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Morgan Stanley’s Grossman Succeeds Barron in Top Legal Role

Morgan Stanley’s chief legal officer, Frank Barron, is leaving this year and will be succeeded by Eric Grossman, who was most recently global head of legal.

“To ensure a seamless transition, I have asked Frank to remain ‘of counsel’ to the firm through mid-year,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James Gorman said today in an internal memo to employees. “Frank will step down from the Operating Committee but remain on the Management Committee until his departure.” Mark Lake, a spokesman for New York-based Morgan Stanley, confirmed the memo’s contents.

Morgan Stanley, the sixth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, hired Barron, 60, in July 2010 after Gary Lynch, then the firm’s chief legal officer, said he planned to leave. Grossman, 44, had been a candidate for Lynch’s job before Barron, a litigation partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, joined the bank, a person briefed on the matter said last year. Grossman joined Morgan Stanley in 2006 and is a former partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Michael Stein, the Washington-based global head of government relations, will report to Chief Operating Officer Jim Rosenthal instead of to Barron, according to the memo. Rosenthal’s responsibilities include corporate communications and community affairs, Gorman said in the memo.

Grossman worked in Davis Polk & Wardwell’s litigation department, where he helped defend financial institutions accused of violating securities laws, said Lynch, now Bank of America Corp.’s head of legal, compliance and regulatory relation. The two worked together at the law firm before Lynch became Morgan Stanley’s chief legal officer, later hiring Grossman.

Darryl Strawberry’s Agent

At Morgan Stanley, Grossman and Lynch worked together on Morgan Stanley’s lawsuit over its separation agreement with Discover Financial Services, which the bank spun off in 2007. They also defended the lender in an almost $1.6 billion lawsuit by financier Ron Perelman over the sale of Coleman Co. to one of the firm’s clients, Lynch said in a phone interview.

Grossman also moonlighted as an agent for former Major League Baseball player Darryl Strawberry shortly after he joined Davis Polk & Wardwell in 1994, according to Robert Fiske, a partner at the firm.

“He has a very good ability to take a very difficult complex situation and analyze it and figure out what are the important issues that will come out of that,” Fiske said in a phone interview.

Morgan Stanley is a client of Davis Polk & Wardwell, Fiske said.

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