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Wells Fargo & Co. is changing its general counsel guard at the end of the year when Stanley Stroup retires, but little is expected to change under his replacement, Deputy GC James Strother. Wells Fargo announced Tuesday that Stroup, general counsel since 1998, is retiring, and Strother will take the mantle Jan. 1. Stroup, 59, said his decision was voluntary and that he wants to spend more time with his family, his friends and playing golf and tennis. “I’ve been thinking about this for the last 34 years — since I started working,” Stroup joked. Stroup said he’s proud of the work he did stitching together the legal departments of Norwest Corp. and Wells Fargo after the two companies merged in 1998. Stroup was general counsel of Norwest and named to the GC post of the combined company. He had big shoes to fill in replacing Guy Rounsaville Jr., who had been general counsel of Wells Fargo for 21 years. Rounsaville was widely respected for championing diversity programs in the legal community. Carroll, Burdick & McDonough partner Angela Bradstreet said Stroup “more than filled Rounsaville’s shoes.” Bradstreet, former president of the Bar Association of San Francisco, said Stroup immediately became an ardent supporter of BASF diversity initiatives after taking the post at Wells Fargo. “He has contributed in a short time enormously to diversity in our community,” Bradstreet said. “He doesn’t just talk the talk.” She added that she expects the same level of enthusiasm from Strother. Like Stroup, Strother came to Wells Fargo in its merger with the Minneapolis-based Norwest Corp. Strother joined Norwest in 1986 as an assistant general counsel in Minneapolis. In 1998, he moved to Des Moines, Iowa, to work as general counsel of Norwest’s mortgage unit. Strother moved to San Francisco in 2001 to line up behind Stroup as a possible replacement. Strother said he doesn’t envision sweeping changes in the department that Stroup built. With about 150 attorneys, the company’s legal department is spread out in eight states, with the largest groups in San Francisco, which has about 40 lawyers, and Minneapolis, he said. “Stan has created a group that has very little turnover, outstanding legal talent and great relationships with the clients,” Strother said. “My goal would be to continue that.” Stroup’s retirement didn’t surprise local lawyers like Gregory Clore, a partner at Gnazzo-Thill in San Francisco, who works with the banking giant. “Stan was nearing retirement age, from his perspective, and looking at managing that change in an effective way,” Clore said. “He’s doing that certainly with James Strother.” Clore said he was uncertain whether the change would affect how the bank’s work is doled out among local law firms. His firm, which on June 1 will merge into Chicago’s Chapman and Cutler, represents the bank in many large lending transactions and workouts and restructurings. However, Clore said, he expects the bank’s efforts to spread its work among female and minority lawyers will continue. Strother “has worked closely with Stan, and he’s been a lawyer with the bank for years,” Clore said, “so there’s always been a connection there.”

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