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NAVA Vice President and General Counsel Joins Sutherland

January 3, 2002

WASHINGTON (January 3, 2002) – Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is pleased to announce that W. Thomas Conner has joined the firm's Washington office effective January 1, 2002.  Mr. Conner formerly was Vice President and General Counsel of the National Association for Variable Annuities (NAVA).  He joins the firm's Corporate Group as a partner and will represent Sutherland's clients involved in the manufacture and distribution of variable insurance products, mutual funds, and other financial products.  Mr. Conner will focus on helping clients achieve their business goals as they navigate the federal and state regulatory requirements and regulatory processes applicable to insurance and financial products.

As NAVA's Vice President and General Counsel, Mr. Conner was responsible for NAVA's regulatory affairs program.  While overseeing this program, he represented the variable insurance product industry in a number of significant regulatory matters, appearing before regulatory agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission, NASD Regulation, Inc. and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.  Additionally, as NAVA's General Counsel Mr. Conner was responsible for ongoing association legal matters involving contractual, intellectual property, securities law, Web site and other cyberspace, antitrust and general corporate governance issues.  Mr. Conner was also actively involved in NAVA's public relations and research initiatives and the association's six annual conferences.

"Tom brings to Sutherland's corporate and securities practice an expertise in representing the interests of insurance companies, mutual funds, and other participants in the financial services industry engaged in manufacturing and distributing variable contracts and other investment products," stated Steve Roth, chair of Sutherland's corporate and financial services practice group in Washington.  "As NAVA's former General Counsel, Tom also brings to Sutherland a deep understanding and appreciation of the complex business environment in which today's financial services providers operate.  We believe this industry knowledge, combined with Tom's demonstrated navigational skills through the current regulatory landscape, will provide real value to Sutherland clients."

"As NAVA's Vice President and General Counsel," said Mark Mackey, NAVA's President and CEO, "Tom has made a valuable contribution to the industry by promoting a number of important regulatory initiatives, such as in the area of disclosure simplification, that has served to align the interests of industry participants, regulators, and consumers alike.  Tom takes to Sutherland an extensive knowledge of the variable contracts industry and understanding of the business issues that financial services providers deal with on a daily basis."

Mr. Conner received both his J.D., with honors, and his M.B.A in Finance and Investments, magna cum laude, from George Washington University.  He earned his B.S.B.A., summa cum laude, from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and Massachusetts Bars.  Mr. Conner has written and spoken extensively on the subject of variable contracts and other financial products and their distribution and regulation.

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is a national law firm known for solving challenging business problems and resolving unique legal issues for many of the nation's largest companies.  Founded in 1924, the firm has grown to more than 350 lawyers with offices in Atlanta, Austin, New York, Tallahassee and Washington.

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