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Yahoo Inc. has named Michael Callahan as general counsel to replace Jonathan Sobel, who is leaving the Internet company next month to join San Francisco’s Folger Levin & Kahn as a partner. Callahan, who is currently deputy general counsel, will take on his new duties Sept. 2, Sobel’s last day at Yahoo. Sobel said he is planning to take a vacation and will start work at Folger Levin in November. For Callahan, who joined Yahoo in 1999, becoming the top lawyer and manager of a 60-lawyer department at the Sunnyvale Internet portal company is a “dream job.” “There’s a long history at Yahoo of hands-on problem solving,” Callahan said. “Yahoo was a place where I felt the legal team has a close, active relationship with the business team.” Yahoo’s legal department has been pivotal in the company’s development, said Kenton King, a Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner who has represented Yahoo in a handful of recent deals. “There’s a lot of law that has yet to be developed surrounding the Internet, and because of Yahoo’s huge footprint and significance to the Internet as a whole, the GC takes a leading role in shaping legal issues in the Internet,” King said. Callahan, 35, worked as an associate at Skadden, Arps from 1995 until 1999, when he did a short stint as GC and head of business development for Foster City-based Electronics for Imaging Inc. He graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1995. Sobel’s departure caps a two-year tenure after being named to replace Yahoo’s first GC, John Place, who retired in 2001. Sobel joined Yahoo in May 1998 and was head of the company’s complex technology deals group when he was plucked to become GC. Sobel said he took over at a difficult time for the company, which was suffering from falling advertising revenue after the Internet bubble had burst and technology companies were in retreat. “I’m proud of the culture we’ve built,” Sobel said. “The company has navigated its challenges well.” Sobel said he let Yahoo executives know of his plans to leave months ago, and he participated in selecting his replacement. He said the company looked both outside and inside the department and settled on Callahan, in part for his good judgment and keen understanding of the company and industry. Sobel said he is looking forward to rejoining Folger Levin — where he worked as an associate from 1992 to 1996 — after years of working in house at Yahoo, Chips and Technologies Inc. and Electronics for Imaging. His tenure at Electronics for Imaging did not overlap with Callahan’s. “It’s an exciting time for me to begin a new phase in my career,” said the 39-year-old Sobel. “I was fortunate in having a dream job very early on, and I’m looking forward to a change and new opportunities.” At Folger Levin, Sobel will likely take on a leadership role in developing the firm’s technology company practice in its 70-lawyer San Francisco headquarters, said partner Douglas Sullivan, who remembers Sobel’s stint as an associate. “With his experience at Yahoo, he has experience in both the business areas and litigation,” Sullivan said, adding he anticipates Sobel will work with both the firm’s litigation and corporate practices. Folger Levin is largely focused on litigation, with about 25 percent of the firm devoted to corporate work, Sullivan said. The firm also represents a handful of technology companies in intellectual property disputes, Sullivan said. And it has done some work for Yahoo in recent years, including defending the company in a privacy class action and handling some IP issues. Sullivan said the firm is hoping to increase its technology company work with Sobel’s arrival, saying, “It’s obviously a practice that is fairly robust nowadays.”

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