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John Place, the former Yahoo Inc. general counsel, has taken the helm at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. Place succeeds law professor Lawrence Lessig as executive director. Lessig founded the center after joining Stanford’s faculty last year. He will continue to serve as director of the organization. Place said Lessig and Stanford Dean Kathleen Sullivan asked him to take the post. “I couldn’t think of anything as intellectually fun” as this job, Place said. He said he would continue to focus on the center’s clinic program, which gives students the chance to do hands-on legal work. And last week a Stanford law student helped win a ruling in which a judge denied Ampex Corp. the right to learn the identity of an anonymous poster on a Yahoo message board, Place said. He also wants the center to serve as a think tank for issues surrounding the Internet by convening conferences and issuing white papers — and he wants it to be a resource for policy makers and legislators. The 46-year-old Place graduated from Stanford Law School in 1985. He began his career as an attorney in the Palo Alto, Calif., office of San Francisco’s Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison and served as senior corporate counsel at Adobe Systems Inc. before becoming Yahoo’s first in-house lawyer. He headed a legal department that grew to more than 50 attorneys before he retired from Yahoo in March. Stanford’s status in the IP arena has grown since Lessig joined the faculty. U.S. News & World Report ranked the school’s IP program No. 7 this year, while the IP curriculum at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law remained at No. 1. Place said there is no competition between the two schools. “I see it as more of a cooperative relationship and mutually beneficial relationship,” he said. “We’re all good friends.”

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