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Leonard Leiman, at 82; led securities law firm

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

He died Thursday at his home in Manhattan after a brief illness, his son, Alan, said Friday.

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Mr. Leiman was, until his death, of counsel in the New York office of London-based Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, the successor to the firm he joined in 1956. His last financial-services client was Siebert Financial Corp., the firm founded by Muriel Siebert, the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. She died in August.

The 1988 merger of Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski with Reavis & McGrath created the seventh-largest firm in the United States, with more than 575 lawyers, according to an article in the New York Times. The Times said it was the biggest law-firm merger at the time; the Wall Street Journal called it ‘‘among’’ the largest.

Mr. Leiman took part in the first exploratory meeting of leaders of the two firms late in 1987, according to Steven Pfeiffer, who last year finished a 10-year term as chairman of Fulbright & Jaworski’s executive committee.

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

Fulbright & Jaworski, the larger partner, with 475 lawyers, sought the merger to take advantage of Reavis & McGrath’s presence in New York and Los Angeles. Mr. Leiman was among the best- known lawyers at Reavis & McGrath, along with Frederick R. Adler, who headed its venture-capital practice.

Reavis & McGrath had suffered along with the rest of the finance industry following the Black Monday stock market crash of October 1987. Still, Mr. Leiman insisted to the Times that the firm didn’t agree to merge out of weakness. ‘‘It was not done out of economic necessity,’’ he was quoted as saying. ‘‘We are enjoying a good year.’’

The combined firm carried the name of Fulbright & Jaworski, which had been founded in 1919 by Houston lawyers Clarence Fulbright and John Crooker and renamed in 1974 to highlight the role of Leon Jaworski, who had gained fame as the second special prosecutor in the investigation of the Watergate scandal that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon.

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