Municipal underwriters and bond attorneys that unseated long-standing champions during the first quarter were able to retain their nascent, topranked status throughout the first half of 1993.

Merrill Lynch & Co. was the highest-ranked underwriter of longterm debt for the first two quarters, serving as senior manager of 212 issues totaling $18.54 billion, according to Securities Data Co.

The firm beat out Goldman, Sachs & Co., which had been the premier senior manager since the end of 1990 until toppled by Merrill in the first quarter of 1993. Lehman Brothers rounded out the top three municipal underwriting firms for the first half.

Goldman Sachs served as senior manager of 172 issues totaling $16.39 billion in the first six months, while Lehman worked on 240 transactions totaling $11.80 billion.

Among bond attorneys, Mudge Rose Guthrie Alexander & Ferdon retained the top spot that it wrested from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in the first quarter. Orrick Herrington, which finished second in the first half, had been the No. 1 bond counsel since 1989. The New York-based law firm of Hawkins, Delafield & Wood placed third among bond counsel.

As the leading bond counsel, Mudge Rose worked on 67 issues totaling $9.85 billion. This included the third largest financing of the period, the New York State Dormitory Authority's $1.01 billion issue sold in May.

Orrick worked on 148 issues totaling $9.36 billion, while Hawkins Delafield participated in 137 deals totaling $8.75 billion.

Public Resources Advisory Group maintained its standing as the top financial adviser, working on 71 issues totaling $9.36 billion. The firm served as adviser on the second largest bond offering during the period, $1.08 billion San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor, Calif., senior and junior lien revenue and refunding revenue bonds.

The firm also served as the financial adviser to California for its $3 billion revenue anticipation note offering in April, the largest note sale during the first half. Work on the California offering also helped secure Public Resources' place as the top adviser for municipal note financings during the period.

Public Financial Management worked on $8.56 billion of long-term issues to place second among the financial advisers. Lazard Freres & Co.'s counsel on $5.21 billion of issues gained it third place.

Merrill's high standing in the underwriter rankings was fostered by its work as the top senior manager of general obligation, competitive, and refunding bond offerings during the first half of the year.

During the period, long-term municipal volume -- which Securities Data classifies as issues maturing in 13 months or longer -- totaled $145.37 billion. Shoft-term issuance added $23.4 billion.

Municipal sources said volume should remain high during the second half if inflation remains low.

"We have seen an amazing number of issues priced during the first half of the year," said the head of a municipal underwriting department based in New York. "All of the economic indicators point for this to continue."

In the short-term sector. Lehman Brothers easily outdistanced its nearest competitor, Goldman Sachs, to regain the premier ranking. Lehman, which had slipped into second place in the first quarter, was senior manager of 24 issues totaling $6.46 billion.

Bear, Steams & Co., which dethroned Lehman in the first quarter, stumbled four notches to rank fifth in the current period.

The number two firm, Goldman, was lead manager of 11 short-term offerings, worth $2.32 billion.

Helping Lehman to resume its reign in the short-term market was its work on California's $3 billion note sale.

However, when full credit is given to each manager, Lehman slipped to third. Goldman gained top honors, serving as co-manager of 17 offerings totaling $8.4 billion. Artemis Capital Group Inc. ranked second, having worked on $8.2 billion of note deals.

California was the largest issuer of short-term debt in the first half, selling approximately $5 billion of securities.

Orrick Herrington ranked first among bond counsel for short-term offerings in the first half, working on more than $8.4 billion of debt offerings. Orrick was followed by two other California firms, O'Melveny & Myers and Leslie M. Lava. Mudge Rose placed fifth in the short-term sector.

Securities Data's note rankings are based on issues maturing in 12 months or less. As compiled by The Bond Buyer, long- and short-term rankings do not include private placements, remarketings, and taxable debt issued by private nonprofit organizations.

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