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When we last checked in with Anastasia Kelly, she’d just resigned as GC of Sears, Roebuck & Company [May 2003, "The Anastasia Mystery, Solved"]. In August, after a whirlwind recruitment, she took over as executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at Ashburn, Virginia-based MCI, plunging head first into one of the most tumultuous chapters in the company’s 35-year history. There’s MCI’s bankruptcy, for one, which the company filed for last July after admitting it had overstated earnings and improperly recorded billions of dollars of expenses. Then there are the allegations, made by rival long-distance carrier AT&T Corp., that MCI redirected long-distance calls through Canada to avoid paying U.S. carriers. All of which is a far cry from the quiet six-month sabbatical Kelly had planned to take after leaving Sears. Her break was cut short in July, when she got a call from recruiting firm Spencer Stuart. In short order, Kelly met with MCI chairman and CEO Michael Capellas, who was putting together a new management team. He needed a replacement for Michael Salsbury, the MCI GC who resigned in June. Impressed with Capellas’s vision for the company, Kelly accepted his offer. In a mid-August phone interview, Kelly likened her first week on the job to “drinking from a fire hose.” Her to-do list read something like this: (1) prepare for a September 8 hearing, before U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, on the company’s reorganization plan; (2) address the General Services Administration’s notice of disbarment, requiring MCI to set up financial and compliance controls before it can get any new government contracts; (3) oversee outside counsel Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s investigation of AT&T’s allegations; (4) work with the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York to resolve the allegations; (5) deal with issues on Capitol Hill, including potential tax legislation and hearings about the telecommunications industry. Daunting as all this has been, there have been a few bright spots in Kelly’s transition. Her familiarity with Washington, D.C., where she worked as GC of Fannie Mae from 1995 until 1999, made it easier to move her family there. She’s also brought in backup, enticing Carol Petrin, who was the principal deputy general counsel at Sears, to join her at MCI as senior vice president and deputy GC. And Kelly praises the bankruptcy lawyers from Weil, Gotshal & Manges who are handling legal issues related to the company’s reorganization. But even with their aid � and a department of 300 lawyers � Kelly admits, laughing, “I’m not going to get much sleep.” That’s a claim even AT&T will not dispute.

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