Internet company valuations have sent mutual fund returns soaring over the past year. But those rocket-like stock prices have also created another phenomenon that fund companies are not so happy about - technology worker defections to those same Internet firms.

Consider, for instance, the situation in which Legg Mason of Baltimore, Md. finds itself. The tradition-rich investment firm and regional brokerage has had to watch as some of its technology staff have walked away from good jobs there for positions at start-ups and Internet firms.

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