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Bankruptcy lawyer David Wiseblood has made a hobby of turning office hallways into putting greens to practice his stroke and relax a little. So he was understandably disappointed when the carpets at Preston Gates & Ellis’ San Francisco office were ripped up and replaced as part of the firm’s merger with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham earlier this year. “We had a really nice carpet,” he said, laughing. “It was flat and the ball rolled pretty true.” But a lawyer today has to be used to having the rug pulled out from under him. Wiseblood, 47, has just joined Seyfarth Shaw, his sixth firm in eight years, if you count two mergers’ worth of new business cards. “I’ve just been fortunate to go on a couple of different rides,” he said, “and in this instance been fortunate to shape the direction in which I go.” Wiseblood arrives at 700-lawyer Seyfarth from 1,400-lawyer K&L Gates, having joined the global behemoth when his Preston Gates letterhead changed in the 2007 merger with Kirkpatrick. That came after Preston Gates swallowed Berg & Parker in 2005, where he was one of just 13 lawyers. He joined Berg & Parker because, while representing the firm at Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro, he’d liked the firm so much he jumped ship. And Jeffer landed him in 1999 when it acquired him in a group from what was then Frandzel Share Robins Kaplan & Bloom, following the death of a founding partner. Before spending nearly a decade at Frandzel, Wiseblood was at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, which he’d joined from his first firm, now known as Severson & Werson. Change seems to be the new status quo, said recruiter Jonathan Lindsey of Major, Lindsey & Africa. He contrasts the present trend with the old days, when even the unhappiest lawyer was reluctant to leave a bad relationship. “In the past, it was a little like marriages where you suffer in silence and then you die,” Lindsey said. In the week after leaving K&L Gates for the San Francisco office of 700-lawyer Seyfarth Shaw, Wiseblood was sanguine about setting up yet another office. “Each different segment has its own little history,” Wiseblood said. “One of my life philosophies is that life is a journey.” THE MORE THINGS CHANGE … So though Wiseblood’s name has graced more than a few business cards, his clients have been willing to update their Rolodexes. While conflict checks grew considerably more complicated when his 13-lawyer firm morphed into a 1,400-attorney giant, he said he has been able to bring most of his clients with him. “By and large, speaking for myself, it didn’t affect that much of a change in the day-to-day to practice,” he said. His clients say that the firm may change, but the lawyer, who mostly represents bankruptcy creditors, has stayed the same. “He can be a really diplomatic attorney, and be the proverbial shark,” said Chris Anderson, a special assets manager with Wachovia Small Business Capital. “We have parties that you’re dealing with that don’t respond to anything but threats � David can make a very diplomatic threat.” “The most difficult thing was updating the e-mail address,” said Anderson, who first worked with Wiseblood in 1992, when she was with Heller Financial. Sudden changes between small firms and large haven’t affected his attitude toward billing. “He’s one of those few attorneys who dislikes overbilling people,” Anderson said. In fact, while many lawyers bill four-tenths of an hour for letters they write, Wiseblood always bills one-tenth, she said, earning his missives the handle “point-one letters.” His adversaries agree. “He also understands the practical nature of the practice,” said Jeremy Katz, a partner at Pinnacle Law Group in San Francisco, who has served as trustee’s counsel opposite Wiseblood. “Especially when you’re at a big firm like him, with the rates they have, you can’t be wasting your client’s money.” Wiseblood said his standard hourly rate is “a bit north” of $400. SETTLING IN Wiseblood knows the up and downsides of big and small firms. At Berg & Parker he was a strong supporter of merging with Preston Gates, because he said it was difficult to get all the resources the small shop needed. He concedes that the upside of a smaller firm is the greater control lawyers have over rates. One thing he said he likes about Seyfarth was that it’s “sensitive to certain clients’ rate sensitivity,” as well as the talent in the firm’s insolvency practice. As in the past, he’ll be bringing his stable of clients to his new firm. He’ll also be bringing over his legal secretary, Shari O’Brien, whom he’s worked with since his days at Frandzel in the 1990s. F. Gale Connor, a colleague at Berg & Parker, Preston Gates and K&L Gates, wasn’t surprised at how easily Wiseblood adjusts to change. “I think it’s the reality of the practice these days.” Wiseblood is already adjusting to his new environment. He’s planning on bringing in some new putters to keep his indoor golf game sharp. He said he already has his eye on a hallway at Seyfarth. “I have grand designs,” he said.

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