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For John A. Nixon and Michael E. Bleier, Halloween marked more than a day for tricks or treats. It concluded decades of work at their respective employers as the two moved into new phases of their legal careers. The moves were two of several in recent weeks. Nixon has left the partnership of Blank Rome after 13 years with the firm and will show up at Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen’s Philadelphia offices on Monday as a partner in its employment services practice group. Bleier spent more than 25 years at Mellon Financial Corp. as general counsel and then special counsel to the chairman of the company. Prior to that he was an assistant general counsel to the board of governors at the Federal Reserve. He said he looks at his move to private practice at Reed Smith on Jan. 1 as completing a trifecta after his work for the government and in a corporate setting. Wolf Block approached Nixon, and he had a sit-down with chairman Mark Alderman and Charles G. Kopp, he said. There were several different factors that drew Nixon to the firm. He said he has long been a friend and mentee of Wolf Block’s executive committee vice chairman, Bernard Lee. Nixon said he also got the sense that opportunities such as management positions and practice growth might come a little quicker at Wolf Block. The Wolf Institute set up by the firm was a draw as well, he said, because of its assistance in helping him continue to get out in the community for speaking and training opportunities. Frank D’Amore of Attorney Career Catalysts said that after talking with Blank Rome attorneys over the years and hearing about Nixon’s practice, the only way Nixon would have left the firm is for a really good opportunity. “John really and truly loved Blank Rome,” he said. It was reported in March 2004 that Nixon was leaving the firm for the City Solicitor’s Office to head up the corporate and tax group, but that never came to fruition. He said once the press release was out, Mayor John Street ended up never signing the appointment letter. Nixon had contributed to the mayoral campaign of Sam Katz, and Nixon said it was determined by the administration that it didn’t want someone who had contributed to Katz’s campaign in that position. A call to the mayor’s office was not returned by the time of publication. According to D’Amore, Nixon’s career is starting to take off, and he is well liked in the community through his work with the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Bar Association. “John really stands out because he has the technical skills, but also has a very, very engaging personality,” he said. Nixon said that while he would be in the employment services group at Wolf Block, his practice would continue to focus on ERISA work, as well as executive compensation and employee benefits. While he isn’t sure yet whether his clients will follow him over to Wolf Block, Nixon said he generally represents clients in the areas of public sector pension funds and public and private companies for which he handles ERISA and executive compensation needs. “A lot of firms are trying to bulk up on the executive compensation [practice],” Nixon said, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised to see more moves in that area. D’Amore agreed that the recent change in legislation, including the Pension Protection Act of 2006, has created an upswing in lateral moves in the ERISA area. Michael Bleier Mellon Financial has been a client of Reed Smith’s for more than 100 years, Bleier said. For the quarter of a century that Bleier has been working with the firm, he said he has come to know Reed Smith as a firm with good sense, skills and standards. He said he anticipates an easy transition to the firm’s financial services group because he is familiar with the way Reed Smith operates. “They had always wanted to develop, I think, a broader regulatory practice,” he said. That is what Bleier will help do as a partner in the firm’s Pittsburgh office. His practice will focus on banking regulatory matters and a little on the legislation side, he said. Another big component for Bleier will be the mentoring of more junior partners at Reed Smith on the needs of in-house counsel. Bleier said a corporate counsel position brings with it a lot of issues that often have broad implications, and he is looking forward to sharing that experience with younger attorneys. He said he anticipates the firm’s relationship with Mellon Financial “at least continuing” at its current pace. Mellon Financial used to be one of the firm’s largest clients, Bleier said, but as the firm has expanded and diversified, it is less reliant on just one client. Bleier said he is looking forward to staying in touch with all of his friends in the financial services industry because he said he feels he still has something to contribute. Once Bleier let it be known that he was leaving Mellon Financial, he said he received other offers for positions outside of Pittsburgh. He said he made it clear that it was important to him to remain in the city and be there as it becomes revitalized. Other Recent Lateral Moves Brian T. Guthrie joined the litigation department of Saul Ewing as a partner in the Philadelphia office last week. He had served as chief counsel for business litigation at Cigna Corp. for 14 years. Guthrie’s practice focuses on insurance litigation, including class actions, reinsurance, insurance coverage, bad faith, trade practices and antitrust. Guthrie left Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young in 2001 to join Drinker Biddle & Reath. Majorie S. Jacobs left Fox Rothchild last week to join Duane Morris as a partner in the real estate department of the Philadelphia office. Jacobs concentrates her practice on eminent domain work, real estate taxation and zoning issues. At Fox Rothschild, she was the co-chairwoman of its condemnation and tax appeals groups. Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy brought on solo practitioner Jill Fisher in mid-October to head up its employment department. She specializes in various aspects of employment law and human resources management. Patrick J. Farley joined Blank Rome’s intellectual property group as a partner in the firm’s Philadelphia office a few weeks ago. He was previously a patent attorney with Woodcock Washburn. He counsels companies working in the area of biotechnology and pharmaceutical sciences in various aspects of patent law. Harlan S. Stone joined the Pittsburgh office of Meyer Darragh Buckler Bebenek & Eck as a partner at the end of September. He focuses his practice on municipal law and commercial litigation. He spent 20 years at the firm of his father and brother, Stone & Stone, until moving to Meyer Darragh. Prior to that he was with the Allegheny County Public Defender’s Office.

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