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Atlanta-based Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy’s entire international trade practice has defected to Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. The departures include 33 attorneys, 16 of them partners. The lawyers, who represent the bulk of Powell Goldstein’s international trade, World Trade Organization and customs group, will start at Sidley Austin May 6. The move gives Sidley Austin a new practice group and a three-lawyer office in Geneva, home of the WTO. But the departures mean Powell Goldstein will lose about 25 percent of its 125 attorneys in Washington, D.C. They will take more than 10 legislative assistants, paralegals and secretaries to Sidley Austin. Armin G. Brecher, Powell Goldstein’s managing partner, said the firm will continue to do work for large, multinational companies. Brecher discounted the departures, explaining that the international trade and customs group was somewhat self-contained, Brecher added. ‘GLOBAL NATURE’ Daniel M. Price, who headed Powell Goldstein’s international trade, WTO and customs practice, is one of 10 who will join Sidley Austin as a partner and will head its international trade group. Seven of the 33 lawyers will join as counsel, 16 as associates. “It was really a logical fit for us,” Price said. With about 1,400 lawyers, Sidley Austin is one of the five largest law firms in the United States. Sidley Austin’s Washington office has about 210 lawyers. Powell Goldstein now has about 90 attorneys in Washington and 170 attorneys in Atlanta. Sidley Austin also has offices in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. “Our practice is global in nature,” said Price. “We needed to be with a larger firm with offices around the world.” The group was particularly drawn to Sidley Austin’s New York and London offices, Price added. Sidley Austin was formed in May 2001 when 900-lawyer Chicago-based Sidley & Austin and New York’s 400-lawyer Brown & Wood merged. Last year, Sidley’s revenue was more than $700 million, said executive committee Chairman Thomas A. Cole. That revenue would have placed the firm third on the Am Law 100 for 2001. The firm has reported profits per equity partner of $730,000. Powell Goldstein’s revenue was about $123 million last year. Its profits per equity partner were $388,393. In 2000, Sidley & Austin’s gross revenue was $473 million. Brown & Wood’s was $193 million. Sidley’s profits per equity partner were $680,000; Brown & Wood’s were $675,000. Powell Goldstein’s 2000 revenue was $111.5 million. Its profits per equity partner were $370,370. CLIENT NEED Thomas A. Cole, chairman of Sidley Austin’s executive committee, said the firm once had an international trade group with a “handful” of lawyers, but the leader of the group joined a client in the mid- to late ’90s. Cole said the firm’s clients needed the services of the international trade, WTO and customs practice. Also, Cole said, the firm felt it needed to be in the international trade market. Reached Wednesday at Powell Goldstein’s Geneva office, partner Todd J. Friedbacher said his group’s client list and Sidley Austin’s own client roster were “a little bit more complementary.” Friedbacher and two other Powell Goldstein lawyers in Geneva will join Sidley Austin on May 6 with the rest of Price’s group. To the WTO, Friedbacher added, American law firms are largely “nameless and faceless.” The organization has heard of the largest firms only, so the name recognition factor wasn’t really a consideration for the three Geneva lawyers as much as Sidley Austin’s size, client list and geographic reach. Sidley Austin’s largest clients include AT&T Corp., Merrill Lynch & Co., General Electric Co., BankOne and Baxter International Inc. The international trade group’s client base includes Nike Inc., Vivendi Universal, The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Monsanto Co., Unilever, Genentech Inc. and the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America. GOVERNMENT DISPUTES The 33 attorneys have handled more than 170 cases before the WTO, which presides over various trade disputes between countries. Friedbacher said the firm often represents commercial interests behind the government disputes. Lawyers litigate before the WTO, Friedbacher added, and help governments and private interests negotiate new trade rules. The 33-lawyer team does trade regulation and policy work for governments, commercial interests and trade associations on such issues as anti-dumping, countervailing duty, customs proceedings and international arbitration, market access issues, export controls and economic sanctions. Sidley Austin has represented Colombia, China, Japan, Brazil, Russia and Vietnam. Also included in the group are international intellectual property lawyers. Price, who served as principal deputy general counsel in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative during the senior George Bush administration, joined Powell Goldstein in 1992. Jonathan M. Fee, a customs and international trade lawyer with Alston & Bird in Washington, said the moves surprised him. “I think it’s a smart move because they’ll have now access to a larger client base,” Fee said. “I don’t wish Powell Goldstein ill, but I think it’s probably a very good move.” Fee added that he heard Powell Goldstein’s Washington trade and customs practice was very successful. Richard M. Belanger, a Powell Goldstein partner who will join Sidley Aistom, is one of the most highly regarded lawyers in the customs and trade arena, Fee noted.

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