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The Super Chief of High Speed Rail The six-hour drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles could soon become a pleasant, 2�-hour train ride. For San Francisco attorney Joseph Petrillo, creating a high-speed rail system in California is not just about saving time. A real estate and land use partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, Petrillo was recently appointed chairman of California’s High-Speed Rail Authority. He will be responsible for keeping the largest public works project in U.S. history on track. According to Petrillo, building the $25 billion rail system is actually cheaper than expanding the freeways, and means less pollution in the long run. And with stations envisioned for places like Bakersfield and Fresno, the rail line will promote more efficient urban development and land use. Although constructing the rail system (with trains capable of reaching 220 mph speeds) is expected to take eight years, Petrillo takes the helm of the organization at a critical juncture. In November, Californians will vote on a $9 billion bond to finance the first leg of the project — essentially a referendum on the railroad. And in August, an environmental impact report is slated for release. But for Petrillo, whose resume includes helping draft the state’s landmark 1976 coastal act, bringing high-speed trains to the state is preferable to every other option — including doing nothing. “In a no-build alternative, you get tremendous traffic complications and an enormous additional use of land.” – Alexei Oreskovic It’s All About the Book of Business As general counsel at Robertson, Stephens & Co. Dana Welch worked with a lot of law firms. But Boston’s Ropes & Gray particularly caught her attention because of the reading habits of its partners. “There was a partner I worked with at the firm, and once a week at a certain time I could never reach him,” Welch said. “He was at a book club.” Welch also has a love of books, and when she decided to return to law firm life Ropes & Gray was one of the firms she contacted. “Their quality of work was extremely high level,” she said. “And I really liked the people.� I felt they were multi-dimensional.” Welch herself has a varied background. Before going to Boalt Hall at the age of 33 she loaded trucks at a post office in Cleveland, and before that worked on an assembly line at Ford Motor Co. After getting her law degree she had stints as a litigator at O’Melveny & Myers and Shearman & Sterling. She left the now-defunct Robertson, Stephens two years ago and became an arbitrator for securities self-regulatory agencies, including the National Association of Securities Dealers. She joined Ropes & Gray as co-managing partner of the firm’s San Francisco office in May. Ropes & Gray launched the outpost 18 months ago and since then has sought to shed its identity as a Boston firm. “Within the last year the firm decided to become national — like Latham & Watkins or O’Melveny & Myers,” Welch said. Welch said she’d like the S.F. office to grow to 50 to 75 lawyers in the next five years. Right now she plans to recruit partners focused on investment management and private equity companies, as well as a white-collar defense lawyer for the firm’s enforcement practice. – Brenda Sandburg Sidley, Gray Cary Add Partners Mid-year promotions have swelled the ranks of partners at Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich and in the San Francisco outpost of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. The promotions took effect July 1. Gray Cary named eight new non-equity partners, compared with 10 each of the last two years. The new class includes Pamela Rae Davis, a litigator in the firm’s San Francisco office who graduated from the King Hall School of Law at UC-Davis in 1994. In the firm’s East Palo Alto office, the newest partner is litigator Amanda Groves, who graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1996. In San Diego, the firm’s three new partners are Heather Stearns Ace, an employment specialist who graduated from Santa Clara in 1995; Edward Sikorski, an intellectual property litigator and 1995 graduate of American University Washington College of Law; and Christopher Smith, a 1995 Loyola Law School graduate who specializes in corporate work. The firm’s new Seattle-based partner is W. Michael Hutchings, and in Austin, Texas, Patrick Richter and Geoffrey Unger are the newest partners. Among the 28 new partners at Sidley Austin is Colleen Heather McDonald, who is based in San Francisco. McDonald specializes in structured finance work and graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 1989 with an advanced law degree. – Renee Deger

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