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ChevronTexaco Corp. appointed the U.S. government’s assistant attorney general for antitrust matters as its new general counsel Thursday. Charles James will head up the energy giant’s 200-plus attorney legal department beginning in early December, succeeding Harvey Hinman, whose retirement was announced in May. The move marks the first time in at least three generations that the position of Chevron general counsel has gone to an attorney whose resume does not list San Francisco-based Pillsbury Winthrop, Chevron’s longtime law firm. As general counsel and vice president for ChevronTexaco, James will sit on the company’s six-member executive committee, in addition to being its chief legal counsel and directing its worldwide legal function. “We are delighted to attract a professional of Charles James’ stature, intellect and experience to ChevronTexaco,” said Chairman and CEO David O’Reilly in a statement. “With his broad experience in government and legal practice, he brings great depth and dimension to our senior leadership team.” James, 48, is a veteran of the D.C. legal scene, in both the public and private sector. He served as deputy assistant attorney general and acting assistant attorney general in the first Bush administration. During his most recent stint in the public sector, which lasted just over a year, James led the settlement of the government’s antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. In private practice, James was a partner at Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, where he worked off and on starting in 1985 and chaired the firm’s worldwide antitrust and trade regulation practice. James’ move to ChevronTexaco marks a departure from the company’s tradition of selecting its top lawyer from the ranks of Pillsbury Winthrop, its main outside counsel. Hinman, who has been the top lawyer at ChevronTexaco since 1993, was a 20-year partner at what was then Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro. His predecessor, Charles Renfrew, also came from Pillsbury, as did Renfrew’s predecessor, William Mussman. Pillsbury attorneys played down the significance of the break from the trend. “Part of their tradition is to have the spot go to people with distinguished government service,” said Pillsbury partner Robert Mittelstaedt. “Renfrew had been one of the top people in the Carter administration, and I think Charles follows that tradition, as well as being an excellent lawyer.” Attorneys at Pillsbury said the firm does not anticipate any change in its relationship with ChevronTexaco. “I think that Mr. James will be looking for the best legal talent available, and we’re confident that if that’s the test he applies, we’ll continue to be the company’s principal outside counsel,” said Pillsbury partner Jerry Ross. Pillsbury has strong and time-tested ties with Chevron. The firm incorporated the company, then known as Standard Oil, at the beginning of the 20th century and rep-resented it in its $43 billion merger with Texaco in 2001. Among James’ responsibilities at ChevronTexaco will be overseeing the myriad legal issues for a company that’s grown increasingly international. As a result of the merger with Texaco, the company has operations in 180 countries. While James currently lives on the East Coast, he is expected to move west to work out of the company’s San Francisco Bay Area headquarters.

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