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With plans to spend most of his time in Washington, D.C., and colleague Fred Blume already handling the daily management of the firm, David Girard-diCarlo has decided to relinquish his duties as managing partner and chief executive officer of Philadelphia-based Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley to focus on his role as the firm’s sole chairman. Girard-diCarlo had been managing partner and chief executive officer since 1987 while Blume was chief operating officer. The two men have also been Blank Rome’s co-chairmen for the past three years. The new titles confirm what was already in place — Girard-diCarlo focuses on strategic matters while Blume handles the daily management of the firm. “I think the best use of my time [for Blank Rome] is to take advantage of all the relationships I’ve built up over the past 25 to 30 years,” Girard-diCarlo said. “If I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t be faithful to the firm, which has supported me as I’ve engaged in all these [politically related] activities over the years.” Though he estimated he already spends half his time in Washington, Girard-diCarlo said he now plans to be there at least 80 percent of the time. He said he plans to sell his Villanova home, buy an apartment in Philadelphia’s Center City district and move into a larger apartment in Washington. As chairman, Girard-diCarlo will dedicate much of his time to devising and implementing Blank Rome’s strategic plan, which he said envisions substantial growth in New York, Washington and Wilmington. With more critical mass on those three locales, he said the firm could then turn to the Midwest, California and Europe for more expansion. The New York office already has 80 lawyers because of the January 2000 merger with Tenzer Greenblatt, and the bankruptcy-heavy Wilmington office is one of the more formidable in that city — though Girard-diCarlo said both could stand some additional depth, skill and practice diversity. But Girard-diCarlo really wants to build up the Washington office, which has more than 25 lawyers focusing mainly on intellectual property, government relations and international trade matters. IP is by far the largest D.C. practice area for Blank Rome, with seven partners and eight associates including firmwide IP Chairman Victor Wigman. Girard-diCarlo said he would like to see the office add more corporate, litigation, transportation and energy capabilities. Girard-diCarlo said every major Washington firm has started in one of two ways: someone leaves a significant government position and brings aboard clients or someone moves there while friends are in power. Girard-diCarlo fits the latter definition, with friends that include President Bush — who recently appointed him to the Kennedy Center board of directors — and homeland security adviser and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. Girard-diCarlo has been a major fundraiser for both men as well as several other key Republicans, and he said Bush’s election in 2000 only hastened what was already a move in the works. “I have friends on both sides of the aisle,” Girard-diCarlo said. “I might not have done it as quickly [had Bush not been elected], but it was just a matter of time.” While a firmwide chairman can work out of any office, Girard-diCarlo said its important that Blank Rome’s managing partner be located in Philadelphia because it is still by far the firm’s largest office as well as the location of the firm’s entire non-lawyer administrative apparatus. Though he has not held the title, Blume has carried out the duties of managing partner for quite some time. In addition to running the daily operations of the firm, Blume will also be responsible for serving as chairman of the partner board and executive committee. Girard-diCarlo will still chair the distribution committee. Blume, who has been with the firm since 1967, concentrates his practice in the general corporate area, representing companies engaged in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. He said there will be only minor changes to his duties. “In the past, David made the ultimate decisions,” Blume said. “And he’ll still make some, but I think I will make more of them concerning the daily operations of the firm.” In addition to changes for its top two managers, Blank Rome also announced that Barry Genkin, formerly chairman of the firm’s business and corporate department, will become the third officer of the firm — serving as finance partner. That appointment stems from Blank Rome’s decision to alter its management structure late last year in an effort to streamline decision-making. The firm eliminated its management committee and replaced it with a smaller seven-member executive committee that serves as a board of directors. The firm also created a partner board, a group of 32 partners that votes on whether to admit laterals into its ranks. The partner board replaced the general partnership in that duty. And the firm also created the position of finance partner, a person who will be responsible for all aspects of the firm’s finances including its audit and budget activities. Genkin handles complex securities and corporate matters and capital formation transactions primarily for public companies and investment banking firms and was formerly head of the firm’s audit and budget committee. Prior to joining Blank Rome, he served as special counsel at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C.

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