Pillsbury Winthrop and Shaw Pittman enter merger talks

San Francisco-based Pillsbury Winthrop and Washington DC’s Shaw Pittman have entered merger discussions, which – if successful – would gatecrash the top 20 US firms.

Shaw Pittman has been hit by a number of partner departures in the US and in London and is specifically looking to increase its size in New York.

The Big Apple is well covered by Pillsbury Winthrop, itself a result of a 2000 merger between New York’s Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts and San Francisco’s Pillsbury Madison & Sutro. The firms have shared strengths in the technology market and Pillsbury would benefit from Shaw Pittman’s DC-based regulatory expertise.

A source in Shaw Pittman’s management team said that a merger was on the agenda and refused to deny that talks with Pillsbury had started.

Pillsbury’s chair Mary Cranston has often spoken of the firm’s desire to increase in size through merger, targeting a number of UK firms in addition to its US ambitions.

A merger would create a firm with over 1,000 lawyers and turnover in excess of $600m.