When Republican leaders in the House wanted to craft a compromise that could resurrect the financial modernization bill, they called Stuart C. Stock.

The Covington & Burling law partner, whose clients include NationsBank Corp., BankBoston Corp., and Banc One Corp., helped forge a deal on state regulation of bank insurance underwriting that could clear the way for a reform bill to pass the House this year.

"He is the banking industry's main choice for crafting legislative language on insurance issues," said one Banking Committee staffer. "He does a great job."

Although he tried to influence lawmakers, Mr. Stock said he is not a lobbyist. "To the extent we have people who listen to us on the Hill, I hope it is because we give them completely accurate legal advice about our clients," he said.

Harvard-trained, Mr. Stock gained fame putting together bank deals. He represented North Carolina National Bank in its first merger, which gave what would become NationsBank a statewide presence. He also represented Bank of Boston in its acquisition of BayBanks and Banc One Corp. in its takeover of First U.S.A.

"He is the smartest, most responsive, and professional lawyer I know," said Paul J. Polking, general counsel at NationsBank Corp. "He is first class."

Mr. Stock was instrumental in the 1980s in breaking down the barriers to interstate branching, representing Bank of Boston in its bid to open branches in Connecticut and Rhode Island. The bank eventually won in the Supreme Court, the first case to uphold the constitutionality of the compacts among states to permit interstate branching.

More recently, he represented the Bankers Roundtable on interstate branching, helping to draft much of the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act, and he currently is fighting a restrictive branching law in Texas on NationsBank's behalf.

Mr. Stock also was one of the first lawyers to exploit the 30-mile rule, filing a 1993 application with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to combine NationsBank's Washington, D.C., and Maryland banks.

Mr. Stock began his legal career as a law clerk, working first for federal appellate Judge Henry J. Friendly before serving for a year as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall's clerk. He joined Covington & Burling in 1974, becoming a partner four years later.

He's married to Ann Stock, former social secretary at the Clinton White House and now vice president for institutional relations at the Kennedy Center. The Stocks spend much of their free time tracking their son's athletic endeavors. A former high school lacrosse and wrestling star, he now is a defenseman on Duke's lacrosse team.

An avid whitewater rafter, Mr. Stock has conquered the Colorado River, the Kern River in California, and the Salmon River in Idaho.

Mr. Stock said he expects the frenzy of cross-industry mergers to continue as banks and securities firms join forces to offer one-stop shopping. He is optimistic that Congress eventually will pass financial modernization.

"The markets are changing so fast that reform is inevitable," he said. "The financial sector is converging. Legislation will either facilitate it or ratify it."

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