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A longtime Pepper Hamilton partner has been named the first general counsel for BDP International Inc., a Philadelphia-based logistics and transportation services firm. L. Garrett Dutton Jr., 60, had spent his entire professional career at Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton, which he joined in 1965 after his graduation from the University of Michigan Law School. For the last several years, Dutton had been spending an increasing share of his time representing BDP, making this move a relatively seamless transition. In his new role, Dutton will use his expertise in corporate law and mergers and acquisitions to help BDP cope with the increasing complexity of its contractual relationships, particularly in its more than 100 overseas operations. He will remain of counsel at Pepper Hamilton, where he will retain an office and continue to advise a small number of clients. “I’ve been at Pepper for 35 years,” Dutton said. “I thought a change might be very interesting and challenging and healthy.” BDP President Richard C. Bolte Jr. said his company decided it needed in-house representation because of the increasing diversity of legal issues it faces. “The nature of our business has changed,” he said. “If you just look at it from a macro perspective, when I started, things were done on a handshake basis.” But today, business with large clients such as Raytheon, Union Carbide and Dow Chemical is conducted on a more formal contractual basis. BDP, which tallied nearly $1 billion in gross sales last year, has also expanded its international operations, entering new markets from China to Brazil over the last few years. The 34-year-old old-economy company is also moving onto the Internet through preferred supplier agreements with a number of online business-to-business exchanges. As BDP’s business grew, Bolte said, the decision was made to hire an in-house attorney. And Dutton, two-thirds of whose time was already devoted to BDP, was the natural choice. The move was hardly a surprise to Pepper Hamilton executive partner James Murray, whom Dutton first approached last summer about the possibility. “I had a pretty good awareness of the BDP relationship,” Murray said. “I knew that Gary’s involvement had been increasingly deep and that they had come to rely upon him increasingly.” Still, Murray said that he did not want Dutton’s relationship with the firm to come to an end. To that end, he said they agreed to an arrangement — known as the “Chicago model,” for its frequent use by Windy City law firms — to keep Dutton on staff in a reduced capacity. “It’s an interesting opportunity to explore our own ability to retain the talent and relationships that have built up over the years while someone pursues their own business relationships,” he said. For his part, Dutton will still work occasionally from his Pepper Hamilton office and will have constant contact with the firm’s attorneys, who will continue to represent his new employer. Doing so will also enable Dutton to work fewer and more flexible hours than he did as a law firm partner, coming in as needed, not on a 9-to-5 basis. Yet Murray is skeptical that Dutton will slow down at all in his new position. “He’s very vibrant and very healthy,” Murray said. “He’s not looking for a place to wander out to pasture.”

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