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Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman doesn’t have enough lawyers in Stamford, Conn., to justify the cost of maintaining its branch office there, firm officials said May 25 in announcing an end to the outpost’s 26-year run. Plans were to close down Pillsbury’s Stamford beachhead at the end of this week. Susan J. Kohlman, managing partner of the approximately 900-lawyer firm’s Manhattan office, said the move is not related to the merger of Pillsbury Winthrop and Shaw Pittman. “It was purely a business decision the board made. We’ve always been looking at [the Stamford office] because size has always been a concern,” Kohlman said. “We couldn’t support the size of the office.” Kohlman would not say what is to become of the eight lawyers now based in the Stamford office or its support staff and patent agents. She did, however, indicate that one attorney would be relocating to the firm’s Silicon Valley office. Crystal Rockwood, director of communications for the firm, said, “Unless people are going to be discussing their personal plans, we’re not going to discuss” them either. None of the attorneys at the firm would discuss their plans by press time. “They’ve been presented with a number of options and opportunities,” said Rockwood. Thomas F. Clauss, managing partner of the Stamford office, already has a Manhattan presence, according to the firm’s Web site. Those attorneys who do transfer will be moving to a New York office that has 150 lawyers. LIMITED INROADS While regional firms like Hartford, Conn.-based Murtha Cullina have recently moved into the Stamford market because they want a physical presence in Fairfield County, Kohlman said Pillsbury isn’t concerned about being located 40 miles away in Manhattan. “We’re not getting out of the Connecticut market,” Kohlman said. “The office was small. We’ll be able to service the market out of the New York office.” Peter A. Giuliani, a Stamford-based legal management consultant with Smock�Sterling Strategic Management Consultants, said local firms probably won’t pick up much business from the office’s demise. “In the grand scheme of things, this was just a very small backwater office. I don’t think they were making a lot of heavy inroads into the Connecticut market,” Giuliani said. “Pillsbury Winthrop was not on the radar screen in the Connecticut business world.” The office, which at one time was home to more than 20 attorneys, is one of 16 that Pillsbury Winthrop maintains worldwide. Rockwood said it is the smallest of the firm’s U.S. offices. It originally opened in 1979 — as part of what was then Winthrop Stimson, Putnam & Roberts — to service the Singer Company. (Winthrop Stimson merged with San Francisco-based Pillsbury Madison & Sutro in 2001.) Kohlman said the firm had historically been counsel to the Singer Company, which at the time was headquartered in Stamford. The company has since gone out of business. “The Stamford office has always been problematic,” Giuliani said. “It was basically set up to serve one client. They couldn’t figure out what to do [with it] after that.” Giuliani added that out-of-state firms with strong cornerstones, such as New York-based Kelley Drye & Warren with Union Carbide and Pitney Bowes, have had more success in the Stamford market. Besides undergoing two major mergers in recent years, Pillsbury’s Stamford locale endured widespread notoriety in September 2002 when veteran corporate attorney Frode Jensen went to join the New York office of Latham & Watkins. When Jensen and Latham went public with the move, in the form of a press release, Pillsbury shot back with a stunning and highly unusual show of retaliation. In a written statement released less than 28 hours after Latham’s announcement, Pillsbury Winthrop Chairwoman Mary B. Cranston alleged Jensen’s departure came “on the heels of sexual harassment allegations involving Mr. Jensen and a significant decline in his productivity.” Latham then rescinded its offer to Jensen, who sued Pillsbury. Jensen and his former firm eventually settled the case for an undisclosed amount.

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