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Peter Astiz may not work for Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, but he’s feeling the effects of the firm’s plan to disband. The head of Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich’s corporate group has spent the past several days with Brobeck on his brain. Astiz is chatting up lawyers from the soon-to-be-defunct firm about possible jobs on the one hand, and on the other, is strategizing with his partners about picking up prospective Brobeck clients. He has also had to quell the fears of associates who see the down economy and worry their firm may be headed toward the same fate. “I think in the short term there is a lot of activity for everybody,” Astiz said. Astiz expected his job as corporate group head to be a tough one given the sluggish economy and slowdown in corporate work. He took over in December to replace partner Margaret Kavalaris, who transferred to the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. In this tough economic climate, he said, there was no turning down the post. Given the environment, “whatever anyone asks us to do, we all need to pitch in and do it,” he said. Plus, Astiz had some extra time on his hands, and he has led the group in the past. Astiz was group leader when he left Gray Cary in 1999 for an executive job at a dot-com. He returned to Gray Cary in early 2001 and was still trying to rebuild his practice when he was asked to lead the corporate group. “People are very concerned about stability,” Astiz said. “What Brobeck does is reinforce the challenge of the existing environment.” That means taking extra care articulating the firm’s marketing plans and in developing associate training programs. Because the corporate group is seeing fewer transactions of all kinds, the partners need to dream up other ways to train associates in lieu of hands-on projects, he said. And while Brobeck’s troubles have certainly made Astiz’s job more interesting, the firm’s woes have also made everyone reflect. “The more important issue that everyone is focusing on is what happened to them and how to keep it from happening to you,” he said.

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