Turbulent times at Winston

It was a mixed month for US firm Winston & Strawn.

It was a mixed month for US firm Winston & Strawn.

Three banking partners left the firm’s London office, all of whom had joined Winston from Barlow Lyde & Gilbert only a year previously.

The departure left Winston’s London office with just four partners and seven associates.

Meanwhile in Paris this month, corporate partner Antoine Martin left Winston for Eversheds.

The Chicago-based firm had enough to contend with at home this month, what with a new managing partner, Thomas Fitzgerald, and a new chairman, Dan Webb, taking the helm from Jim Neis and rainmaker James Thompson respectively.

Thompson, chairman for 13 years, as well as being a former Illinois governor, has become a controversial figure of late. He insisted that the firm bankroll the corruption trial of another Illinois governor, George Ryan, whom Webb represented pro bono in court. Ordinarily Webb costs $700 (£370) an hour.

The trial, which saw Ryan sentenced to six and a half years the same week as Webb became chairman, reportedly cost Winston $20m (£10.52m) in foregone fees. Meanwhile, HP’s general counsel Ann Baskins hired Cristina Arguedas from Arguedas Cassman & Headley to represent her. Arguedas is no slouch in helping general counsel in trouble, recently representing Apple’s former legal director Nancy Heinen.

Regardless of the hearing’s findings, California’s attorney general Bill Lockyer believes pretexting to be fraudulent and went on TV (rather than the normal avenue of court) to announce that he had enough information to launch his own criminal investigation.

HP has instructed Bart Schwartz of Schwartz Nardello and a former federal prosecutor, to perform an independent inquiry into HP’s methods of stopping boardroom leaks.

One of HP’s senior in-house lawyers, Kevin Hunsaker, has already lost his job over the scandal and there have been calls for Baskins to step down.