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Frode Jensen, the former Pillsbury Winthrop partner whose planned departure prompted a highly controversial statement alleging sexual harassment and declining productivity from his ex-firm, has dropped plans to join Latham & Watkins’ New York office. “As a result of recent events, I have decided not to proceed with my partnership at Latham & Watkins,” said Jensen through a friend, who asked to remain unnamed. “I am consulting with attorneys regarding these events and I have no further comment at this time.” Kirk Davenport, chairman of Latham’s New York corporate department, also said Jensen had withdrawn his application to join Latham. He declined further comment. Jensen’s withdrawn application is the latest twist in the odd drama that began with Los Angeles-based Latham’s seemingly routine Sept. 3 announcement that its New York office was bringing aboard “prominent corporate lawyer Frode Jensen” from Pillsbury’s Stamford, Conn., office. San Francisco-based Pillsbury issued its now-infamous statement the next day. In that statement, Pillsbury Chair Mary Cranston said that as a result of an investigation into sexual harassment complaints against Jensen, the firm “concluded there was a reasonable likelihood that harassment had occurred and responded with a variety of measures.” Cranston also alleged in the release that Jensen had experienced a “significant decline in productivity,” and had been absent from his Stamford office for most of the year. Under the circumstances, Cranston said in the statement, “Mr. Jensen’s move is in the best interest of all concerned, and we wish him well with his new firm.” In a Sept. 4 interview with the Law Journal, Pillsbury managing partner Marina H. Park said Pillsbury had issued its statement because the firm felt Latham’s announcement had misleadingly depicted Jensen as a top mergers-and-acquisitions specialist. The firm had received third-party feedback, she said, that perceptions of a major loss by Pillsbury could hurt the firm in the market for lateral partners. Neither Cranston nor Park would comment on the matter Monday. Jensen had been due to start at Latham in October. One New York legal recruiter, who asked to remain unnamed, speculated that the embarrassment engendered by the situation caused Latham to prompt Jensen’s withdrawal. The public way in which the matter has unfolded will not help Jensen in seeking a position at another firm, the recruiter said. “It’ll be pretty tough,” the recruiter said. “It all depends on whether people believe there were serious problems at his old firm.” The recruiter noted that Pillsbury’s allegations of lowered productivity could weigh in the firms’ calculations as much as, if not more than, the sexual harassment allegations. But whatever career difficulties Jensen faces ahead will most likely factor heavily in the damages he seeks in any legal action he may have planned, providing his case has merit. “It would seem to me that the key issue is going to be whether Pillsbury’s statement is true,” said Dennis Orr, a litigation partner in the New York office of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw.

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