(Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)
Vidal, who is a board member at ChIPs, an organization that works to further the cause of women in technology law, has now seen those efforts come to fruition. Shortly before Labor Day, Winston & Strawn welcomed two more female intellectual property litigators to its ranks in California.
Esha Bandyopadhyay, who joined Winston & Strawn from Redwood City, California-based IP boutique Turner Boyd, will be a partner at the firm and head of its litigation group in nearby Menlo Park. Meanwhile, Kirkland & Ellis partner Nimalka Wickramasekera has joined Winston & Strawn in Los Angeles.
Wickramasekera and Bandyopadhyay had built a medical device practice together at Kirkland before Bandyopadhyay left the firm for Turner Boyd in 2014, a move that Bandyopadhyay said stemmed from wanting to have more of a sense of ownership over her firm. Both litigators said their interest in Winston & Strawn was piqued by the news of Vidal’s arrival in April after 20 years at Fish & Richardson.
“I was intrigued, because I truly felt that Kathi would have stayed at Fish forever, and if Winston was able to get Kathi to leave Fish there had to be something special about the place,” said Bandyopadhyay (pictured right).
After Bandyopadhyay reached out to Vidal and spoke with other lawyers at the firm, she felt that while Winston & Strawn might provide the platform and have the resources of a large firm, it had also “somehow figured out how to retain a lot of what was appealing to me about a smaller place,” including mentorship and the involvement of younger lawyers in firm leadership.
Wickramasekera also reached out to Vidal after hearing about her new role at Winston & Strawn. She had been on the other side of the table from Fish & Richardson’s IP litigators many times over the years, and though she didn’t know Vidal well personally, “I knew the caliber of attorney she must be,” she said.
Their initial meeting almost went overtime because both were so enthusiastic, Wickramasekera said. Though she didn’t have any complaints about Kirkland, she came away from the conversation feeling excited about Winston & Strawn’s growth on the West Coast and the opportunity to work with a first-chair female trial lawyer.
Despite having enjoyed working together previously, Bandyopadhyay and Wickramasekera did not coordinate their moves, both said. Finding out that Bandyopadhyay was also interviewing with Winston & Strawn reinforced Wickramasekera’s belief that the firm was genuinely committed to hiring a diverse team in California.
“I found out that Esha was being wooed by Winston when Kathi was standing next to me at a cocktail reception and showed me her phone and it had Esha’s name in there,” said Wickramasekera (pictured right). “I almost squealed.”
Earlier this year, Winston & Strawn brought on patent litigation partner Michael Ruckheim, who followed Vidal from Fish & Richardson along with two associates. At the same time, Winston & Strawn also relocated corporate finance partner John Albers and litigator Keiyana Fordham to Silicon Valley from Chicago and Newark, New Jersey, respectively.
Winston & Strawn’s hiring spree has watched it add nine former partners from Chadbourne & Parke last month in the aftermath of the latter’s combination with Norton Rose Fulbright and bolt on a nine-partner team from McDermott Will & Emery in July. Winston & Strawn also entered the Dallas market earlier this year by adding 26 partners from nine different firms in the city.
The firm has also restructured some of its operations, shuttering offices in Beijing and Taipei, and watching a public finance group join Katten Muchin Rosenman. Winston & Strawn’s gross revenue was mostly flat in 2016, at $823 million, but that figure could rise this year.
Dan Webb, the firm’s co-executive chairman and one of The American Lawyer’s new Lifetime Achievers, helped secure for client Beef Products Inc. this summer a settlement of at least $177 million against The Walt Disney Co. over an ABC News report describing “pink slime” in ground beef.