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Pillsbury Winthrop and Washington-based Shaw Pittman have agreed to merge to create a firm of some 900 lawyers. The two firms, which signed a letter of intent last week, expect to complete their merger in April. The combined firm will adopt the name Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. The long-expected move will make 650-lawyer Pillsbury Winthrop, itself the result of a 2001 merger between New York and San Francisco firms, a major force in Washington as well as a leading technology outsourcing practice. Shaw Pittman, which has about 380 lawyers, will gain access to the larger firm’s West Coast and New York operations. “This moves us both closer to our shared vision of being a full-service international law firm,” said Mary Cranston, the chairwoman of Pillsbury Winthrop. Cranston will become chairwoman of the combined firm. Stephen Huttler, the managing partner of Shaw Pittman, will become one of two vice chairmen. Pillsbury Winthrop partner David Snyder will be the other. Pillsbury Winthrop managing partner Marina Park will be firmwide managing partner. He said the firms had already examined major practices and had found no “killer conflicts” that could derail the merger. Scores may depart But the firms are still sorting through other potential conflicts and issues. Scores of lawyers are expected to depart the firms as a result of the merger, leaving the total near 900. Huttler said last week that Shaw Pittman had long sought to expand beyond its base around the nation’s capital and had explored other avenues of growth before talks with Pillsbury Winthrop began a year ago. “We looked at our platform to see if we could do this ourselves,” he said. “We decided this would get us there faster.” The San Francisco firm formerly known as Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro has grown aggressively through mergers in recent years. Four years ago, the firm combined with New York’s Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts to become Pillsbury Winthrop. The firm’s biggest offices are in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Cranston said the combined firm would continue to look for merger opportunities. Shaw Pittman is best known for its Northern Virginia-based outsourcing practice, whose lawyers advise large corporations in major outsourcing transactions, mostly in the information technology area. Pillsbury Winthrop’s existing Washington office is largely a legacy of its 1996 acquisition of intellectual property boutique Cushman Darby & Cushman.

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