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Three decades removed from his founding of Hartford’s Hebb & Gitlin, international debt restructuring wizard Richard A. Gitlin is no less excited about the prospect of once more growing a business from scratch. It’s possible that Gitlin, 60, is even more gung-ho over his latest — and first nonlegal — career endeavor as chairman and CEO of a global consulting firm simply named Gitlin & Co. Unlike when he and Edwin G. Hebb Jr. formed the law firm that bore their names until its 1999 merger with Bingham McCutchen, “I have a dollar or two in the bank, this time,” Gitlin quipped while on an extended business trip to Japan last week. “Bingham won’t miss a beat,” Gitlin said of withdrawing from a firm that had counted him as its top rainmaker when it remained a Hartford-based enterprise. STAGING HIS EXIT In hindsight, Gitlin admitted the merger with Bingham was done with his ultimate exit from the firm in mind. He said, going into the deal, he gave Bingham management an informal commitment that he would stay on for a minimum of three years. “I’d have stayed longer if it was necessary to compete the transition,” he vowed last week. Gitlin also wanted to ensure Hebb & Gitlin lawyers a “much bigger platform for their [own] future,” he said. Hartford-based Bingham partner Michael J. Reilly now jointly heads-up the firm’s 85-lawyer financial restructuring group that Gitlin put on an international stage in the early 1990s by securing a starring role in the trans-Atlantic bankruptcy of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell. (Tina L. Brozman, former chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, recently was named as the group’s other co-head.) Reilly noted that Gitlin “always had something in mind that was going to be beyond law firms and practicing law.” As far back as five years ago, Reilly said Gitlin turned over the practice group’s reins to him and partner Evan D. Flaschen. Even earlier than that, he began transferring his client responsibilities to other Hebb & Gitlin lawyers. In the last three or four years before the merger, Gitlin took on what Reilly called “a senior strategic role. � By the mid-1990s, Richard was just part of Hebb & Gitlin. . . . That was his plan.” Reilly maintained. Insiders at Bingham’s Hartford office say, though Bingham used Gitlin’s name value liberally in dog-and-pony shows, they’re hardly hurting for work in his absence. In recent years, the local business generation load has been shared by partners such as Flaschen and Robert M. Dombroff, who, according to a source, are among Bingham’s 10 most productive rainmakers firm wide. “Since the merger, I don’t know of anyone who’s worked on a Gitlin matter,” that lawyer said. Indeed, at a time when most firms across the country are either cutting back or holding steady on associate salaries, Bingham earlier this year increased base pay for its rank-and-file attorneys in Hartford, at least partially due to a glut of work related to the sagging economy. LARGER ROLE TO PLAY Leasing space next to Bingham’s on the 14th floor at One State Street in Hartford, Gitlin will provide corporate advisory and restructuring services. “He wants to see if he can start another business as successfully as he started Hebb & Gitlin,” said Bingham communications director Hank Shafran, noting that both the firm and Gitlin expect “he will be sending [legal] business our way.” On his own about a month, Gitlin already has his first major client: Nomura International, the largest securities house in Japan. Nomura is looking to expand its restructuring and corporate advisory business, and retained Gitlin to that end. “They [Nomura] really wanted to be a larger force in the changes taking place in Japan,” Gitlin said. After a decade of economic decline and deflation, Japanese leaders, Gitlin said, realize they can no longer put off a move toward Western-style restructuring practices. But with a culture that values employees over corporate institutions, considers bankruptcy a social embarrassment and largely shuns litigation, it’s a delicate issue. Reilly said Gitlin is the perfect choice to help Japanese companies navigate the storm in that he’s a tough negotiator, but not a contentious one. “I loved being a lawyer for 30 years,” Gitlin noted. He, however, sees himself having an even larger impact helping businesses right themselves before their creditors force them into court.

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