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A senior in-house lawyer at the New York Life Insurance Co. has resigned after the company discovered in recent weeks that he had never been licensed to practice law. Michael A. Watson, 44, first joined the insurance giant in 1996 and had been promoted last July to first vice president and deputy general counsel. One of five deputies, he was responsible for the unit of the company’s legal department focused on investments, mergers and acquisitions and financial transactions. In a statement issued last week, New York Life spokesman William Werfelman said Watson had resigned immediately after admitting he was not licensed. He declined to describe how the company discovered Watson’s status. Watson did not return a call to his home last week. The largest mutual life insurance company in the United States, New York Life has a 47-lawyer general counsel’s office headed by Thomas English, to whom Watson reported.

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