Fall 2005 -- Xavier University Magazine
by Greg Schaber
Denis M. Forster
Bachelor of Science in Political Science, 1960 | Law Offices of Denis M. Forster, New York
Firm Focus | Denis Forster is one of the nation's leading attorneys in the area 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 the Kingdom of Belgium's Ministry of Finance, Bill Gates Investments, Procter & Gamble, MSNBC, and the Inter-American Development Bank
Golden Gates | Denis 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 | Denis 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, he 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, he returned to Latin America, teaching at the law school of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. By the late 1970's 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, he formed his own firm in New York City. One of his first cases was to assist Procter & Gamble and its Cincinnati counsel in a successful, highly publicized suit against Bankers Trust for more than $150 million in derivative losses.