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Suddenly, life at law firms looks pretty good — even to an investment banker. Just ask Bruce Alan Mann, who in January left his banking job to return full time to a partnership at Morrison & Foerster. The 68-year-old had spent the last three years at WR Hambrecht + Co. as an investment banker. But the erratic stock market and dismal economy made the work a lot less attractive than it had been during the Internet boom. “The opportunities to do interesting transactions as a banker had diminished, at least for the short term,” Mann said, adding that he decided he “could be more effective as a lawyer.” Officially, Mann never left MoFo during his stint at WR Hambrecht. He simply took of counsel status while he tried to sell the bank’s initial public offering strategy to investors and regulators. “I was disappointed that thus far Hambrecht has not managed to be the success I had hoped it would be,” Mann said, “but market conditions override even the best of ideas.” If Mann needed a hiatus from lawyering, he can hardly be blamed. His career almost spans the life of the technology industry itself. Mann helped incorporate Intel Corp. in 1968 while he was a partner at what was then Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro. Mann, who joined Pillsbury in 1960, spent 23 years at the firm. And by the end of his tenure, he said he was feeling bored. He took a sabbatical to teach at Georgetown University Law Center and then was a consultant to the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 1983 he left the law for a job with a client, LF Rothschild, Unterberg, Towbin Holdings Inc., a New York investment bank that has since been swallowed by larger banks. Homesick for San Francisco and missing the law, he joined Morrison & Foerster in 1987 as a partner. But 11 years later, the banking bug bit again. William Hambrecht, a longtime client from Mann’s Pillsbury days, had an idea for a way to auction IPO stock over the Internet. Hambrecht had formed WR Hambrecht after selling investment banking powerhouse Hambrecht & Quist Group Inc. to The Chase Manhattan Corp. Intrigued by the stock auction idea, Mann joined Hambrecht as a senior managing director. Mann said he could have stuck it out at the bank but he was antsy to keep working, and he wasn’t looking to make a lifetime commitment. There was no way he was going to retire. “The idea of getting up in the morning with nothing to do … doesn’t appeal to me,” Mann said. “I’ll never retire.” He said he is ready to get back to representing clients and isn’t worried about that pesky boredom that drove him into his first foray into investment banking. “I had spent basically three years doing something totally different, and I was ready to take a fresh approach to the practice of law,” Mann said. Besides, if he does tire of the law, he could always go back to banking.

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