MICHAEL B. CAHILL Executive vice president First Interstate Bank of Texas

After nearly 10 years of moving back and forth between administrative and legal positions within First Interstate Bancorp, Michael B. Cahill has come to a conclusion:

"If there's anything worse than being a banker right now, it's being a lawyer for a banker."

Mr. Cahill, the 39-year-old general counsel and executive vice president at First Interstate Bank of Texas is only half joking.

After a two-year stint in administration that saw him managing "just about everything at the [Texas] bank outside of the finance area," Mr. Cahill has stepped up to face an even more formidable task.

As general counsel, he oversees the activities of the Houston-based bank's problem asset unit, known as FIMSA Inc. This position places him in the midst of a troubled operation, saddled with what analysts call a tremendous nonperforming loan problem.

But with the diligence that landed him three college degrees in eight years and a personal intensity that gives rise to his straighforward style, Mr. Cahill is confident he will conquer his newest challenges.

"I've had a rich and diverse experience, which prepares me uniquely for this job," he quips. "Anybody who studies bus ridership as part of his education and winds up in banking belongs here."

The mass-transit background to which Mr. Cahill refers was part of his 1976 bachelor of arts degree in social science from the University of California at Irvine. He also holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Santa Barbara and a law degree from Whittier College School of Law.

After graduating from law school in 1979, he worked at two Los Angeles law firms until joining First Interstate in 1983. He served as assistant general counsel and senior vice president of First Interstate in Los angeles until moving to the Texas unit in 1989.

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