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William Anderson, a longtime labor and employment partner at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, died Wednesday following a two-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 50. Anderson’s death shook colleagues and clients who described him as an extremely caring and optimistic person, devoted to the firm and the people he represented. “Bill was one of the most generous souls ever put on this earth,” said former Brobeck partner Stephen Snyder in an e-mail to colleagues. “He had a natural magnetism that made you want to be his friend in the truest sense of the word — not just an acquaintance, but a friend of the soul. He never lost his guileless farm-boy quality.” Snyder said that like other partners, Anderson suffered over the demise of Brobeck, which shut down operations last week. “But it was one of Bill’s blessings that he was always able to see the good in every situation, and he took great comfort in knowing that his colleagues were able successfully to transition to new professional homes.” Anderson, who grew up on a dairy farm in Boyceville, Wis., got his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin. After graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1977, he joined Brobeck, where he became a partner in 1984. Melinda Riechert, who worked with Anderson and is now a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, said he was “a mentor to our group like nobody I had ever dealt with before.” “He treated everyone from the mail clerk up to John Chambers [the president of client Cisco Systems Inc.] the same,” added Carol Freeman, a Brobeck employment lawyer now with Morgan, Lewis. Freeman said Anderson called to mind a scene in the movie “As Good As It Gets” when Jack Nicholson tells Helen Hunt that she makes him want to be a better man. “That’s what Bill did,” she said. “He made everyone want to be a better person, a better mentor.” Gregory Lemmer, also a former Brobeck partner now at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, said he would remember Anderson’s selfless leadership and his “terrific laugh.” “He was very generous, honest and decent with people,” Lemmer said. A big fan of the Golden State Warriors basketball team, as well as the Minnesota Twins baseball team and Green Bay Packers football team, Anderson also contributed to local theater groups and went every year to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Many of Anderson’s clients expressed their condolences, including employees at Cisco, LSI Logic Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems Corp. “His dedication to our company’s success was unwavering,” one longtime client wrote in an e-mail message to Brobeck partners. “His courage is unequaled, his integrity is unquestioned and his passion for his work is indescribable.” Anderson is survived by his parents, William and Audrey, and younger brothers Brad, Rob and Rich.

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