Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman's Washington, D.C. offices at 1200 17th St. NW.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s Washington, D.C. offices at 1200 17th St. NW. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ)

Keller Sloan Roman, a San Francisco-based litigation boutique founded in 1998, is poised to close its doors as managing partner Kenneth Keller joins Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Keller co-founded Keller Sloan Roman with fellow name partners Stanley Roman and Thomas Sloan Jr., all of whom were fleeing now-defunct San Francisco firm Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon. Keller, an intellectual property litigator, will take special counsel Christopher Stretch with him to Pillsbury Winthrop.

In the wake of Keller and Stretch’s departure, Roman and Sloan plan to either scale back their practices ore move on to other firms, Keller said Thursday. Though Keller said he enjoyed “a great deal of success” at Keller Sloan Roman, in recent years, he had been hearing from clients that they had needs his small firm wasn’t equipped to serve.

As Keller began looking for a firm that could provide him with more resources, Pillsbury Winthrop stood out as a place where he felt his trial experience would be valued.

“I was incredibly impressed with what they’re doing now, growing out their IP litigation [group] here in San Francisco,” Keller said. “They really are developing their reputation for trial work, which I think is somewhat unique amongst the big firms.”

Trial work has long made up the bulk of Keller’s practice. He tried the first case to verdict under the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act, a landmark 1984 federal law that made it illegal to copy the design of a registered semiconductor chip. His clients have also included a hybrid pineapple grower, a company producing virtual horses in the online role-playing game Second Life and the fashion brands Chanel, Gucci & Tiffany & Co.

In a statement prepared by Pillsbury Winthrop, litigation partner and firm chair David Dekker said that Keller’s hiring “further enhances our standing as a go-to trial firm that takes cases to verdict and wins them.”

“[Keller’s] experience as a first chair trial attorney adds substantial heft to our 200-lawyer litigation team and complements our industry leading trademark and copyright practice in San Francisco,” Dekker said.

Stretch, the Keller Sloan Roman special counsel headed to Pillsbury Winthrop with Keller, is also a litigator. He has represented Facebook Inc. in patent matters and defended Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in its IP battles with Apple Inc. Prior to joining his now former firm in 2013, Stretch was of counsel with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

While Pillsbury Winthrop saw its former Silicon Valley office leader leave in May, that same month the firm hired IP partners James Conley and Howard Wisnia from Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo in San Diego. In March, Pillsbury Winthrop picked up Greenberg Traurig commercial litigation partner David Lisi in Palo Alto, California.

Earlier this week, Pillsbury Winthrop also brought on Boies Schiller Flexner litigation and white-collar defense partner Markenzy Lapointe in Miami, where the former firm opened an office in February after adding six other Boies Schiller Flexner lawyers. In late July, Pillsbury Winthrop also welcomed Reed Smith labor and employment partner Jean Kuei in Washington, D.C., and former University of Texas System general counsel Barry Burgdorf to its ranks in Texas.