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Ditching safety and security for the unpredictability of a start-up, Douglas Hammond, 38, left New York-based LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae to join the fledgling National Financial Partners Corp. in 1999. His gamble has paid off: first, when the company went public last year, and again this January, when he was promoted to executive vice president and general counsel of the New York-based distributor of financial services products. He replaces Robert Kleinberg, who, according to Hammond, is considering several opportunities. Hammond’s legal career began in 1991, when he joined New York-based commercial litigation firm Wilson Elser. During his three years at Wilson, he specialized in insurance work. One of his major clients was New York-based Gulf Insurance Group, with which he developed a close relationship. The company liked Hammond so much that in 1994, Gulf’s general counsel, Spiro Bantis, recruited Hammond as the company’s assistant general counsel. In 1995 Hammond transitioned out of the legal department and became the assistant vice president for financial institutions. He worked with Gulf executives on developing new products, underwriting financial institution risk, and developing risk management strategies for financial institutions. At Gulf, Hammond developed another important lawyer-client relationship � this time as the client � with the chairman of LeBoeuf’s insurance practice, Peter Demmerle, who was one of Gulf’s outside counsel. Hammond wanted to get into acquisitions. So when LeBoeuf, which represents various insurance brokers and companies, offered him a position in their insurance practice, he jumped at the opportunity. But Hammond soon developed contacts that led him back to an in-house role. At LeBoeuf, Hammond started working for New York-based Apollo Capital Management, a private equity firm that was developing the corporate structure and business model of the then fledgling start-up NFP. Impressed by the people who were signing on with the venture, he approached the company in 1999 and was hired as a staff attorney soon after. The company went public in September 2003, and the rest, to hear Hammond tell it, is start-up history. “It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,” he says. “I’ve seen the company grow from a market cap of zero to over a billion dollars.” Sounds like a risk worth taking.

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