With a full name like Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, it's no
surprise that this firm is the product of big mergers between
well-established practices. The firms that created today's
Pillsbury have long, proud heritages that go back to the 1800s.
Pillsbury began on the west coast in 1874 as the practice of
Evans S. Pillsbury, who represented a local banking and delivery
service called Wells Fargo. In the 1880s, Pillsbury and his
partners began a long relationship with the U.S. oil industry,
working with the Pacific Coast Oil Company, which later evolved
into Chevron. Frank Madison and Alfred Sutro joined in 1895 as
associates, forming Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro. The early
twentieth century posed a number of challenges (the firm's offices
were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake), but Pillsbury
et al. persevered, rebuilding the practice and representing area
companies who were wrangling with their insurers. After World War
II, Pillsbury developed its real estate practice, drafting the
first condominium law in California and expanding to Washington, DC
and other parts of the Golden State.
Meanwhile, a firm called Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts
was establishing its own practice in New York. Winthrop Stimson's
story inevitably focuses on Henry L. Stimson, a Harvard Law grad
who got a job in 1891 at a firm called Root & Clark (a
venerable practice that dated to 1868). When the firm's founder,
Elihu Root, left private practice for public service in 1899,
Stimson took over the firm along with Bronson Winthrop. Stimson
rose to the highest echelons of American politics: he served as
President William Howard Taft's secretary of war, a WWI colonel, an
emissary to Nicaragua, the governor general of the Philippines,
President Hoover's secretary of state, and secretary of war under
presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. He also
created what is now known as "the Stimson doctrine," which asserts
non-recognition of territorial gains taken by force, a principle he
developed after studying Japan's aggressive tactics in 1930s
In 2001, Pillsbury Madison and Winthrop Stimson joined forces.
Four years later, the combined firm merged with Washington,
DC-based Shaw Pittman, which was well-known for global sourcing,
energy, technology and communications law.
Changing with the Times
Given its pedigree, the Pillsbury of today can boast that it has
had a hand in some of the most important matters in modern American
history, from the creation of the Patent Act, to the formation of
Intel, to the registration of the first dotcom trademark.
More recently it has worked with Facebook, ZTE, Chevron,
Deutsche Bank, Medtronic, the ACLU of Northern California, Blue
Cross Blue Shield, Wells Fargo, the California Public Employees'
Retirement System, San Diego ComicCon, New York University, Delta
Airlines, Jack in the Box, Duke Energy, Sony, Nubank, Costco, and
the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund.
The energy & natural resources, financial services, real
estate & construction, and technology sectors remain the firm's
bread and butter, although it has also developed region-specific
practices aimed at clients in China, Japan, Latin America, and the
Middle East. Pillsbury also maintains a unique "emerging issues"
program. These focus teams-which are regularly reviewed and
adjusted to reflect market trends-empower multidisciplinary teams
to pioneer new and novel areas of the law. These currently
encompass crisis management; digital currency and blockchain
technology; privacy, data security and information use;
public-private partnerships; unmanned aircraft systems; and water
In recognition of its cutting-edge work, Pillsbury made The
Financial Times' Innovative Law Firms list in 2015. The firm
placed 39th on The American Lawyer's 2016
Diversity Scorecard out of 220 firms and has been a Working
Mother magazine Top 100 Company for 10 years running.
Global M&A Network Recognizes
Pillsbury for "Restructuring of the Year"
The Global M&A Network presented Pillsbury with its
"Restructuring of the Year" award in the Energy category at its 9th
Annual Turnaround Atlas Awards gala ceremony in New York City. The
award was for those restructurings valued between $5 million and
$500 million. Pillsbury was honored for its work as committee
counsel for the Linc USA reorganization and its sale of assets.
The Future is Female
Pillsbury has been named to the 2017 NAFE Top 50
Companies and 10 Nonprofits for Executive Women by the
National Association for Female Executives (NAFE). The list
recognizes organizations whose policies and practices encourage
women's advancement and demonstrate that commitment based on the
number of women executives who hold leadership positions. "Law
firms are often tough places for women to succeed, but Pillsbury is
working to reverse that," says Dr. Betty Spence, NAFE
Beinvenidos a Miami
Pillsbury announced the opening of its newest office, in
Miami, as well as the addition of a prominent six-lawyer team from
Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP that will strengthen the firm's
highly regarded commercial litigation and tax practices in both
Florida and New York. Partners Jennifer Altman, Shani Rivaux and
senior counsel Aryeh Kaplan join the firm's Litigation group, while
partners Michael Kosnitzky, Keith Blum and special counsel Ivan
Mitev join Pillsbury's Tax practice.
Dude, You're Getting a Dell!
Pillsbury advised Japan-based NTT Data Corp. in its $3.06
billion purchase of Dell's IT services arm, Dell Systems.
Bloomberg reported that the transaction was NTT Data's
largest acquisition and that Dell is likely divesting some assets
before its reported $67 billion acquisition of EMC Corp, a provider
of software and storage systems.
Securing the Cyber
Spurred by the growing and often contradictory
cybersecurity regulatory burden facing companies, Pillsbury has
joined with Thomson Reuters and FireEye in an industry-first
collaboration to help corporations manage cybersecurity compliance
and risk in the face of new regulations. This alliance offers a
holistic, multi-pronged approach to cybersecurity risk assessment
and due diligence that combines legal counsel, technical
assessments and legal managed services to help meet a variety of
internal, external and regulatory standards.
Three Pillsbury matters were honored by Financial
Times for legal innovation in 2016. In the "Innovation in
Unlocking and Delivering Value" category, Pillsbury's Insolvency
& Restructuring team took top honors for guiding nonprofit VCLF
in its novel $860 million acquisition of bankrupt Patriot Coal.
Pillsbury won the "Innovation in Changing and Influencing
Regulation" award for its work with the state of Delaware and
client Symbiont to create the Delaware Blockchain Initiative.
Pillsbury's Global Sourcing team achieved a "Highly Commended"
ranking in the "Great Legal Ideas" category for its role in
creation of the Golden Contract Coalition.