”
He added: “However, I still can’t quite get anyone to understand what a maid-rite is other than I tell them that it is quite delicious.”