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In 1999, in Chicago, BellSouth Corp.’s Marc Gary was still at Mayer, Brown & Platt (now Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw) when he deposed — the right word may be “grilled” — a plaintiffs’ expert witness. Gary was representing a Canadian potash manufacturer accused of conspiring to fix prices. The plaintiffs, a class of potash consumers, had hired a big-shot economist to help prove their case. But over a grueling three-day period, Gary dismantled the economist’s complicated theory. Then he made the deposition transcript Exhibit A to his court filings. It paid off. First, the district court granted summary judgment for Gary’s client. Then a federal appellate en banc panel affirmed the ruling, noting that Gary had proven the expert’s testimony “fundamentally unreliable.” The deposition was tailor-made for Gary, now an associate general counsel at BellSouth in Atlanta (and a member of Corporate Counsel‘s advisory board.) “Not every lawyer — not even every good lawyer — could have done what Marc did,” recalls Richard Favretto, the lead Mayer Brown attorney on the case. “To pull that off, you’ve really got to be brilliant, disciplined, analytical, doggedly hardworking; and, technically speaking, you’ve got to be almost perfect. Marc Gary is all of those things.” Favretto isn’t the only one to hang the “perfect lawyer” tag on Gary, now 50. It was this sterling reputation that in early 2000 prompted Charles Morgan, BellSouth’s general counsel, to invite Gary to Atlanta to oversee the company’s litigation. Although Morgan himself had jumped to BellSouth from Mayer Brown’s Chicago office, he had never worked with Gary. But the GC wasn’t bothered by that — or even by the fact that Gary, a specialist in accountant malpractice defense, hardly knew a whit about telecommunications. “High-caliber people were saying he was the best attorney they’d ever used,” Morgan recalls. “So I wanted him.” Since his move, Gary has spent much of his time on Telecommunications Act litigation, employee discrimination cases, and internal compliance issues. He has continued to impress. “He’s quickly become one of my favorites,” says Stephen Axinn of New York’s Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider, who has represented BellSouth in antitrust matters. What’s next in store for Gary? Morgan is relatively new on the job. But BellSouth insiders say that F. Duane Ackerman, BellSouth’s chief executive and chairman, is winding down his tenure. If Ackerman’s successor wants to appoint his own legal chief — as new top executives often do — Gary might be next in line. Of course, Gary might not see that day. “Before long, [another in-house department] will probably want to pick Marc off,” says Axinn. “And whoever gets him is going to be very lucky.”

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