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The lawyer for former Pillsbury Winthrop partner Frode Jensen on Thursday requested the cooperation of a headhunter he believes advised Pillsbury on its Sept. 4 press release accusing Jensen of sexual harassment and lowered productivity. In a letter obtained by the New York Law Journal, Stanley S. Arkin, Jensen’s lawyer, informed June Eichbaum, a partner with search firm Heidrick & Struggles, that he had “substantial reason to believe that during September 2002 [Heidrick] discussed Frode’s withdrawal from Pillsbury with representatives of Pillsbury, including the public perception of Mr. Jensen’s departure.” On Oct. 8, Jensen sued San Francisco-based Pillsbury for $45 million in Connecticut Superior Court. In his complaint, he charges that Pillsbury’s press release, which followed Latham & Watkins’ Sept. 3 announcement that Jensen was leaving Pillsbury’s Stamford, Conn., office to join Latham’s New York office, led to his being asked to withdraw from Latham, where he was due to start Oct. 1. Jensen claimed his position as a corporate partner at Latham would have paid him at least $1.1 million a year. The complaint, which names as defendants Pillsbury, the firm’s chairwoman, Mary Cranston; Vice Chair John Pritchard; and managing partner Marina Park, charges defamation, breach of contract, tortious interference with contract and conspiracy, among other claims. It also lists “outside advisors” and a “headhunting firm” as John and Jane Doe defendants, a pre-discovery tactic that permits a claimant to show there are additional defendants the claimant has not been able to definitively locate or identify. “[T]he headhunter advised defendants that Jensen’s departure to Latham would be viewed in the legal community as a serious blow to Pillsbury, and that it would make it difficult for Pillsbury to recruit lateral partners from other law firms in the future, and that Pillsbury had to take some action to counter the consequences to Pillsbury of Jensen’s departure,” Jensen alleges in his complaint. Park told the Law Journal at the time the press release was issued that Pillsbury’s management had received third-party feedback that perceptions of Jensen’s departure could hurt the firm in the market for lateral partners. In his letter to Eichbaum on Thursday, Arkin said he had been trying to reach her about the matter and left open the possibility that she and her New York-based firm might not have been involved. “Before I commence suit against you and Heidrick & Struggles,” Arkin wrote, “I thought it best and in your interest to explore the nature of your firm’s relationship and communications with Pillsbury’s management.” “It may be that all the awful things I’ve heard are not true,” he added. Reached Thursday, Arkin declined to specify his reasons for suspecting Eichbaum’s or Heidrick’s involvement. In an Oct. 9 interview with the Law Journal, Eichbaum said Pillsbury was not a client, she had never spoken to either Cranston or Park, and that she had not spoken to Pritchard in several years. She then declined further comment. She could not be reached for comment Thursday. In his letter, Arkin, who is the senior partner of Arkin Kaplan, also referred to difficulties he had had reaching Eichbaum. “As you know, I placed a telephone call to you earlier this week,” he wrote. “With transparent disingenuousness, you asked your assistant to return the call to see if my firm was interested in retaining Heidrick & Struggles.” If Eichbaum did not respond to the letter, Arkin wrote, he would seek disclosure via court order. STATEMENTS IN CONTROVERSY Eichbaum has made statements on the controversy. In a Sept. 9 article in The New York Times, she defended Pillsbury’s actions. “It is understandable that a firm would respond publicly with facts that contradict a competitor’s announcement that it has hired away a firm leader,” she told The Times. “Think about what silence would do to the morale of the firm and, possibly, others involved.” In Pillsbury’s Sept. 4 statement, Cranston said that Pillsbury had investigated sexual harassment complaints against Jensen and “concluded there was a reasonable likelihood that harassment had occurred.” Cranston also stated that Jensen experienced “a significant decline in productivity” and had been absent from his office for most of the year. A Pillsbury spokeswoman said Thursday the firm is not commenting on the lawsuit at this time. Heidrick & Struggles is one of the leading search firms in the financial services industry but is a relatively new player in the legal recruiting market. Eichbaum, a former partner in the New York office of legal search firm Major, Hagen & Africa, was brought aboard a few years ago specifically to spearhead Heidrick’s legal recruiting business. Competitors said Eichbaum had encountered difficulties because law firms were unwilling to pay the large retainers Heidrick headhunters were accustomed to charging investment banks and other corporations.

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