Kathleen Brown's colorful resume includes stints as California state treasurer, chair of investment banking in the Midwest at Goldman Sachs and board member at Countrywide Financial. Now Brown is trying on a new role as a partner at law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Brown will be based in Manatt's Los Angeles office, the company said in a press release last week. Her practice will focus on business counseling, government and regulatory affairs, particularly as they relate to the healthcare, energy and financial services industries.

"[Brown] has a distinctive and unique background," Manatt Chief Executive William Quicksilver said in the release. "Her leadership for one of the world's largest financial services firms and the country's largest state gives her a deep understanding of business and government and the interplay of the two with the healthcare, energy and banking sectors-all areas where Manatt excels."

Brown retired from Goldman Sachs (GS) in June after 12 years in senior management roles. She also served in senior positions at Bank of America (BAC) from 1995 to 2001. Before that, she was California state treasurer from 1991 to 1995.

The sister of California Gov. Jerry Brown, Brown served on the board of ill-fated mortgage giant Countrywide for two years. She stepped down in March 2007 as Countrywide's subprime loans began to sour, amidst vigorous criticisms of the board's governance. Two other board members — Michael Dougherty, chairman of the Dougherty Financial Group, and Henry Cisneros, a former Housing and Urban Development secretary — also resigned that year.

A New York Times article in November 2007 noted that Corporate Library, an independent research firm that grades corporate governance, gave Countrywide's board an "F."

"'We would give them a lower grade if we had one,'" Corporate Library editor Nell Minow told the Times. "'They overpay their chief executive. They have the strongest possible antitakeover defenses and they don't seem to know how to manage risk.'"

Brown was among the defendants named in several class actions brought on behalf of Countrywide shareholders. Countrywide, bought by Bank of American in 2008, agreed to pay $600 million to settle the lawsuits in 2010. Brown and the other executives and directors named in the lawsuits were not required to help fund the payments to shareholders. They denied any wrongdoing.

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