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Leonard Leiman, lawyer at center of key firm merger, dies

Leonard Leiman, who led the securities law practice at Manhattan-based Reavis & McGrath when it merged in 1988 with Fulbright & Jaworski in what was then among the largest such marriages in history, has died. He was 82.

He died Thursday at his home in Manhattan, his son, Alan Leiman, said in an interview.

Leiman was, until his death, of counsel in the Manhattan office of London-based Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, the successor to the firm he joined in 1956.

The 1988 merger of Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski with Reavis & McGrath created the seventh-largest firm in the U.S., with more than 575 lawyers, according to The New York Times. Leiman took part in the first meeting of leaders of the firms late in 1987, according to Steven Pfeiffer, who last year finished a term as chairman of Fulbright & Jaworski's executive committee.

"If they hadn't hit it off at the very beginning and had a shared vision," the merger "wouldn't have gone anywhere," Pfeiffer said.

The merger, which took effect on the first day of 1989, was part of a wave of consolidations driven by mid-size firms, with 100 to 200 lawyers, that needed to compete with bigger partnerships offering more service at lower prices, the Times said.

Leiman was born on July 2, 1931, in Maspeth, Queens. He graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1951 and Harvard University Law School in 1954, serving as an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

He worked as a law clerk for Judge Learned Hand of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Justice John Marshall Harlan of the U.S. Supreme Court. From 1964 to 1966 he worked in Washington as executive assistant to Manuel Cohen, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under President Lyndon Johnson.

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