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In a marriage of east and west, New York’s Winthrop Stimson and San Francisco’s Pillsbury Madison & Sutro have announced they hope to merge by Jan. 1, 2001. The 265-lawyer Winthrop Stimson and the 596-attorney Pillsbury Madison signed a letter of intent to merge last Thursday. Partners will not vote on a final merger agreement until the fall, but the document signed last week sets out the basic outlines of the deal. The new firm, to be called Pillsbury Winthrop, will be chaired by current Pillsbury head Mary Cranston. John Pritchard, chairman of Winthrop, will be vice-chairman of the new firm. The managing partner will be Marina Park, who is now Pillsbury’s managing partner. “The vision of the two firms is identical,” said Pritchard. Both firms, he said, want to be global players in mergers and acquisitions, securities, finance and litigation. Pillsbury is already considered strong in intellectual property and emerging technologies, which are practice areas Winthrop is eager to expand. For several years, Winthrop has tried to expand by hiring laterals but, Pritchard said, the process was not efficient. “This is too competitive a market and it is too time-consuming to try to grow by ones and twos.” Pillsbury’s Park added that the lawyers at the two firms saw a “strategic fit and cultural fit” from when they had a preliminary meeting earlier this spring. “From the first time we met, were amazed at how in sync we were,” she said. Pillsbury has the bulk of its attorneys in its seven California offices, but also has a 75-lawyer office in Washington, D.C., six lawyers in Northern Virginia, a three-attorney satellite in New York City and one partner in Tokyo. Winthrop is more global, with small international offices in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo, as well as offices in Washington, D.C., Palm Beach, Fla., and Stamford, Conn., but has no West Coast presence. Although the firms have agreed to the broad terms of the merger, there are still details to be resolved. For one, Pillsbury has a two-tiered partnership structure, with equity and non-equity partners; Winthrop has only equity partners. While both firms say that all partners in Winthrop will be partners in the new firm, it is possible that some will become non-equity partners, according to Park. The firms have similar partnership compensation structures and roughly equal profits per partner. According to the July issue of The American Lawyer, average profits per partner are $520,000 at Winthrop and $505,000 at Pillsbury.

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