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    December 19, 2007  
 
 

What's Up at Pillsbury?
Quick Questions for Maureen Dwyer, DC Managing Partner


 

Seems like just yesterday California firm Pillsbury Winthrop merged with DC powerhouse Shaw Pittman.  Yet the third anniversary approaches. We sat down with DC managing partner Maureen Dwyer to check in on the marriage and the firm's outlook for 2008.

 

Maureen has been the MP of the DC office since the merger became effective April 4, 2005.? It was originally scheduled for April 1st but the firms feared it would be taken as an April Fool's joke.

 

What was the rationale for the merger?
Pillsbury had a very small DC office but was strong on the West Coast and in NY.  Shaw Pittman had large DC and Northern Virginia offices. ? So creating a major presence on both coasts was a driver in addition to combining overseas offices. ?The two firms also shared many complementary practice strengths, particularly energyreal estate, banking & finance, corporate & securities, technology & intellectual property. 

How long did the integration take?
Almost 18 months to fully complete not only the people and practice integration but also all the new systems.  Some practices integrated more quickly than others.

 

A real estate zoning and land use attorney, Maureen is representing Bozzuto in an apartment project on New York Avenue and 5th St., NW, among many clients.? She also has a concentration in higher education and represents property interests of several local universities, including Georgetown, GW, American, and Trinity.

 

What practice sections are represented here?
The biggest are real estate and energy, but we also have lawyers practicing tax, public policy, global sourcing, litigation, international trade, communications, corporate and securities, and others.

We keep hearing about a possible economic slowdown in?'08.  What practices would offset a drop-off in corporate work?
Our energy practice is booming as there is a nuclear renaissance occurring.  Dominion Energy is a big client, for example.  Many in our public policy practice are involved in the political campaign process, and there will be a lot of work on the Hill as a new administration and Congress come in.  Our IP group is very optimistic about '08.? We are finally seeing climate change as an emerging practice area that will boost our energy, environment and public policy groups. 

 

Even if the economy slows in '08, Maureen expects the firm to keep hiring new associates at the same pace.  David Avitabile is a rising star in the firm's real estate practice, and judging by the pile of papers we saw on his desk is not experiencing any decline in work.

 

What do you expect will slow down?
Real estate could slow, but our zoning and historic preservation practices continue to be very busy.  And corporate and litigation will likely slow as well if there is a recession.  Our lawyers are experienced in repositioning their practices when times are slow.  

Will a slowdown affect your hiring plans?
No, we'll continue to recruit new associates as well as laterals.  We don't want to get caught understaffed when things pick back up.  So the pressure will be on us to bring in business.

What are your growth plans?
We're committed to growing all practices in all office.  We'd like to increase our headcount by 5% or so each year which means we have to attract 10% in new hires, knowing that we'll likely lose some along the way.  We've brought in 8 lateral partners over the past 6 months and many more counsel and associates. 

How do you divide time between management and practice?
30%
management and 70% practice. 

What are your key management responsibilities?
In short, keeping everyone in this office happy and feeling that they're part of the larger firm.  That means everything from space planning to communicating firm policy, as well as partner meetings and special programs including our diversity and women's initiatives and community outreach events.  

 
 
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