The Legal 500

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

1540 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, NY 10036-4039, USA

United States

Top-tier recommendations


United States: Finance

Within Asset finance and leasing, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a third tier firm,

The ‘very knowledgeable, easy to work with and pragmatic’ team at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a ‘go-to’ choice and considered by banks and lessors to be ‘one of the best firms in the aviation business’. The team, which acts for a variety of lenders and airlines, works ‘in an excellent atmosphere’ and keeps ‘good relations with all parties in a transaction while remaining very firm regarding the key issues for the client’. Structured finance and leasing expert Mark Lessard jointly heads the ‘outstanding’ team with San Francisco-based Thomas Zimmer who recently joined the practice from Holland & Knight LLP. Recent highlights include advising Ethiopian Airlines on a $1.1bn financing of 11 aircraft in a deal supported by the US Ex-Im Bank. On the lender side, the firm represented BNP Paribas on a $635m note issue by Emerald Aviation Finance. ECA financing experts include Michael Schumaecker, who provides ‘experience, deep knowledge and creative solutions’ and Charlotta Otterbeck , who is commended for ‘her thorough work and excellent memory of past transactions’. William Bowers is singled out for his capital markets expertise. The firm was also boosted by the recruitment of structured finance and capital markets expert Peter Morgan from Dentons. Named attorneys are based in New York except where stated.

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Within Corporate restructuring (including bankruptcy), tier 6

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLPhas a deep bench for bankruptcy work’ and ‘represents sophisticated clients in important roles in insolvency cases’. San Francisco-based David Minnick heads a team that is praised for its ‘very reasoned, hands-on approach’ and includes the ‘deeply insightful and analytical’ Leo Crowley in New York. Deryck Palmer is also recommended and is advising Berger Group Holdings Inc on aspects of its $1.1bn out-of-court restructuring plan.

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Within Project finance, tier 5

While particularly known for its nuclear practice, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is active across a broad spectrum of major energy projects including gas, hydro, coal and renewables. The 20-partner team has broad national coverage, and additionally, strong international capabilities; it is increasingly active in projects in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Past clients have included Chevron, AES Solar and WestPac Energy. The Washington DC office advised Akkuyu NPP JSC on the construction of a nuclear power plant in Turkey, one of the largest global nuclear power projects currently underway. New York-based Michael Reese is advising Tenaska on financing issues relating to two solar projects in California’s Imperial Valley, and he also advised Marubeni Corporation on its investment in the multibillion-dollar Atlantic Wind Connection project to build an underwater transmission line along the Atlantic Seaboard; the high-profile scheme is the first of its kind, with four planned tie lines to the US mainland designed to support the development of offshore wind farms. San Francisco-based George Haley, New York-based Jane Stein and Houston-based John Mauel co-head the practice.

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United States: Industry focus

Within Environment: litigation, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a third tier firm,

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s ‘service is excellent in both quality and timeliness’, and the practice has ‘a sophisticated understanding’ of complex industries. Its large team acts for an extensive client base, ranging from trade associations and oil companies to real estate developers, and managed a heavy caseload throughout 2013. It was retained by MOEX Offshore to develop a strategy to handle all the liabilities relating to the company’s 10% use of the lease block located in the area in which the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion occurred. The firm is also representing the City of Rialto in California in litigation to obtain compensation and remediation for historical contamination of its municipal groundwater supply by numerous responsible parties; the extensive litigation involves negotiations across local, state and federal agencies. The firm also acts as principal outside counsel for Chevron on a multitude of matters relating to potential environmental liabilities across its portfolio of energy operations. Houston and Los Angeles-based Christopher McNevin was recently appointed national head of the firm’s environmental group, which has ‘a deep bench of expertise’. Jerry Ross in Houston is recommended for mediations, and John Hansen in San Francisco is ‘exceptionally strong on California environmental law’.

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United States: Intellectual property

Within Patent licensing and transactional, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a third tier firm,

The lawyers at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP win plaudits for their ‘exemplary service’, and ‘very strong industry knowledge and experience’. In particular, firm-wide IP practice head Jack Barufka (based in McLean) has been handling IP matters for over 20 years and has acted for numerous Fortune 500 companies. Work highlights saw Jim Gatto (also in McLean) advise Lenovo Group on the IP aspects of its partnership with EMC, and Palo Alto’s David Jakopin act for Sigma Designs on the IP issues surrounding the client’s purchase of Trident’s digital television business. In 2013, the team expanded through a series of lateral hires; at partner level, Steven Moore joined the San Diego office from Goodwin Procter LLP and Qian Huang joined the Washington DC office from Dentons. Recent departures saw Duane Mathiowetz leave for Schiff Hardin LLP and James Cady move to Hogan Lovells.

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Within Patent prosecution: utility and design patents, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a third tier firm,

Jack Barufka heads a 100-attorney practice at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP which is ‘very knowledgeable about patent processes, and extremely responsive’. The core of the IP practice is in the Maclean office, but the firm has a national footprint across a wide range of sectors including mechanical engineering, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. James Gatto has expertise in social media, entertainment and technology. San Diego based Benjamin Esplin is ‘particularly good’, with in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and Silicon Valley-based David Jakopin is also recommended. This firm’s impressive client base includes AOL, Intel and Chevron.

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Within Trademarks: litigation, tier 5

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s team provides ‘responsive and well-informed service’ on trademark litigation matters, with representative clients including Intel, Walt Disney, Raytheon and Stanley Black & Decker. In Los Angeles, Bobby Ghajar has previously won an $8.6m damages award and reversal of a lower court decision for plaintiff Spin Master in its trademark infringement case against Zobmondo!! Entertainment LLC, with a Ninth Circuit appeal finding that the term ‘Would You Rather…?’ was valid. Mark Litvack has acted for AOL as defendant to a trademark dispute brought by Augme Technologies regarding use of the Boombox trademark.

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United States: Investment fund formation and management

Within Alternative/hedge funds Leading lawyers

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Within Real estate investment trusts (REITs), Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a third tier firm,

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s impressively wide-ranging practice covers public offerings, M&A, tax, and specialist structures such as DownREITs. Co-head Robert Robbins acted on a variety of transactional mandates, including a major REIT on the disposal of its portfolio of entities and properties. Fellow co-head Jeffrey Grill’s capital markets expertise saw him advise a variety of underwriters and issuers on offerings, including three totalling nearly $1bn for the same client. M&A highlights included advising Goff Capital on its joint venture with Barclays Capital to acquire Crescent Real Estate Equities from Morgan Stanley.

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United States: Labor and employment

Within Employee benefits and executive compensation, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a third tier firm,

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP provides ‘expert knowledge and legal advice’ and has a ‘service-oriented’ team. The firm advised Tesoro on its $2.5bn acquisition of BP’s integrated refining and marketing business in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona. For Mission West Properties Inc, it handled all EBEC issues relating to its $1.3bn asset and real property sale to TPG Capital. Other clients include McKesson Technology Solutions, Cortec Group and IMS Health. Susan Serota leads the EBEC team, which includes Scott Landau (‘an excellent specialist in executive compensation’), Peter Hunt, Cindy Schlaefer in Silicon Valley, and Christine Richardson in San Francisco. The team ‘strives to solve problems, not just identify issues’. Named attorneys are based in New York unless specified.

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United States: Litigation

Within International trade Leading lawyers

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Within White-collar criminal defense, tier 6

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP continues to play an active role in major white-collar investigations, maintaining an active practice in FCPA, securities fraud and False Claims Act cases, while also taking on an increasing number of mandates in criminal tax and antitrust. In New York, Mark Hellerer has been particularly busy handling securities fraud investigations, with recent instructions coming from a hedge fund manager, a telecoms company and an individual based in Taiwan. Particular praise is leveled at William Sullivan in Washington DC for his ‘strong advocacy skills’ as well as his ‘credibility and experience’, which carry ‘tremendous weight when dealing with government regulators and enforcement attorneys’. He and Derek Andreson are entrusted by individuals and companies targeted in federal investigations where a negative outcome means heavy fines, individual indictment or reputational damage. Also in the Washington DC office is Thomas Hill; lauded as an ‘absolutely first-rate lawyer’, he acts for government contractors, nuclear energy companies and healthcare organizations. The name to note in San Francisco is Marc Axelbaum; his ‘suberb industry knowledge’, ‘diligence’ and ‘intelligence’ earn him particular praise from clients.

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United States: Media, technology and telecoms

Within Cyber crime, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a first tier firm,

In 2013, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s launched its cybersecurity task force. Led by Deborah Thoren-Peden and senior counsel Catherine Meyer in Los Angeles, the group assists with data privacy and security issues affecting various different industries, including financial services, communications, healthcare, technology, and energy and utilities. Clients range from privately held start-ups to publicly traded global conglomerates on everything from regulatory compliance assessments to the aftermath of cyberattacks and obtaining cyber-insurance coverage. Joseph Tiffany, Meyer and Rene Siemens advised CBR Systems Inc, the world’s largest cord blood banking company, following the theft of information on approximately 200,000 clients; the mandate included incident response, disclosure requirements, cyber insurance coverage issues and representing it in a two-year FTC investigation and class-action litigation. In Washington DC, Joseph Kendall is advising Health Net Inc following a data security breach that allegedly compromised 1.9 million customers; it is now advising the client on cyber-insurance coverage for the potentially nearly $2bn damage claim against it, as well as cross-claims against IBM and indemnification.

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Within Technology: data protection and privacy, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a second tier firm,

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s highly skilled practitioners’ have a ‘broad base of experience’ and regularly advise multinational clients on data privacy, data collection and information management. In particular, the team focuses on big data, bring your own device (BYOD), cloud computing and cybersecurity. Deborah Thoren-Peden in Los Angeles heads the group; she is currently advising Blackhawk Network on compliance with national and international regulations. Thoren-Peden and financial privacy expert Catherine Meyer are advising numerous retailers on privacy policies and compliance relating to the collection of customer data. Rene Siemens is assisting Health Net with issues arising from a data security breach including cyber insurance coverage for potential damage claims, cross-claims against and indemnification. NetSpend is another longstanding client. In New York, Joshua Konvisser wins praise for his work on outsourcing, e-discovery and BYOD. The team includes health information technology experts Gerry Hinkley and Allen Briskin in San Francisco.

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Within Technology: outsourcing, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a first tier firm,

Aaron Oser, who leads Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s 13-partner outsourcing practice from Washington DC, ‘combines excellent legal acumen with consulting expertise’. The group’s unique offering includes patented tools and methodologies, and the broad skillset of its multi-disciplinary team enables it to handle multiple big-ticket deals for clients in healthcare, financial services and retail. It focuses on the customer side, guiding major organizations through business-critical infrastructure ITO and BPO arrangements. Brian Bodor, ‘a top lawyer and great sparring partner to bounce ideas off’, is assisting a large international financial institution on the global outsourcing of its managed network services and its transport services to a single supplier. He was recently selected to handle a large-scale outsourcing on behalf of a US municipality. Michael Steinig is ‘intelligent, easy to work with, and goes out of his way to get a deal done’. Joshua Konvisser is advising a global brand on its data center and telecoms and is assisting a non-profit healthcare alliance with a major cloud hosting and BPO project. Joseph Kendall who focuses on healthcare outsourcing, is recommended for his ‘outstanding industry knowledge and responsiveness’. Benjamin Dean has ‘impressive knowledge of technical matters coupled with excellent writing and negotiating skills’. Jeffrey Hutchings is ‘great at working with vendors to achieve the best outcome’. The group is particularly strong in the financial services sector, with former practice head James Alberg advising a high-profile mortgage lender on outsourcing for business continuity. Additionally, Oser and his team are assisting a global bank with a comprehensive ITO project. Fellow Washington DC attorney Robert Zahler is also well-respected by the market. In San Francisco, Michael Murphy is advising Fremont Bank on compliance-related outsourcing, assisting Tesoro Corporation with its acquisition of BP’s petroleum assets in California, and advising PG&E on smart grid contracting issues and energy-efficient financing programs. In New York, Elizabeth Zimmer is assisting a major publisher with a full-scope ITO transaction and colocation services deal.

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Within Telecoms and broadcast: regulatory, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a third tier firm,

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s practice is led by Glenn Richards, ‘a master of common carrier regulation’. It handles broadcast, satellite and telecoms work, providing regulatory support in large-scale transactions and handling FCC compliance matters. The ‘highly analytical’ Bruce Jacobs is principal outside regulatory counsel to LightSquared. The ‘incredibly strategic’ John Hane assisted NewSat with a complex $600m satellite broadband project and, together with well-respected broadcast specialist Clifford Harrington, is assisting key firm client Sinclair Broadcast Group with its efforts to drive forward the adoption of a new technical standard for American broadcasting. Additionally, Harrington is representing the same client, along with LIN Media, with regards to the FCC’s spectrum reallocation plan and the planned incentive auctions, and has also been advising Sinclair Broadcasting Group on FCC and other regulatory aspects of numerous acquisitions, including most recently its $985m acquisition of Perpetual Corporation, the parent company of The Allbritton Communications Company. Scott Flick handled the regulatory elements of the $1bn merger between New Young Broadcasting Holding Co and Media General to create a top ten broadcast group.

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United States: Mergers, acquisitions and buyouts

Within Antitrust, tier 5

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP fields an ‘excellent’, ‘business-savvy’ antitrust team with ‘good depth’. The group, led by Roxane Polidora in San Francisco, specializes in contentious matters, and handles major industry-wide class actions, criminal grand jury and civil antitrust investigations, patent litigation and merger disputes with government agencies. Terrence Callan, a ‘senior statesman for the antitrust defense bar in San Francisco’, is representing Sanofi-Aventis (formerly Rhône-Poulenc Rorer) in litigation against a number of opt-out plaintiffs alleging that manufacturers of brand-name drugs offered discounts and rebates to selected purchasers. Michael Sibarium, a ‘terrific antitrust lawyer’ with ‘counselling and litigation skills’, defended Headwaters Resources in proceedings brought by Big River Industries regarding the distribution rights of fly ash from a major utility plant. William Sullivan is the key contact for criminal antitrust law matters; his ‘experience as a former prosecutor is a great asset in the white-collar area’. Both Sullivan and Sibarium are located in Washington DC. Also recommended are the Silicon Valley-based Joseph Tiffany and, in San Francisco, the ‘outstanding’ Jacob Sorensen and ‘very bright and well-prepared’ Michael Kass.

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Within M&A: middle-market (sub-$500m), Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a second tier firm,

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s lawyers provide ‘peerless support and advice for bargain prices’, acting in matters ranging in size from small and middle-market deals to high-profile multibillion-dollar transactions. The team acted for Bonded Services Group (UK) and Bonded Services of America (US), portfolio companies of private equity firm The Wicks Group of Companies, along with co-sponsor AEP Capital, in multiple add-on acquisitions in the US and the UK; advised AGS on the disposition of gravure packaging assets, consisting of manufacturing equipment and related customer contracts, to Amcor; and acted for Sigma Designs on the purchase of assets constituting the digital television business of Trident Microsystems. Large deal mandates included acting for Mission West Properties, a publicly traded REIT, on its $1.3bn asset and real property sale to TPG Capital, a partnership between DivcoWest and affiliates of TPG Real Estate; and acting for Nicira, a software defined networking technology company, on its $1.26bn acquisition by Vmware. Washington DC-based firm-wide practice head Robert Robbins and Washington DC and New York-based Christopher Zochowski are recommended. James Kelly in New York is a ‘thought leader in middle-market M&A. He knows the market, has fantastic deal-making instincts, and employs an excellent team of specialists’. San Diego and London-based David Snyder and Silicon Valley-based Jorge del Calvo also attract praise.

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Within Venture capital and emerging companies, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a third tier firm,

The team at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is ‘excellent’ as it ‘understands the business problem’, ‘performs above expectations’ and ‘highlights the issues that actually matter’. One commenter describes it as the ‘best in the San Francisco technology scene’. The firm recently advised InnFocus Inc on its $13m Series B financing and advised Clinkle on its $25m seed round of financing. Other clients include Accellion Inc, Apigee, Bia Sport, Biogen Idec, Breaktime Studios, Group Commerce, Mitsui & Co Global Investment, Tilera Corporation and 10gen. The firm is known primarily for its strength on the West Coast (Silicon Valley and San Diego) but has genuine credibility in Northern Virginia and New York, as well as in Europe and Asia. Key partners include Silicon Valley’s Stanley Pierson, Jorge Del Calvo and Tom Thomas, who is ‘absolutely exemplary’, a ‘brilliant attorney’, and ‘deeply knowledgeable’. Michael Sullivan and Justin Hovey in San Francisco are also key names, the latter has the ability to ‘get to the root of the issue incredibly quickly’. San Diego’s Christian Salaman is also recommended.

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United States: Real estate and construction

Within Construction, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a second tier firm,

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP fields 18 dedicated partners handling dispute resolution and a growing number of transactional matters across its domestic network of offices, and is also experiencing a growth in the number of foreign investors taking part in domestic infrastructure projects thanks to its Asia offices. It is also able to capitalize on the firm’s growing energy practice, a healthy real estate group, and its construction, government contracting and PPP expertise. Dispute resolution expert John Heisse (‘a terrific lawyer and the author of an indispensable treatise on design build contracting’) leads the practice out of San Francisco, while Washington DC-based Jeffrey Gans was appointed the head of the PPP practice, which focuses on infrastructure and public facility building projects. Also in Washington DC, David Dekker specializes in litigation and dispute resolution, and assists policy holder clients with construction-related insurance recovery matters. The firm is representing Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Services in an ICC arbitration initiated by Southern California Edison relating to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Other clients include the University of California and Hunt Construction Group.

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Within Land use/zoning, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a second tier firm,

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP represents a diverse client base in all facets of land use and development matters, with particular clout in the San Francisco area. Practice head Robert Herr and his team are currently advising Shorenstein Properties on the $300m renovation of Market Square, a 1.3m square foot office complex in San Francisco. Other representative clients include Allianz USA, Barrett Block Partners and Los Angeles Unified School District. Gregg Miller left the firm in December 2013 to join Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass.

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Within Real estate, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is a third tier firm,

Based across offices in New York, Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Texas, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s 24-partner team is ‘efficient, responsive and knowledgeable’. Key highlights included advising Tishman Speyer on multiple complex leasing transactions, acting for JDS Development Group on a $172m joint venture land acquisition in New York and acting for Triple Five Worldwide on the development of the American Dream Meadowlands, a $3.6bn retail and entertainment project in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It also advised SBE Entertainment Group on a number of activities involving high-end real estate matters. Other key clients include Los Angeles Unified School District and Fifth Street Properties, an LLC partnership between CalPERS and CommonWealth Partners. Department head Robert Herr in San Francisco is ‘business orientated’ and ‘very knowledgeable’. Laura Hannusch, who heads the real estate team in Texas, is rated as ‘technically excellent’ and Marc Shapiro, who leads the New York team is ‘first rate’. Senior partner Fredrick Minnes is also recommended Gregg Miller recently joined Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass and Diane Shapiro Richer joined Ober Kaler.

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United States: Tax

Within Domestic tax: East Coast, tier 7

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s East Coast practice focuses on transactional tax work. The team is led by Harsha Reddy in New York, and advises a diverse client base including private equity funds, financial institutions, traditional and alternative energy companies, and established and emerging technology companies. Also in New York, Hugh Dougan specializes in corporate and partnership tax and project finance. Recent work includes assisting CA Technologies on an accelerated share repurchase program.

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Within Domestic tax: West Coast, tier 4

In California, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP has 23 tax partners, and a further five in its estates, trusts and tax planning practice. Jeffrey Vesely, in San Francisco, heads the firm’s SALT practice, and counts among his recent achievements a 90% reduction of a $37m tax bill for a high-net-worth individual involved in a tax-related residency dispute. Also in San Francisco, Julia Divola works on numerous high-profile M&A transactions, and is noted for her ‘dedication, technical expertise, responsiveness, and breadth of knowledge’; and William Bonano handles much of the firm’s federal controversy and international tax work. Dana Newman in Los Angeles focuses on corporate partnerships and real estate tax. Brian Wainwright is the local office head in Silicon Valley.

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Within Tax controversy, tier 5

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s team includes a number of partners with governmental experience, adding to its depth of understanding of tax authorities and the industry. New York-based James Chudy heads the firm’s nationwide tax practice, which includes tax controversy partners based in New York and California, with the SALT team working out of San Francisco. Jeffrey Vesely heads the SALT team, and worked alongside Annie Huang in the successful representation of a high-net-worth individual in a tax dispute relating to residency, resulting in a 90% reduction of a $37m tax bill. Also in San Francisco, William Bonano focuses on international tax matters and has extensive controversy experience, and Kerne Matsubara is developing a very strong SALT controversy practice.

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