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October 29, 2010 1:31 PM

Inside the BofA/Merrill Merger: Did Mayopolous's Salary Grumbles Cost Him GC Post?

Posted by Brian Baxter

This week Corporate Counsel, a sibling publication, managed to get its hands on an advance copy of a book due out next week called Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank America.

It's a grandiose title to be sure, but according to a story out Friday by Corporate Counsel's Shannon Green, the book has plenty to offer readers with a soft spot for boardroom machinations. Written by Greg Farrell, a U.S. business correspondent for the Financial Times, the book touches on the circumstances surrounding the firing of former BofA general counsel Tim Mayopoulos.

According to Corporate Counsel, Crash details the reaction of BofA's in-house lawyers in Charlotte upon learning they were paid far less than their colleagues in New York. In fact, Farrell tells Corporate Counsel, Mayopoulos was fired largely because he and others who worked for him constantly complained about their salaries.

Corporate Counsel recounts a scene from the book in which Mayopoulos is pulled from a legal department meeting with a longtime Merrill Lynch lawyer named Pete Kelly, whom the former GC is in the midst of setting straight about the new corporate hierarchy. The two have a heated exchange, ending with Kelly's surprise when Mayopoulos is essentially fired in front of him.

Mayopoulos, who spoke with CC last year about his firing, landed on his feet. He's now general counsel at Fannie Mae. (Edward O'Keefe was named BofA's new top in-house lawyer in mid-2009.)

BofA/Merrill Lynch may not like seeing such dirty laundry aired in public, but with the current storm over foreclosures, there are more pressing matters at hand. And the bank is calling in reinforcements: This week McGuireWoods chairman Richard Cullen, who served as Virginia's attorney general from 1997 to 1998, was hired by BofA to bolster its legal defense team representing the bank against accusations of improperly processing foreclosures.

Cullen joins O'Melveny & Myers partner Brian Boyle, a former principal deputy associate attorney general at the Justice Department from 2003 to 2005, to represent BofA in negotiations with 50 state attorneys general pursuing a joint foreclosure probe.

Both firms have previously represented BofA in various matters.

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