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His friends call him “Pooch,” but starting this fall, lawyers at the newly merged media monolith AOL Time Warner will be calling Paul Cappuccio “boss.” The race to nab the top legal job — between America Online, Inc.’s GC Cappuccio or Time Warner Inc.’s GC Christopher Bogart — was a closely watched one. Although announcement of the result came in May, Cappuccio, 39, will not take command of the combined departments until the deal closes in the fall. Cappuccio says it is too early for specifics about how the two distinctly dissimilar departments will be melded, but he does not anticipate big changes. “The AOL legal staff will continue to be the SWAT team for Internet deals, though their scope will likely be even a bit broader than before,” he says. “And the Time Warner legal staff will continue to perform the corporate legal functions, only now for the combined company.” Cappuccio says that he does not foresee any layoffs. In packing up his office at AOL’s Dulles, Va., headquarters, Cappuccio will be moving away from a lean and speedy staff of 50 lawyers, all of whom report directly to him. When he unpacks in his new digs at Time Warner’s New York headquarters, he will take charge of about 350 more lawyers. They are currently spread out among six operating divisions, located in four cities, and overseen by six general counsel — a big, far-flung force to manage. According to former colleagues and clients, however, Cappuccio is undaunted by major challenges. A working class kid from West Peabody, Mass., Cappuccio sold shoes at Thom McAn to help save for college. He nailed top grades at Harvard Law School and then held two Supreme Court clerkships. After a stint at the Justice Department, Cappuccio moved to the Washington, D.C., office of Chicago’s Kirkland & Ellis, helping to persuade solicitor general Kenneth Starr to join the firm with him. By all accounts Cappuccio was a star litigation partner there, representing GTE Corporation and Bell Atlantic Corporation. According to Christopher Landau, one of Cappuccio’s former partners at Kirkland & Ellis, he possesses a great legal brain, personal charisma, and political savvy: “Paul is like a force of nature.” Landau recalls that when he first learned that the AOL Time Warner general counsel spot was up for grabs, he thought, “Boy, I would never bet against Paul Cappuccio.” The other contender for the job, Time Warner’s Bogart, was a well-matched opponent. A senior associate at New York-based Cravath, Swaine & Moore, he was brought in by Time Warner president Richard Parsons in 1998 to be GC Peter Haje’s heir apparent. Cappuccio will report to Parsons, who will become co-chief operating officer; Bogart, who took over the top spot Jan. 1, will report to Cappuccio for now. Bogart’s future role remains unclear, but the 34-year-old makes it clear that whatever he does, it won’t be in Cappuccio’s law department. But he sounds sanguine. And why not? Bogart’s second child was born 10 days after the management team announcement, and he has a five-year contract totaling more than $1 million a year in salary and bonus. Bogart calls Cappuccio “a friend,” and says that early in the process they both agreed that either one of them would do the job well. “Paul is a terrific lawyer, and I feel confident leaving a number of exciting projects in his hands,” says Bogart. What drew Bogart to Time Warner in the first place was the chance to “fuse law with business management,” he says. The time, show, or place, however, are still up in the air.

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