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Banks' In-House Specialty Lawyers More at Risk in SunTrust-BB&T Deal: Experts

Kristen Rasmussen LAW.COM

A $66 billion merger is a lot for any top attorney to handle. But Ellen Fitzsimmons is handling one just a year after she took the legal reins at SunTrust Banks Inc.

The Atlanta-based banking giant announced last week that Fitzsimmons, SunTrust’s general counsel and corporate executive vice president since January 2018, will serve on the executive management team of the combined BB&T Corp.-SunTrust organization.

“The business isn’t any smaller so you could argue that they still need all the lawyers, but they’re always going to try to get some synergies,” said Bob Graff, an Atlanta-based partner and recruiter at legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. “It probably won’t be a bloodbath, but I wouldn’t want to be the last one hired [at SunTrust].”

The positions that may be more vulnerable, Graff said, are those who practice in specialty areas such as, for example, tax law, intellectual property, privacy or employment law.

“People that aren’t directly supporting the business” may be more at risk, he said. “But the amount of loans, number of contracts and other such day-to-day business matters will stay the same, so general commercial lawyers are probably safer.”

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