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BellSouth’s new general counsel, Marc Gary, said he doesn’t anticipate making major changes to the telecom’s 100-lawyer legal department, but he will make some “changes of emphasis.” He’s interested in having a “clear voice” on the issue of legal reform, which includes tort, class action and regulatory reform, he said. BellSouth favors some reforms, he said, particularly tort reform, and is looking at the situation on a state-by-state basis. He’s also interested in delivering legal services in a more high-tech and efficient “21st century” fashion and wants to work with the department and its outside counsel to do this. And he’d like to expand the department’s pro bono program. Gary declined to disclose the legal department’s budget, but he said that over the last few years the number of lawyers in the department has “been reduced somewhat” because of changes in the telecom industry and at BellSouth. For instance, the divestiture of the telecom’s Latin American operations means the company doesn’t need legal services there. Gary said he doesn’t anticipate any other significant reductions in the department. In fact, it could expand if the company needs more legal work or if it brings more work in-house, he said. Increased government scrutiny of corporate governance post-Sarbanes-Oxley has created more work for the department, Gary said, adding that it has developed the expertise to deal with corporate governance issues in-house for the most part. Related Story: Why BellSouth Chose Its New GC.

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