One of Washington's best-known regulatory lawyers has left the powerful Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and created a boutique firm focusing exclusively on financial services law.

Gilbert T. Schwartz and former Morrison & Foerster partner Robert Ballen officially open their four-attorney firm today.

"Given the direction of the financial services industry in the '90s and the next century, small boutique law firms are going to have a place serving bank needs in an economic way," Mr. Schwartz said. "This is a niche that we are carving out."

Besides, he added, it feels good to have your name on the door.

Schwartz & Ballen's low overhead - it will only employ two nonlawyers - gives it more freedom to specialize than larger firms that must support such huge staffs, Mr. Schwartz said.

"Hopefully, this will provide some assistance to financial services companies," Mr. Ballen said of the new firm.

This is not the first time Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Ballen have worked together. They labored away at the Federal Reserve Board's legal department in the early 1980s.

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Doyle Bartlett is joining Rep. Bill McCollum's staff full time this week.

Mr. Bartlett had taken a leave of absence from his job as general counsel at the Conference of State Bank Supervisors to help Rep. McCollum in his race to become the House majority whip.

The Florida Republican lost, and Mr. Bartlett went back to the CSBS, where he has worked since June 1988.

Mr. Bartlett was out of the country last week and could not be reached, but he will initially oversee banking issues in his new job on Rep. McCollum's personal staff.

This will be Mr. Bartlett's second stint with Rep. McCollum. He helped the congressman get reelected in 1982, staying on as an aide for several years.

The CSBS has not named a replacement for Mr. Bartlett yet.

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Banking consultant John Bryant, 28, who has helped Washington regulators urge banks to do more lending in downtrodden communities, was honored by Time magazine last month.

Mr. Bryant was one of Time's "Fifty for the Future," which lists America's most promising leaders under the age of 40.

Mr. Bryant is the chairman and chief executive officer of Operation Hope, a Los Angeles-based public/private partnership in urban economic empowerment.

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The thrift trade group's chief economist Robert R. Davis was recently elected president of the national capital chapter of the National Association of Business Economists.

Mr. Davis joined the Savings and Community Bankers of America in July 1993.

The business economists group is a professional organization of economists and analysts who specialize in business matters.

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Television viewers nationwide saw Dime Savings Bank's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, David J. Totaro, make a cameo appearance last week on NBC's occasional series "TV Nation."

Deadpan comic Stephen Wright interviewed Mr. Totaro about what disasters might befall the nation next year. He asked the banker whether "the economy would collapse in 1995."

Mr. Totaro, standing in the lobby of Dime's flagship branch, had a quick answer - "No."

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The American Bankers Association promoted Kenneth Clayton as its chief legislative counsel and Debbie Shannon as its manager of House lobbying.

Mr. Clayton joined the ABA 4#1/2 years ago from the House Banking Committee. In his new post he will be drafting and analyzing the wording of banking legislation.

Ms. Shannon will be responsible for coordinating the ABA's lobbying of the House. She joined the ABA three years ago after lobbying for the National Multi-Housing Council, the National Association of Realtors, and the former Security Pacific Bank.

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