Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

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Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman
Headquarters Bertelsmann Building
New York, New York
No. of offices 15
No. of attorneys approximately 700
Key people James M. Rishwain, Jr., Firm Chair[1]
Date founded 1868
Company type Limited liability partnership

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP (formerly Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro) is an American law firm serving the energy, real estate, financial services, transportation, and technology sectors, specializing in regulatory practice, as well as corporate & securities, environment, intellectual property, litigation, employment and international law.

It has approximately 700 attorneys operating from 15 offices in the U.S., London, Asia, and the Middle East.[2] The firm has connections to the two main political parties in the United States.[3]

The law firm's two oldest predecessor firms were founded in New York in 1868 and in San Francisco in 1874, following the California Gold Rush. The San Francisco firm, generally known as Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, 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.[4]


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

Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro was a San Francisco-focused firm for most of the 20th century. In 1900, Pillsbury incorporated Standard Oil of California, the company that would later become Chevron. The firm launched the first nuclear energy law practice in the U.S. in 1966. 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.[5] It merged with Los Angeles-based Lillick & McHose in 1990, 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.

In 2012, the firm entered into merger discussions with Washington, D.C.-based Dickstein Shapiro, but those talks ended by early 2013.[6]


Pillsbury currently has offices in:[7] Abu Dhabi, Houston, London, Los Angeles, New York, Northern Virginia (Tysons Corner), Nashville (Operations), Sacramento, San Diego, San Diego - North County, San Francisco, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Tokyo, and Washington, D.C.

Notable work[edit]

  • 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.[8]
  • Advised Mission West Properties Inc., owned by Carl Berg, on its sale of a portfolio of real estate valued at $1.3 billion.[9] Silicon Valley Business Journal named this the biggest commercial real estate deal in the Valley in 2012. “The [Mission West sale] was so massive, its total sale price alone is equivalent (or pretty close) to the other top four sales combined on our list,” wrote the journal.[10]
  • Represented Nicira, a cloud network software startup, on its $1.26 billion sale to VMware.[11] Billionaire investor Ben Horowitz who has backed Nicira with venture funding, told TechCrunch that being part of VMware gives the company a great foundation to becoming the biggest networking technology in the world, in a market that is expected to be $37 billion to $40 billion in size over the next few years.[12]
  • Advised Lenovo on a new partnership with EMC, which will allow Lenovo to resell machines made by EMC and include a joint venture to sell storage equipment to small and mid-sized companies. Analysts told the Wall Street Journal that the deal will help Lenovo diversify and boost sales outside of Asia, while EMC will benefit from better access to China and other developing markets.[13][14]
  • Representing the Government of the United Arab Emirates in its establishment of a civilian nuclear program.
  • Representing Mitsui in its role as a minority partner with BP in the Deepwater Horizon drilling accident and oil spill.
  • Advised Tesoro Corporation in 2012 on its $2.5 billion purchase of BP’s refinery in Carson, California [15]
  • Represented J.P. Morgan Securities and Bank of America Merrill Lynch as the lead arrangers on the $2.225 billion financing of AMC Network’s spinoff from Cablevision.[16][17] The transaction created AMC as a stand-alone company and was a major milestone in its development as a leading content broadcaster and distributor, according to AMC chief executive Josh Sapan.[18]
  • 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.[17][19]
  • 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.[20] 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.[21] 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.
  • Advised WebEx on its IPO in 2000, and in its $3.2 billion acquisition by Cisco Systems.[22]
  • Achieved a number of “firsts” in a single $5 billion nuclear deal, when a Texas utility selected one of Pillsbury’s long-time clients as its supplier of leading-edge nuclear reactor technology: it was the client’s first deal in the U.S., the first time a Japanese company will lead an overseas nuclear contract, and the first time a Japanese-made reactor will be exported overseas. For more than a year, the firm helped this major Japanese company enter the U.S. market, with four offices working on regulatory, public policy, business planning, intellectual property, employment and transactional matters.[23]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Named to the National Association for Female Executives’ 2013 list of Top 50 Companies for Executive Women.[24]
  • Named by Corporate Counsel in 2012 as a “go-to firm” in four areas: Corporate, Intellectual Property, Litigation and Securities.[25]
  • Named the “Best Onshore Law Firm – Client Service” at the 2011 HFMWeek US Hedge Fund Services Awards.[26]
  • Ranked 60th by the American Lawyer in its AmLaw 100 ranking of law firms by gross revenue.[27]
  • Ranked 62th[clarification needed] by the National Law Journal in its ranking of largest law firms by attorney headcount.[28]
  • Ranked 59th by Vault in its ranking of the nation's most prestigious law firms.[29]
  • Named 2010 Best Investor Counsel of the Year in China at the 2010 TopCapital Investment and Investor Awards.[30]
  • Recognized by Working Mother magazine as one of the 2009 Working Mother & Flex-Time Lawyers Best Law Firms for Women [31]
  • Named Best Government Affairs/Regulatory Law Firm of the Year at the 2009 International Legal Alliance Summit & Awards in Paris [32]
  • 2009 Best Corporate Counsel of the Year in China according to Top Capital, for the firm's work in the private equity and venture capital sector [33]
  • Asian-Counsel's 2009 UAE Energy Firm of the Year [34]
  • Winner of a 2008 InnovAction Award from The College of Law Practice Management for its patented business process, ValueChain[35]
  • 2007 Black Book of Outsourcing's #1 Global Sourcing legal advisor [36]


In April 2006, Pillsbury had a round of layoffs. These layoffs were in connection with the merger with Shaw Pitman in April 2005.[37] The layoffs included its unofficial mascot, Martin Macy.[38] 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.[39] At the time, the combined revenue for the partners at the firm had dropped from $780,000 to $760,000 [40] and the firm's assets were over $6 million.[41] 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.[41] The San Francisco Chronicle reported that "His dismissal has become something of a cause celebre in the San Francisco legal community." [41] By April 2007, over $230,000 had been gathered for Macy.[42] Macy died in his sleep on February 2008.[43]


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".[44] 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.[45] Sequential conflict disclosure misconduct in the SONICblue bankruptcy case has escalated the possible consequences to Pillsbury.[46] 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 has petitioned the Federal Judge to refer the firm's responsible lawyers for criminal prosecution[47] and is seeking $30 million in damages from Pillsbury Winthrop and associated parties on the official creditors committee as well as their counsel.[48][49]


  1. ^ Rishwain's firm bio
  2. ^ "Welcome page". Official website. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  3. ^ [1] No Better Time, Pillsbury Newsletter, John Haworth and Mario F. Dottori, December 5, 2008, page 1.
  4. ^ "Firm history". Official website. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  5. ^ Post, Ashley (14 January 2013). "Pillsbury, Dickstein end merger talks". Inside Counsel. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "Offices" (JSP). Official website. Retrieved 2013-05-14. 
  7. ^ http://www.pillsburylaw.com/news/pillsbury-client-aerostar-airport-holdings-secures-faa-approval-closes-deal-to-lease-and-operate-luis-munoz-marin-international-airport
  8. ^ "Pillsbury Advises Mission West in Deal". 
  9. ^ "Top Silicon Valley CRE Sales 2013". 
  10. ^ "Pillsbury Advises Nicira on $1.05 Billion Deal with VMware". 
  11. ^ "TechCrunch". 
  12. ^ "Pillsbury Helps Lenovo Create Major Partnership". 
  13. ^ "Wall Street Journal". 
  14. ^ http://www.thedeal.com/content/energy/bp-sells-refinery-to-tesoro.php
  15. ^ "Bloomberg". 
  16. ^ a b "Pillsbury website". 
  17. ^ "AMC Networks Press Release". 
  18. ^ "Bloomberg Businessweek". 
  19. ^ http://www.law.utoronto.ca/documents/Mackin/khadr_reply_AlOdah2.pdf
  20. ^ http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/Asian_Amer_Bar_Assn_Amicus_Curiae_Brief.pdf
  21. ^ http://www.pillsburylaw.com/publications/webex-communications-keeping-airline-executives-up-at-night
  22. ^ http://www.pillsburylaw.com/history
  23. ^ http://www.workingmother.com/best-companies/2013-nafe-top-50-companies-executive-women
  24. ^ http://www.pillsburylaw.com/recognition
  25. ^ http://www.pillsburylaw.com/news/pillsbury-honored-for-service-to-hedge-fund-industry
  26. ^ http://www.americanlawyer.com/PubArticleTAL.jsp?id=1202549382505
  27. ^ http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?germane=1202489565842&id=1202548639714
  28. ^ http://www.vault.com/wps/portal/usa/rankings/individual?rankingId1=2&rankingId2=-1&rankings=1&regionId=0&rankingYear=2013&pageRange=51-75
  29. ^ [2]
  30. ^ Working Mother Website
  31. ^ ILA Website
  32. ^ PR Newswire Asia
  33. ^ http://www.pillsburylaw.com/nuclear-energy
  34. ^ http://collegeoflpm.org/innovaction-awards/award-winners/2008-innovaction-award-winners/
  35. ^ http://www.pillsburylaw.com/recognition/pillsbury-ranked-1-outsourcing-legal-advisor
  36. ^ "One Year In, Pillsbury Merger Not an Easy Fit", The National Law Journal, Leigh Jones, April 17, 2006
  37. ^ "Beloved staffer downsized at Pillsbury," by Marie-Anne Hogarth, The Recorder, 04/03/2006
  38. ^ "Legal world conjures up a conscience" by Joan Ryan, San Francisco Chronicle, 04/06/2006
  39. ^ Jones
  40. ^ a b c Ryan
  41. ^ "Sidebar," The Recorder, 04/09/2007
  42. ^ Niraj Chokshi, "Martin Macy, Ex-Pillsbury 'Mascot,' Dies at 59", The Recorder February 21, 2008
  43. ^ "OPINION AND ORDER". Marilyn Morgan U.S. Bankruptcy Judge NDCA. Retrieved December 29, 2009. 
  44. ^ "BigLaw Firm Bounced From Bankruptcy Case". New York Lawyer. Retrieved March 27, 2007. 
  45. ^ "Law Firm Faces Another Conflict Accusation Due to Non-Disclosure". Klein, DeNatale, Goldner, Cooper, Rosenlieb & Kimball, LLP. Retrieved August 21, 2008. 
  46. ^ "Motion Asks Judge to Refer Pillsbury Partner for Possible Perjury Prosecution". Retrieved April 17, 2008. 
  47. ^ [http://www.bankruptcymisconduct.com/site/content/view/65/89/ - "Pillsbury Winthrop BankruptcyMisconduct"]. Retrieved May 28, 2008. [dead link]
  48. ^ "Trustee Seeks $30 Million Hit for SonicBlue Law Firms, Creditors". Retrieved April 17, 2008. 

External links[edit]