Skjerven collapse sees Pillsbury partners return

A total of nine former Pillsbury lawyers make up the 15-strong haul, after intellectual property firm Skjerven opted to wind up its operations.

The move was announced just days after Brobeck Phleger & Harrison's spectacular collapse.

Just three years ago ex-Pillsbury partners Robert Cosby, Robert Phleps, Reginald Steer and Bruce McDiarmid left to help set up Skjerven's San Francisco office. These partners, as well as Dave Hopmann, Vern Granneman, Elisa Smith, Rich Rados and Michael Huega, are all now returning to their former firm.

Skjerven, which was founded in 1976, began showing signs of trouble in late 2001 when the firm cut 11 associates. A second round of job cuts followed in January last year, when 18 associates and 27 staff lost their posts.

It is still unclear what brought Skjerven down, but it became one of a number of West Coast firms to be swept up in the dotcom wave, when in 1999 it awarded first-year associates salaries of $100,000 (£60,600)

It has emerged that Pillsbury was previously in merger talks with Skjerven, although “insurmountable issues” hampered progress.

At the time of the original departures to Skjerven, Marina Park, Pillsbury's firmwide managing partner, was reported to have said it was a result of clearer communication.

“When we communicate clearly what our strategy is, it gives people the opportunity to leave if they don't agree with it,” said Park.

Other Skjerven casualties are now also finding new homes. For example, Judith Recchio, who was Skjerven's head of employmentis joining Silicon Valley-based Tomlin-son Zisko Morosoli & Maser.