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Two longtime litigators in Pillsbury Winthrop’s San Francisco office are jumping ship to Latham & Watkins. Between them, Stephen Stublarec, a well-known rainmaker, and Christopher Byers boast 43 years of service at Pillsbury, and each has played a managerial role within the firm. Word of the moves came as some Pillsbury offices postponed the start dates for incoming first-year associates, a sign that the firm continues to feel the pressures of the nation’s economic downturn. “I’ve had a wonderful career at Pillsbury, but this is an opportunity for me to join a firm that has emerged as one of the premier firms in the world with a global platform and a powerhouse litigation practice,” Stublarec said. Los Angeles-based Latham opened its Bay Area litigation practice in 1990 and has since grown to 60 attorneys. The firm’s average profits per partner were among the highest in the nation last year, at $1.06 million. Pillsbury’s 2001 PPP stood at $665,000. Pillsbury’s managing partner in San Francisco, Glenn Snyder, said the firm was sad to see the two litigators leave, but added that their departures would not have a big impact on Pillsbury. Snyder also confirmed that first-year San Francisco associates slated to report for duty in October, November and December were informed early last week that they would all be starting on Jan. 6, 2003. In New York and Los Angeles, first-years have been deferred to December. Corporate associates in Silicon Valley have also received a January start date. Pillsbury’s incoming class of associates consists of about 60 attorneys firmwide. “Hiring decisions for this fall’s associates were made at a time when business, especially the corporate business, was stronger,” said Snyder. “Rather than have a big bulge of associates when the workloads were a little bit off, we decided to even that off” and make sure that existing associates had full plates. Snyder acknowledged that the move would allow the firm to save some money, though he couldn’t say exactly how much the firm would save. He noted that deferred associates will receive a $5,000 bonus as well as an interest-free loan from the firm. This is the first time Pillsbury Winthrop has pushed back its associates’ starting schedules and consolidated them into a single date. Last year, Palo Alto, Calif.’s Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati delayed the start dates of some of its first-year associates. Like many Bay Area firms, Pillsbury has been affected by the slowdown in venture capital, initial public offerings and mergers and acquisition activity. Pillsbury has weathered the hard times, pulling in $444 million in revenue last year, thanks in part to its litigation practice. But Snyder said the loss of longtime Pillsbury litigators Stublarec and Byers to Latham & Watkins would not affect the firm’s litigation practice. Stublarec, who started at Pillsbury as a summer associate 28 years ago, is considered one of the firm’s rainmakers. “Everybody knows Stephen Stublarec,” said legal recruiter Martha Africa. “He’s incredibly well regarded.” During his career at Pillsbury, Stublarec served on the firm’s managing board as well as in the partner compensation committee and the finance committee. According to an attorney biography on the Pillsbury Web site, Byers’ clients include Unisys Corp., Safeway Inc. and GE Capital Container Finance Corp. Both Byers and Stublarec said it’s too early to talk about which clients might follow them to Latham, as the move won’t be official for another week or two. Gregory Lindstrom, the managing partner of Latham’s San Francisco office, sounded excited about his new colleagues’ potential. “One of the primary reasons we came to San Francisco is because of the big-ticket litigation practice present in the marketplace,” said Lindstrom. Pillsbury’s Snyder said he wasn’t aware of any clients that were heading to Latham, and said that the departure of two longtime attorneys did not signal a shift in Pillsbury’s direction. “We’ve been around for 130 years,” said Snyder. “Our priorities and goals are quite consistent and there hasn’t been any kind of shift.” Senior writer Renee Deger contributed to this story.

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