Lawyers are scheduled to appear in a Boston court Friday to argue over whether James D. McCall, a portfolio manager at Pilgrim Baxter & Associates, should be allowed to leave the firm and join Merrill Lynch & Co.

McCall filed suit May 14 against Pilgrim Baxter of Wayne, Pa. and its parent company, United Asset Management of Boston, saying that a non-compete agreement which McCall has with Pilgrim Baxter is not binding. Pilgrim Baxter and UAM filed a counter-suit also on May 14 asking a Massachusetts state court judge to uphold McCall's non-compete agreement.

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