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BOSTON-Citigroup Global Wealth Management has launched a pioneering lawyer recruitment program that will place lawyers hired and employed by Citigroup at one of three law firms during their first two years as attorneys. Each side hopes to gain something from the arrangement: The firms want stronger ties with client Citigroup, while Citigroup needs a pipeline of trained junior lawyers. Citigroup will select three to six law students to spend part of their 2007 summer associate program at the New York office of one of three law firms and their first two years as attorneys at the same firm. The lawyers will spend most of their time on Citigroup matters while working at Bingham McCutchen; and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, both of New York. The chance to work with the Citigroup lawyers at the outset of their careers was critical for Bingham McCutchen, which has designated one summer 2007 slot for Citigroup, said partner Mary Gail Gearns. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to continue to work with them after they’ve moved over to their positions at Citigroup,” she said. Cleary also believes the program will enhance its ties to a “long-term and major client of the firm,” according to David Leinwand, chairman of the firm’s recruiting committee. “We at Cleary will be more closely connected to Citigroup,” he said. “It will result in a better relationship and enhance our ability to render services to our client.” A big investment With first-year associate salaries at the $145,000 mark at major New York law firms, the program is a sizable investment for Citigroup. Citigroup also plans to offer a bonus-a $35,000 forgivable loan, that vests over three years. If the lawyers stay at Citigroup for a year after leaving one of the firms, they won’t have to repay the loan. Although Citigroup’s Global Wealth Management law department has 75 lawyers, it lacks the training mechanisms used by law firms, said Mike Sharp, general counsel of Citigroup Global Wealth Management. The growing department also needs more junior-level lawyers, he said. “[In-house departments] . . . need to develop talent [the same way] investment bankers develop talent, by getting people right out of law school,” Sharp said. The program is popular with law students, many of whom aspire to in-house counsel positions. Citigroup interviewed 176 candidates at four law schools: Columbia Law School, Howard University School of Law, New York University School of Law and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

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