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HandWiki. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 15 April 2024).
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Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Template:Infobox Law Firm Pillsbury is a full-service law firm with an industry focus on the energy and natural resources, financial services including financial institutions, real estate and construction, technology, and travel and hospitality. Based in the world's major financial, technology and energy centers, Pillsbury counsels clients on global business, regulatory and litigation matters. It has approximately 700 attorneys operating from 20 offices in the U.S., London, Asia, and the Middle East. The firm has connections to the two main political parties in the United States. The law firm's two oldest predecessor firms were founded in New York City in 1868 and in San Francisco in 1874, following the California Gold Rush. The San Francisco firm helped create a number of new West Coast businesses including Chevron and Pacific Bell (now known as AT&T). In the 2000s, Pillsbury has become an advocate of labor outsourcing as a means of firms cutting costs by offering services to both buyers and providers of outsourcing services.

financial services technology real estate

1. History

Pillsbury's New York office is located in the Bertelsmann Building on Broadway.

Predecessor firm Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro opened in San Francisco in 1874, making Pillsbury the oldest "powerhouse" law firm in California. In 1900, Pillsbury incorporated Standard Oil of California—the company would later become Chevron, which has remained one of the firm's longstanding clients. Pillsbury managed Chevron's then-record $13.2 billion cash merger with Gulf Oil in 1984, its 2001 merger with Texaco and its 2005 acquisition of Unocal Corp.[1]

Pillsbury is the result of several law firm mergers. In 1990, Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro merged with Los Angeles -based Lillick & McHose, and then in 1996 with Washington, D.C.-based Cushman Darby & Cushman. In 2001, the firm merged with Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts of New York City (Winthrop Stimson's predecessor was founded in 1868 by future Secretary of State and Nobel Peace laureate Elihu Root; another past partner was statesman Henry L. Stimson). The firm changed its name to Pillsbury Winthrop.

In 2005 Pillsbury Winthrop merged with Shaw Pittman (formerly Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge), a 300-lawyer Washington, D.C.-based firm working in global sourcing, energy, real estate, technology and communications.

Pillsbury was involved in the drafting of the 1952 Patent Act, which serves as the basis for patent law today, and launched the first nuclear energy law practice in the U.S. in 1966. In 1968, the firm handled the formation of Intel Corporation, and in 1970, it served as counsel on the first public offering by a member of the New York Stock Exchange. In 1980, Pillsbury advised on the then-largest foreign acquisition of a U.S. bank, and in 1994, the firm registered the first trademark for a dotcom.[2]

In 2012, the firm entered into merger discussions with Washington, D.C.-based Dickstein Shapiro, but those talks ended by early 2013.[3]

2. Offices

Pillsbury currently has offices in:[4]

  • Austin
  • Beijing
  • Dubai
  • Hong Kong
  • Houston
  • London
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Nashville
  • New York City
  • Northern Virginia(Tysons Corner)
  • Palm Beach
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • San Diego - North County
  • San Francisco
  • Shanghai
  • Silicon Valley
  • Tokyo
  • Washington, D.C.

3. Notable Work

  • Represented American Express in its defense against claims related to the Salad Oil Scandal. [5]
  • Worked pro bono in conjunction with Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic to file an amicus brief in Karnoski v. Trump challenging the prohibition on military service by transgender people.[6]
  • Worked pro bono on behalf of Human Rights Watch, Immigrant Legal Resource Center and Freedom for Immigrants, to file an amicus brief in a high-profile case addressing the “tragic state” of immigration detention centers in California.[7]
  • Represented Cuker Interactive LLC in a trade secret dispute involving website development for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. An Arkansas jury found that Wal-Mart misappropriated trade secrets, awarding more than $12 million in damages.[8]
  • Represented New York University and NYU Langone Medical Center on their more than $1.4 billion property damage and business interruption insurance claims against FM Global arising from Superstorm Sandy.[9]
  • Represented Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. in numerous television group acquisitions, including $3.9 million Tribune Media acquisition and more than $2 billion in television station deals since 2013.[10]
  • Served as co-counsel pro bono with the Disability Rights Legal Center, which settled two groundbreaking lawsuits relating to the rights of students with disabilities under the care of Pomona Unified School District. As a result, the district will undergo extensive remedial action, including hiring experts in special education to review and revise the district’s policies, practices, and procedures.[11]
  • Represented a former Central American FIFA soccer official in a widely publicized international DOJ investigation involving cross-border money laundering and fraud allegations related to World Cup soccer matches.[12]
  • Represented NTT Data Corp. in its acquisition of Dell Inc.'s IT services division (infrastructure services, cloud services, application services, and business process outsourcing) for $3 billion.[13]
  • Worked pro bono with the ACLU of Northern California and Bay Area Legal Aid in a lawsuit challenging the suspension of driver’s licenses as a means of collecting unpaid traffic fines. Under the terms of the settlement, the Court will notify every traffic defendant of their right to be heard regarding their “ability to pay.”[14]
  • Successfully defended Duke Energy against Westinghouse's $512 million claim for termination costs resulting from the termination of an EPC Agreement for the Levy County nuclear power plant after bench trial in federal court.[15]
  • Handled contracting and advised on planning for $320 million AT&T Park construction, the first major privately funded U.S. sports facility to be built in more than 30 years.[16]
  • Advised Canadian developer in acquisition, financing and development of the world's largest retail, entertainment, amusement, recreation and tourism project, the $3.7 billion American Dream complex in New Jersey's Meadowlands.[17]
  • Represented Fifth Street Properties in its approximately $2 billion purchase of 787 Seventh Avenue in New York City (and concurrent acquisition of $1 billion in financing for the property purchase).[18]
  • Secured $71.7 million jury award for oil refinery company client, achieving full recovery against 14 insurers on a contingent business interruption claim resulting from a pipeline rupture.[19]
  • Represented ENEC on a $20 billion project to develop four new nuclear plants in the UAE, and MHI on a number of major nuclear energy-related matters.[20]
  • Represented Media General Inc. in its successful $2.6 billion merger with LIN Media LLC, including the sale of seven television stations to various buyers to address regulatory and antitrust concerns.[21]
  • Represented the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in its D.C. appeals court win against the U.S. Department of Energy. The appeals court panel ordered the DOE to suspend $750 million a year in nuclear waste fees until it comes up with a permanent facility for depositing the waste.[22]
  • Represented Aerostar Airport Holdings in 2013 in arranging a $2.6 billion, 40-year deal creating that is the first public-private partnership for a major U.S. airport. Pillsbury helped the client obtain FAA and TSA approval to lease and operate Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.[23]
  • Represented the Government of the United Arab Emirates in its establishment of a civilian nuclear program.
  • Represented Mitsui in its role as a minority partner with BP in the Deepwater Horizon drilling accident and oil spill.
  • Won a major patent infringement case for the University of Kansas Center for Research concerning work that two of its researchers had done which led to the development of blood cancer drug Velcade. Pillsbury was able to get both researchers listed as co-inventors on two patents owned by the National Institutes of Health covering the drug, which generated $623 million in sales in 2011.[24][25]
  • As Guantanamo Bay attorneys, lead counsel on Al Odah v. United States, one of the two lead cases arguing for the habeas corpus rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees.[26] On June 12, 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo Bay detainees have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.
  • Co-authored a key amicus brief on a pro bono basis on behalf of more than 60 Asian-American Bar Associations and community groups in California's historic same-sex marriage case, In re Marriage Cases.[27] The California Supreme Court overturned California's ban on gay marriages on May 15, stating that depriving gays and lesbians of the same rights as other citizens is unconstitutional.

4. Awards and Recognition

  • Received 2018 Richard W. Odgers Pro Bono Partner Award from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The award recognized Pillsbury's litigation effort to compel the Department of Defense to improve reporting to the federal background checks system following the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.[28]
  • Named a Top 10 Family-Friendly Firm by Yale Law Women in 2018.[29]
  • Named a 2017 Law Firm of the Year by Chambers Women in Law in the category of Furthering Women's Careers.[30]
  • BTI Consulting Group has named Pillsbury as one of the 25 "Most Recommended Law Firms among GCs" for more than five years in a row.[31]
  • Listed on Working Mother magazine's 100 Best Companies list for 11 straight years and was the first law firm to crack the top 10 in 2008.[32]
  • Maintained a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Equality Index every year since 2006.[33]
  • Acknowledged as a Top 50 Company for Executive Women for six years in a row by the National Association for Female Executives.[34]
  • Law360 named Pillsbury's Insurance Recovery & Advisory practice an "Insurance Group of the Year."[35]
  • Named 2017 Construction—Litigation "Law Firm of the Year" by Best Lawyers/U.S. News & World Report.[36]
  • Awarded 2017 M&A Advisor Technology M&A Deal of the Year and Global Corporate Deal of the Year ($1B to $10B).[37]
  • Named by BTI Consulting Group as a "Standout Law Firm" for Securities and Finance Litigation in 2017.[38]
  • The Financial Times identified Pillsbury as one of North America's most innovative law firms in 2015 and 2016.[39]
  • At the 2016 International Financial Law Review Americas Awards, Pillsbury was awarded the High Yield Deal of the Year and the Restructuring Debts Deal of the Year.[40]
  • 2016 M&A Advisor Turnaround Awards named Pillsbury as the winner for "Financials Deal of the Year."[41]
  • Named "Law Firm of the Year" for Environmental Law in 2014 by Best Lawyers/US News & World Report.[42]
  • In 2014, Pillsbury's Insolvency & Restructuring Practice was named to the 2014 International Financial Law Review's IFLR1000.[43][44]
  • Ranked 59th by The American Lawyer in its 2014 AmLaw 100 ranking of law firms by gross revenue.[45]
  • Ranked 67th by the National Law Journal in its 2014 ranking of largest law firms by attorney headcount.[46]
  • Ranked 23rd in The American Lawyer's annual survey measuring summer associates' satisfaction.[47]
  • Voted "Best Trade Law Firm in North America" in 2013 by Trade Finance Magazine.[43]
  • Named by Corporate Counsel in 2013 as a "go-to firm" in four areas: Corporate, Intellectual Property, Litigation and Securities.[43]
  • Named the "Corporate/Strategic Acquisition of the Year" at the 2013 HFMWeek US Hedge Fund Services Awards.[43]

5. Layoffs

In April 2006, Pillsbury had a round of layoffs. These layoffs were in connection with the merger with Shaw Pitman in April 2005.[48] The layoffs included its unofficial mascot, Martin Macy.[49] Macy, who had started with the firm at the age 17, had been in the San Francisco office for 41 years prior to his dismissal. He was terminated from his position as messenger to save his annual salary of $34,000.[50] At the time, the combined revenue for the partners at the firm had dropped from $780,000 to $760,000 [51] and the firm's assets were over $6 million.[52] To assist Macy, the legal community created a trust fund to which former co-workers, clients and other members of the legal community donated money.[52] The San Francisco Chronicle reported that "His dismissal has become something of a cause celebre in the San Francisco legal community." [52] By April 2007, over $230,000 had been gathered for Macy.[53] Macy died in his sleep on February 2008.[54]

6. Misconduct

In 2009 a United States federal judge found misconduct by a number of lawyers regarding the conflict of interest disclosure failures by Pillsbury Winthrop in the SONICblue bankruptcy case stating "The reorganization of SONICblue, Inc. has been tragically marred by the misdeeds of professionals".[55] Pillsbury was forced to disgorge $10 million in fees for filing a false affidavit and hiding their conflict of interest for the debtor in the bankruptcy case of SONICblue. The federal judge ordered the firm to step down citing the "complete breakdown of creditor confidence" due to the firm's failure to make a required disclosure of a conflict of interest involving a number of hedge funds. Counsel for the official creditors committee gave tacit approval of the conflict as neither law firm brought the matter to the attention of the court.[56] Sequential conflict disclosure misconduct in the SONICblue bankruptcy case has escalated the possible consequences to Pillsbury.[57] The lawyer representing the successor to SONICblue subsequently learned that in addition to the failure to disclose the conflict, the firm also failed to disclose their own withdrawal of funds from the Debtor during the pre-petition preference period and had petitioned the Federal Judge to refer the firm's responsible lawyers for criminal prosecution[58] and sought $30 million in damages from Pillsbury Winthrop and associated parties on the official creditors committee as well as their counsel.[59][60]

On March 29, 2018, Pillsbury Winthrop was disqualified from representing a client, Continental Service Group Inc. who collects overdue student loans. A partner had said about a competitor (Performant Financial Corp.) that it "was not a highly rated" company. However, Performant was a current client of Pillsbury Winthrop in other matters. The judge stated that the Pillsbury Winthrop's partners' statements "created a situation where he has stunted Pillsbury's ability to effectively and zealously advocate on ConServe's behalf." Pillsbury denied any wrongdoing.[61]


  2. "Firm history". Official website. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  3. Post, Ashley (14 January 2013). "Pillsbury, Dickstein end merger talks". Inside Counsel. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  4. "Offices" (JSP). Official website. Retrieved 2013-05-14. 
  5. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}".
  6. "Pillsbury Joins Columbia Law Clinic in Brief on Transgender Military Ban Case" (in en). 
  7. "Pillsbury Files Amicus Brief on Immigration Detention Centers" (in en). 
  8. Dujardin, Peter. "Company founded by Hampton native wins $12 million verdict against Wal-Mart" (in en-US). 
  9. "New York University v. Factory Mutual Insurance Company" (in en). 
  10. "In $3.9 Billion Equity Deal, Sinclair Acquires Tribune Media" (in en). 
  11. "Pillsbury and Disability Rights Legal Center Salute Settlement" (in en). 
  12. "FIFA Bribery Trial Set For Fall 2017; Plea Talks Underway - Law360" (in en). 
  13. "The Deal - Login" (in en). 
  14. "Landmark Lawsuit Settlement for Fair Treatment of Low-Income Drivers" (in en). 
  15. "Pillsbury Helps Duke Energy Shutdown $512M Termination Fee Claim" (in en). 
  16. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}".
  17. "Pillsbury Counsels Triple Five Group in Connection with Financing" (in en). 
  18. "$2 Billion Real Estate Deal Cited as One of 2016’s Largest" (in en). 
  19. "Pillsbury Trial Team Secures $72 Million for Lion Oil" (in en). 
  20. "Pillsbury Leads Two Historic International Nuclear Energy Projects" (in en). 
  21. "Communications Practice (Sectors)" (in en). 
  24. "Pillsbury website". 
  25. "Bloomberg Businessweek". 
  28. "Giffords Law Center Honors Pillsbury at 25th Anniversary Gala" (in en). 
  29. "Yale Law Women Names Pillsbury a Top 10 Family-Friendly Firm" (in en). 
  30. "Women in Law Awards: USA 2017 - Chambers and Partners" (in en-gb). 
  31. "The Most Recommended Law Firms 2017" (in en-US). BTI Consulting Group. 
  32. "2017 Working Mother 100 Best Companies" (in en). Working Mother. 
  33. "Pillsbury Awarded Perfect Score on Corporate Equality Index" (in en). 
  34. "NAFE Names Pillsbury to Top 50 Companies for Executive Women" (in en). 
  35. "Insurance Group Of The Year: Pillsbury - Law360" (in en). 
  36. "U.S. News – Best Lawyers Names Pillsbury Best of the Year for Construction Litigation" (in en). 
  37. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}".
  38. "The Securities and Finance Litigation Outlook" (in en-US). BTI Consulting Group. 
  39. "Innovative Lawyers - Financial Times" (in en). 
  40. "IFLR Recognizes Pillsbury Transactions as Deals of the Year" (in en). 
  41. "Pillsbury-led Transaction Recognized as Financials Deal of the Year" (in en). 
  44. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}".
  48. "One Year In, Pillsbury Merger Not an Easy Fit", The National Law Journal, Leigh Jones, April 17, 2006
  49. "Beloved staffer downsized at Pillsbury," by Marie-Anne Hogarth, The Recorder, 04/03/2006
  50. "Legal world conjures up a conscience" by Joan Ryan, San Francisco Chronicle, 04/06/2006
  51. Jones
  52. Ryan
  53. "Sidebar," The Recorder, 04/09/2007
  54. Niraj Chokshi, "Martin Macy, Ex-Pillsbury 'Mascot,' Dies at 59", The Recorder February 21, 2008
  55. "OPINION AND ORDER". Marilyn Morgan U.S. Bankruptcy Judge NDCA. Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  56. "BigLaw Firm Bounced From Bankruptcy Case". New York Lawyer. Retrieved March 27, 2007. 
  57. "Law Firm Faces Another Conflict Accusation Due to Non-Disclosure". Klein, DeNatale, Goldner, Cooper, Rosenlieb & Kimball, LLP. Archived from the original on July 23, 2008. Retrieved August 21, 2008. 
  58. "Motion Asks Judge to Refer Pillsbury Partner for Possible Perjury Prosecution". Retrieved April 17, 2008. 
  59. "Pillsbury Winthrop BankruptcyMisconduct". Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2008. 
  60. "Trustee Seeks $30 Million Hit for SonicBlue Law Firms, Creditors". Retrieved April 17, 2008. 
  61. "Judge cites Pillsbury partner's remarks to newspaper in disqualifying firm from representation". Retrieved April 6, 2018. 
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