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After a six-month stint — barely enough time to sharpen her pencils — Christine Edwards has departed from her job at Chicago’s ABN Amro North America Inc. The erstwhile general counsel of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., who left Wall Street amid one of the more sensational episodes in that institution’s history, has landed again — this time in the top legal spot at Bank One Corporation, the nation’s fourth-largest bank holding company. Though not quite Morgan Stanley, Chicago’s Bank One brings Edwards a step closer to the high-stakes financial world of which she was a part. After a humble start in 1974 as a staff lawyer with Sears, Roebuck and Co., Edwards began her upward climb, becoming general counsel of the business unit of Discover Card in 1988, then general counsel and corporate secretary of Dean Witter, Discover & Co. two years later. After Dean Witter’s merger with Morgan Stanley in 1997, Edwards got the top legal position of the newly created financial giant, beating out some formidable contenders. But Edwards’ world quickly changed last year when it was revealed that the investment firm had paid $10,000 to an informant in connection with the arrest of former Morgan employee Christian Curry, who had filed a discrimination lawsuit against the investment bank. (Curry, who is black, claimed that he was fired for his race, and for posing nude in a gay pornographic magazine.) The case was recently settled; terms were not disclosed. Although she was never charged with wrongdoing, and Morgan brass said she had not done anything improper, Edwards resigned during the height of that scandal. Edwards says she left ABN Amro because Bank One offers challenges that are not available at a subsidiary of a foreign bank. (Chicago’s ABN Amro North America is owned by ABN Amro Holding NV of the Netherlands.) Plus, she says she’s excited by the big management changes that Bank One’s new chairman and chief executive officer James “Jamie” Dimon has instituted. Dimon, who himself arrived at Bank One only last spring amid great fanfare, faces the daunting challenge of making the financially troubled bank profitable. By most accounts, it was Dimon who knocked at Edwards’s door. Perhaps Dimon finds in Edwards a kindred spirit: Both were rising stars on Wall Street when their careers hit speed bumps (Dimon was squeezed out of the presidency of Citigroup Inc., in 1998 after losing to Sanford Weill in a power struggle). Now reporting to Dimon, Edwards already has started to make her own imprint at Bank One by hiring Leonard Gail, 36, to be deputy general counsel and senior vice president. Plucked from the lucrative partnership of Chicago boutique Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott, Gail first worked with Edwards as outside counsel when he was an associate at Chicago’s Kirkland & Ellis. One Chicago recruiter labels Gail a trophy hire, noting that Bartlitt Beck is a “showy” firm with lots of star power. Edwards calls Gail a “great find.” Back in New York, Edwards’ successor, Donald Kempf, Jr., a former Kirkland senior partner, is said to be running a smooth ship, unifying the Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter camps. But mention Edwards’ name there, and strong opinions surface. Some — particularly those who came over from Dean Witter with Edwards — are still smarting from what they perceive as unfair treatment of their former boss by the blue bloods of Morgan Stanley. “It was the merger of the white shoes with the white socks,” explains one lawyer. Lacking fancy academic or big firm credentials, Edwards was not cut from the standard Morgan Stanley bolt. Edwards refuses to dwell on the past. She’d rather talk about Bank One, where, she says with a laugh, her biggest challenge will be “keeping stride with Jamie Dimon.”

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