Winston & Strawn appellate and critical motions partner Steffen Johnson was quoted in an article titled "Big Firms Litigate a Rift in the Episcopal Church" that was published in the February 1, 2008 issue The American Lawyer. The article discusses large law firm involvement in a multi-million dollar property dispute in the Episcopal church's Virginia diocese.
When 11 Episcopal congregations severed ties with the diocese in 2006, the diocese responded with a lawsuit claiming that breakaway congregations had to surrender all property and assets, which, according to church canon, are held in trust for the national church and do not belong to individual congregations.
"The congregations are entitled to the property they spent blood, sweat, and tears building and maintaining over the years," said Johnson, who is serving as lead counsel for the breakaway churches. "The notion that the Episcopal Church can claim ownership to all these properties that were built with the congregations' money is a bit much."