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As career changes go, there is more than meets the eye to the one under way for Bonnie L. Metz. Metz, now a partner in the Wilmington, Del., office of Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling, is scheduled to start Dec. 5 at Verizon Delaware as a vice president for government affairs, a newly created post at the telecommunications company she represented as outside counsel on regulatory matters. Not only is Metz leaving the distinctive culture of a private law firm for a corporate climate, but she is shedding the only work environment she has known since graduating from law school in 1990. It is also a move that puts Metz in a position to make a name for herself. “This announces a new player,” said William E. Manning, the Wilmington office’s senior partner who is more than a little sorry — but not the least surprised — to see Metz go. “This happens. If you’re a good law firm, you’re going to attract talent and you’re going to have important clients, and then the market’s going to work,” Manning said. “In a way it’s flattering for the firm, although I’m not feeling real flattered right now.” As a Verizon vice president, Metz will move out of a strictly legal realm to be responsible for legislative matters, contacts with state and federal regulatory agencies and community relations. Her practice with Klett Rooney was in telecommunications regulation, health law and immigration and nationality law. Metz leaves behind a firm with about 20 lawyers to join a corporation that is among the state’s 25 largest with 1,500 employees. For Verizon, Metz’s job represents a corporate realignment that is occurring after the departure of Thomas J. Garrett, a company executive who left in September after 28 years. He accepted an appointment from Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to become the chief information officer for the new Department of Technology and Information and Office of Information Services. At Verizon he was the director of Government, Education and Philanthropy Affairs. Metz will report directly to Joshua W. Martin III, the Verizon Delaware president who is a former Superior Court judge and past Delaware State Bar Association president. The two have worked together before — and not just as client and outside counsel. When Martin was the bar association’s president for the 1997-1998 term, Metz was a member of the executive committee, and since Martin was a corporate officer and not a working attorney, he relied on her for that perspective. “She’s going to be a welcome addition. She understands our business, understands our technology,” Martin said. Going to Verizon was not an easy decision for Metz. “I certainly wasn’t looking to move from the firm. It was one of those things. I’ve worked with Josh and really everyone over there for the past eight years. It’s like I’m going to work with my other friends now,” she said. “I thought I would regret looking back and not trying something new.” It is quite new, because Metz has spent her entire legal career in one place — more or less. After graduation from Kings College and Villanova University School of Law, she joined Duane Morris & Hecksher and rose to partner. She was part of the mass exodus from the Wilmington office of Duane Morris in 2000, when all but one of the 20 lawyers there followed the lead of the two founding Delaware partners and decamped for new local practices. One contingent, Metz among them, accompanied Manning to Pittsburgh-based Klett Rooney, and another segment went with David S. Swayze to Reed Smith, also headquartered in Pittsburgh. Now comes Metz’s exodus of one. It signals a new level of involvement for her in Delaware affairs and recognition from those who have preceded her, like Manning and Martin. Metz also has won the attention of Gov. Minner, who recently gave Metz the 2001 Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award for her charitable work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Delaware. Manning said he could relate to what Metz is experiencing. He remembered more than 20 years back when he decided to leave Richards Layton & Finger, informing a senior partner by the name of E. Norman Veasey that he was becoming counsel to Gov. Pierre S. du Pont. (What goes around, comes around — Veasey, of course, became the Delaware chief justice and du Pont a partner at Richards Layton.) What Manning did not mention is what happened afterward. He went on to be a leading Delaware lawyer, president of the Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Board of Education and an adviser to a number of Republicans, serving for example as a member of the “kitchen cabinet” for U.S. Sen. William V. Roth Jr. Now it is Metz’s turn. “Verizon is one of the great jobs in the state. If you get the opportunity, you have to take it,” Manning said. Manning and Metz will not be severing ties entirely. He will continue to be outside counsel to Verizon, and if Metz ever decides to practice law again, Manning said, who knows?

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