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Thelen Reid & Priest partners didn’t stray too far from their current leadership in electing a new chairman. Thomas Igoe Jr., elected by partners Friday to helm Thelen, has served as vice chairman of the firm for the last five years. He takes the reins April 1. Igoe — a New York-based corporate, securities and finance lawyer — chaired New York’s Reid & Priest from 1994 until its merger with San Francisco’s Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges. He then took second in command of the combined firm under Richard Gary, who had been chairman of Thelen since 1992. Gary surprised some of his partners when he announced he would not seek re-election when his current term ends March 31. Gary said he is casting about for other opportunities and may leave the firm. Igoe said he was content with his role as vice chairman and would not have run for the top slot had Gary not stepped aside. “Given his decision to step down, I thought I could step up and do the job,” Igoe said. He did, however, face competition. Though the firm’s election may have lacked the mudslinging that characterizes a political campaign, Igoe still had an opponent and stumped for votes among his partners. The other candidate for the chairman’s post was Charles Birenbaum, the San Francisco-based head of Thelen’s employment group. The firm closed its polls late Friday and announced the winners Monday. Partners also elected a vice chairman in the same election and chose Mark Weitzel, a San Francisco partner who co-leads the firm’s energy, utility and infrastructure group. He was facing New York-based project finance partner David Graybeal for the second slot. Weitzel said he wanted to move from managing a practice group to firm leadership to help the firm grow and improve its client service. One of his top priorities is sharpening the firm’s focus on cross-selling the firm’s practice groups, particularly among its large, institutional clients. The firm is already organized into client teams that focus on big clients, and Weitzel said he hopes to see that expanded. Weitzel manages a team of lawyers representing Calpine Corp., an independent energy producer that generally has lawyers from all of the firm’s practice groups working on its matters. On the East Coast, Igoe also leads a legal team representing a large institutional client. He oversees work for MDU Resources Group Inc., a mining and natural gas conglomerate. Igoe joined Reid & Priest in 1972 after graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law and made partner in 1981. In 1990, he joined the management committee of Reid and took over as chairman four years later. Igoe said he plans to continue representing clients. Currently, he devotes about 2,800 hours to firm business as vice chairman and about 600 hours to clients. He said the constant connection to client service will help him as chairman. “Our partnership today wants leaders who are involved in the day-to-day practice of law,” Igoe said. “If you’re a practicing lawyer, you keep track of trends in the law, you keep track of competition, you become familiar with pricing issues, and you’re familiar with the strategy of your competitors.”

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