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Atlanta’s King & Spalding has lost three attorneys to Emory University in recent months. Two senior associates left the firm to join the general counsel’s office and one partner has been named the vice president for alumni affairs and special development projects. Former associates Kimberly S. Piar and Stephen D. Sencer now work for Emory general counsel Kent B. Alexander, a former K&S partner and U.S. attorney in Atlanta. Robert G. Pennington, a partner in King & Spalding’s real estate practice group, will start as vice president for alumni affairs and special development on Jan. 16. Piar, who was a fifth-year associate in K&S’s tax group, says she now primarily does tax litigation for the Emory general counsel’s office. “I had a wonderful experience at King & Spalding and I left because it was a unique opportunity to do the tax kind of things I like to do along with the litigation things that I like to do,” Piar says, adding that she found an academic environment appealing. Sencer, who started at Emory on January 8, had been in King & Spalding’s special matters and government investigations group for two and a half years. He worked at Williams & Connolly in Washington, and the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office before his tenure at K&S. He’ll be doing litigation work for Emory and says “there are a ton of fascinating legal issues” at a university. A desire to spend more time with his family was part of what prompted his move from King & Spalding, Sencer says. He also says he grew up on Clifton Road and feels an affinity towards Emory. Neither Sencer nor Piar would comment on their new salaries or whether they took a pay cut to come to Emory. “The potential financial gain is different than it would be at King & Spalding,” says Piar. But, she adds, “I’m not starving.” Alexander, who recruited both Piar and Sencer, says his former K&S partners congratulated him on the hires. “The two of them were rising stars, so I’m pleased they’re at Emory,” Alexander says. Alexander left K&S for Emory last January after his predecesor Joseph W. Crooks’ death. Legal work in academia, says Alexander, is attractive to lawyers at large firms because it is “interesting and varied.” Also, he says, “Working here liberates one from living life in six-minute increments.” Alexander says he intends to grow the Emory general counsel’s office even more. Carol E. McMahon also joined the 12-attorney Emory team late last year, says Alexander. McMahon, who formerly worked for New England Medical Center Hospitals in Boston, does intellectual property and licensing work for the university. In addition, Alexander says he has raised attorneys Joan C. Grafstein and Kristin H. West to senior associate general counsel. And Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough healthcare partner Jane E. Jordan will start at Emory on Feb. 19, Alexander says. “I had done work for Emory over the years and it’s a fabulous opportunity,” Jordan says. “I’ve known Kent and have worked for the healthcare lawyers who are there, and this opportunity is one that doesn’t come along very often.” A four-time Emory alumnus, Pennington has been a King & Spalding partner since 1989. He received an associate’s degree from Emory’s Oxford College in 1974 and graduated from Emory College in 1976. In 1981, he received an MBA from Emory’s Business School and a law degree from the Emory University School of Law. Pennington will oversee the alumni office, Emory’s parent program, the university’s annual fund and the career network service. He replaces Jack Gilbert, associate vice president for planned giving and leadership development, who will retire in May after 21 years at Emory. After Gilbert retires, Pennington will oversee planned giving at the university. Pennington did not return three telephone calls. William H. Fox, senior vice president for institutional advancement at Emory, says he was unaware of Alexander’s new hires. But he says he personally sought Pennington for the alumni position. “King & Spalding didn’t have anything to do with my going after Bob Pennington,” Fox says. “He is the best person in the nation to lead the affairs of our alums. Of course it’s a plus that he worked at an outstanding law firm. … But the two are not related.” Walter W. Driver Jr., King & Spalding’s managing partner, says his firm is unaffected by the three departures. “In the scheme of a 650-lawyer organization,” he says, “everyone has their own individual circumstances.” Driver notes that Emory is a “valued client” of the firm and it’s not surprising for a K&S lawyer to leave the firm for a client. He also adds that K&S counsel Constance F. Dotzenrod, left for Emory in 1997 and returned to the firm a year later. Julia D. Gray’s e-mail address is [email protected].

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