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Littler Mendelson’s Wendy Tice-Wallner is moving up from managing partner to chair the firm’s 19-member board of directors. Minneapolis-based Marko Mrkonich will succeed Tice-Wallner as MP. Tice-Wallner will replace Wesley Fastiff, who will become chair emeritus. Fastiff had been a name partner in the firm when it was known as Littler, Mendelson, Fastiff, Tichy & Mathiason. The appointment will be effective in April, when Tice-Wallner’s term ends. The firm limits its managing partners to a six-year term. Tice-Wallner, who became director in 1999, has overseen the growth of the firm from 351 to more than 415 attorneys and from 21 to 28 offices. In January, Littler opened its most recent outpost, a seven-attorney office in Boston. Tice-Wallner built “a culture of one firm instead of one office,” Mrkonich said. Her inclusiveness and having people work together “is probably her biggest legacy.” Tice-Wallner faces the task of replacing the beloved Fastiff. “I have complete confidence in Wendy Tice-Wallner that she can take on the job,” said Barbara de Oddone, a partner with Santa Rosa’s Dillingham & Murphy, who was at the firm from 1976-2003. “There’s nobody that can replace Wes Fastiff. He’s one of a kind.” Mrkonich has focused on discrimination and other employment litigation. Prior to joining Littler Mendelson in 1998, Mrkonich spent 17 years at Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly. At Littler Mendelson, he has served on the firm’s good business practices committee, associates committee and shareholder compensation committee. He also chaired the shareholder compensation review committee, authoring a new compensation structure. Mrkonich said the new system did not change the equity versus non-equity structure — the firm has a five-tier partnership — but sought to let lawyers know “if they did certain things, they would be paid more.” Mrkonich said he would like Littler Mendelson to continue to be a leading labor and employment firm, as well as “a leader in [law relating to] the global migration of workers.” Last year, Littler Mendelson formed a joint venture with an immigration boutique, Phoenix-based Bacon & Dear. The new entity, Littler Mendelson Bacon & Dear, replaced Littler Mendelson’s own national immigration practice group. While Bay Area firms generally choose chairs from their home office, Mrkonich does not expect his Minneapolis locale to be an issue. “Geographic location is important, but less important than the ability to do the job,” said Mrkonich, whose outpost includes 15 attorneys. Last year, Littler Mendelson lost a string of at least 18 partners. The American Lawyer magazine, a Recorder affiliate, reported at the time that former partners complained about the firm’s profitability and that it was run by only a few people. One partner cited the board of directors’ decision to ax its immigration group in favor of a joint venture. Littler was ranked as an AmLaw 100 firm until 2000, when it dropped to the Second Hundred. In 2003 it was ranked No. 109, with gross revenue of $173 million and profits per partner of $420,000. Senior Writer Brenda Sandburg’s e-mail address is [email protected].

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