Legal Business Blogs

Mass hires: Pillsbury sees partners start to move to Winston & Strawn across three offices

Up to 15 lawyers are set to quit from US firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman for Winston & Strawn, with the firm’s Abu Dhabi managing partner Stephen Jurgenson, London-based co-head of energy, infrastructure and projects James Simpson and New York-based structured products chief Jeffrey Stern having already resigned from the firm.

An internal announcement to the Winston & Strawn partnership on Monday confirmed that Stern had joined the firm. Legal Business understands the New York structured finance specialist also attended Winston & Strawn’s annual partners meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, last week. Management at Winston & Strawn was hoping to announce what one partner told Legal Business is ‘up to 15 lawyers, mainly partners, and mostly heads of departments’ at the four-day gathering which ended on Sunday, but was delayed as some Pillsbury partners are still to resign.

The swoop reinvigorates what has been a flagging international strategy at Winston & Strawn following a number of partner exits in 2014 and bolsters the firm’s finance credentials in the US, London and the Middle East. The firm is well known and regarded for its litigation capabilities in the US, with disputes accounting for around 50% of the firm’s global revenue, and this move is viewed by partners as a major push to rebalance the firm and build up in corporate.

Jurgenson’s arrival will result in Winston & Strawn launching in the Middle East, with the firm contemplating whether he continues to operate in Abu Dhabi or relocates to Dubai. The new office will become Winston & Strawn’s 19th global office, but one issue that will need to be resolved is that the firm will need to obtain its own license for him to practice under its banner, as it is necessary for him to be employed to stay in the jurisdiction.

Stern is seen by Winston & Strawn management as a major coup in New York, with two decades of experience in structured finance and derivatives under his belt. He has also moved into the crowdfunding arena, helping to launch a number of financings. He previously spent time as a partner at US firms Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and Thacher Proffitt & Wood.

Meanwhile, Simpson is set to join Winston & Strawn’s London office in April and is expected to bring across a team of associates as well. Simpson works closely with Jurgenson in the Middle East, given his large book of business in the region, and has more than 25 years of corporate transaction experience. He leaves after just three years at Pillsbury, having joined in May 2012 from now defunct Dewey & LeBouf, where he was also a partner.

Commenting on the departures, Pilsbury said in a statement: ‘While Pillsbury has had excellent partner retention in recent years, it is nevertheless a fact of life that partners come and go at all firms. We are very sorry to see any partner leave us. We wish these partners nothing but the best in their new endeavor.’