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New Home Depot CEO Robert L. Nardelli has plucked his former personal lawyer to head the corporation’s legal department. Frank L. Fernandez will join Home Depot on April 2 as executive vice president, secretary and general counsel. Fernandez, who is 50, will oversee all legal and corporate secretary functions for the Vinings, Ga.-based company. Fernandez secured the job through his affiliation with Nardelli, who left the helm of General Electric Co.’s Schenectady, N.Y., Power Systems Division in December to become president and chief executive officer at Home Depot. “Basically, I worked with Bob as a counsel for about five years,” Fernandez told the Albany Times-Union. “I served in some instances as his personal counsel and sometimes as an outside counsel to GE, mainly dealing with mergers and acquisitions.” Fernandez will have to relinquish his post as secretary of the Equine Sports Center, home of the Saratoga Springs harness race track, according to the Times-Union. However, he will retain his financial interest in the track and will remain on the track’s board of directors. Fernandez holds about one-third of the voting shares and owns 6 percent of the track, the Times-Union reported. Laurence B. Appel, senior VP-legal and currently Home Depot’s top in-house attorney, says he will report to Fernandez. Appel, who has been with Home Depot for three years, says he’ll still run the company’s legal department. He formerly reported directly to M. Faye Wilson, senior vice president for value initiatives and a board member. Fernandez has been the managing partner of Fernandez, Burstein, Tuczinski & Collura in Albany since 1986. He practices in the areas of taxation, corporate mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, SEC matters, and real estate development. He graduated from Albany Law School and also is a certified public accountant. He formerly practiced with Haskins & Sells (now Deloitte & Touche) in New York. Fernandez did not return phone calls about this story. HEALTH-CARE PRACTICE GROWS With the addition of three attorneys, Smith Helms Mulliss & Moore has established a health-care practice in Atlanta. Gambrell & Stolz health-care partner Tobin N. Watt joined Smith Helms as an equity partner this week. Next Monday, Gambrell & Stolz health-care associate Rebecca D. Goodloe will join the firm. Barry S. Herrin, a nonequity partner in Smith Helms’ health-care group, joined the firm in November. Herrin formerly was an associate at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. Herrin says he’s bringing Promina Health System and “several major hospital clients” with him to Smith Helms. He says Smith Helms also plans to grow the Atlanta health-care group by seven or eight attorneys within the next 12 months. According to Smith Helms health-care practice leader Robert L. Wilson Jr., there are 14 attorneys in the health-care practice group firmwide. Wilson says the health-care practice should grow along with the health-care industry in the Southeast, pointing out that the three attorneys were needed to meet increased growth in Georgia. Smith Helms has more than 210 attorneys in five offices in North Carolina and Atlanta. With the three new attorneys, there are now 12 in the firm’s Atlanta office. Briefly … Attorney General John Ashcroft has appointed former King & Spalding partner Paul D. Clement, 34, as Principal Deputy Solicitor General. The solicitor general’s office supervises and conducts government litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court. Clement, who joined King & Spalding’s Washington office in 1999, was head of the firm’s appellate practice. He also served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Antonin Scalia during the Supreme Court’s 1993 term.

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