Herrick, Feinstein’s hospitality chair is leaving the firm amid its merger talks with Crowell & Moring for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, which recently saw the co-head of its financial services regulation practice depart to start his own firm in three different cities.
Pillsbury announced on Jan. 3 its hire of Paul Shapses, a real estate law and finance expert and longtime Herrick partner, for its New York office. Shapses served as co-head of Herrick’s hotels and hospitality group.
“Paul has a wealth of experience on all sides—and through every cycle—of U.S. and international real estate deals,” said a statement by Pillsbury partner Robert Herr. “His diverse skill set and preeminent reputation make him a terrific fit for our broad and vibrant practice.”
Shapses, a former associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges who went on to co-found his own commercial real estate firm Shapiro, Shapses & Block, has spent the last 17 years as a Herrick partner handling the financing and acquisition of more than $12 billion in hotel and resort properties throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.
Over that time, Shapses has developed an extensive client base that includes Chinese, Taiwanese and Saudi Arabian clients, as well as local developers with a presence outside of New York City, something that was the primary motivation for his move to Pillsbury.
“The main thing was the platform,” Shapses said Wednesday. “Herrick is great for New York-centric development and real estate in general. What I was hoping to achieve by making a move was to take advantage of some of the relationships that I have outside the U.S. and leverage that into offices that Pillsbury has internationally.”
Pillsbury currently has six offices abroad in Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Shanghai and Tokyo. Herrick’s only international office is located at Turkey’s Trump Tower, reportedly a cause of concern for some at the firm in the current geopolitical climate.
Shapses’ departure from Herrick comes amid reports of a potential merger between the firm and Washington, D.C.-based Crowell & Moring. The American Lawyer reported last month that the two firms have been in talks for months about a potential combination, but that an announcement would not take place until 2017. (The American Lawyer reported last week on a notable lateral addition by Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C.)
Crowell & Moring, known for its government contracts work, is roughly three times as large as Herrick with about 440 lawyers. A merger between the two firms would create a combined entity with about 570 lawyers and $478 million in gross revenue.
Though he was contacted by a headhunter—who Shapses declined to name—before merger talks with Crowell & Moring began, the potential tie-up did cause him to pause and consider his opportunities elsewhere. Pillsbury, a firm that has had its own series of merger talks in recent years, was in the end too good to pass up.
“Having the Chinese, Hong Kong and Dubai presence is really what’s getting me excited about [Pillsbury],” said Shapses, adding that he hopes to develop and expand on clients in those markets.
Shapses joins Pillsbury’s Big Apple base as the firm recently saw the departure of several notable lawyers, some in New York. Senior partner William Kurz, leader of Pillsbury’s derivatives group, retired on Dec. 31. Pillsbury transportation finance partner Barry Biggar, who joined the firm’s New York office in mid-2015, also recently left the firm, as did senior counsel Herman Sassower, although their new positions were not immediately known.
Michael Halloran, a co-leader of Pillsbury’s financial services regulation practice in Washington, D.C., confirmed Wednesday that he had retired from the firm on Dec. 31 and set up his own shop called Halloran Farkas & Kittila. The firm has offices in the nation’s capital; Silicon Valley; Wilmington, Delaware; and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Halloran is based.
“It’s been a long-held desire and goal of mine to someday have my own firm with my own name at the head of it,” said Halloran, a former deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Other members of Halloran’s new firm include antitrust expert L. Peter Farkas, a former founding partner of Washington, D.C.’s Farkas + Toikka, and commercial litigator Theodore Kittila, a founder and managing partner of Wilmington’s Greenhill Law Group.