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When James Rishwain Jr., Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s new chairman, takes the reins in January, it looks like he’ll have his hands full with issues stemming from the 2005 merger of California’s Pillsbury Winthrop and D.C.-based Shaw Pittman. Last week a group of six former Shaw Pittman partners who left the firm at the time of the merger filed an amended complaint in their lawsuit against the merged entity in the Circuit Court for the City of Alexandria, Va., claiming the firm owes them millions in unreturned capital contributions and for work they did in the first quarter of 2005. The six — Jack Lewis, John Harper, Charles Katz, Thomas Knox, Daniel Westman, and Lawrence Yanowitch — are now partners with Morrison & Foerster’s Northern Virginia office. Pillsbury has asked the judge to compel arbitration, citing clauses in the partnership agreement in effect at the time the partners left the firm, according to a Pillsbury spokesman. Walter Andrews, another former Shaw Pittman partner now with Hunton & Williams, is representing the six. He says that because Pillsbury breached the partnership agreement first by refusing to pay the partners, it can’t now claim the benefits of that agreement. And in any case, some of the claims can’t be subject to arbitration by law, he adds. Keeping things in the family, Pillsbury hired former Shaw Pittman litigator Philip Harvey, who is now a partner in Venable’s Tysons Corner, Va., office, to defend the action. Pillsbury had more trouble with some of its Shaw Pittman alumni last week. Several lawyers from its patent litigation practice announced they will decamp to the D.C. office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. The group — led by partners Larry Gotts, who founded Shaw Pittman’s patent practice, and Michael Bednarek — includes Aslan Baghdadi, Mark Koehn, and Elizabeth Roesel, who will join as counsel; five to eight associates; and a handful of paralegals. One source says another group is poised to leave and recruiters are circling. But not all news is bad for Pillsbury. Last week, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox appointed Michael Halloran, the senior partner in Pillsbury’s corporate and securities practice group, to be his deputy chief of staff and counselor.
Alexia Garamfalvi can be contacted at [email protected].

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