Pillsbury-Shaw Pittman merger offloads litigation team to Hunton

Merging US firms Pillsbury Winthrop and Shaw Pittman have made their first bold moves to transfer unwanted practices, sending a 20-lawyer insurance litigation team to Hunton & Williams and three aviation lawyers to Hogan & Hartson

Merging US firms Pillsbury Winthrop and Shaw Pittman have made their first bold moves to transfer unwanted practices, sending a 20-lawyer insurance litigation team to Hunton & Williams and three aviation lawyers to Hogan & Hartson.

As first revealed on www. thelawyer.com (3 March), the group of four partners, one counsel and 15 associates is led by Walter Andrews and Lon Berk, who will join Hunton’s Northern Virginia office. The Hogan aviation team is led by partner Robert Cohn.

Although the litigation practice is successful, it is not seen as core to the strategy. When the firms announced their merger three weeks ago, Pillsbury chair Mary Cranston suggested that as many as 100 lawyers may have to leave due to conflicts.

A Shaw Pittman spokes-person said: “We work really hard to solve any client conflicts, but it’s just inevitable that in a merger between two firms of this size some will be irreconcilable.”

Shaw Pittman has seen many departures over the last year as it has prepared itself for the Pillsbury merger. The two firms are desperate to meet a self-imposed completion deadline of 4 April 2005.

Andrews was co-head of litigation at Shaw Pittman. The team will continue to focus on representing insurers in coverage and bad faith disputes involving business interruption, construction defect, e-commerce issues and other emerging claims.

The Shaw Pittman haul follows Hunton’s 10-lawyer raid on the international disputes practice of another recently merged firm, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary.