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Don Liu, one of the Philadelphia region’s most visible in-house lawyers, has decided to leave his position as general counsel at IKON Office Solutions to join luxury home building giant Toll Bros. Liu will be replaced at IKON — where he was hired to build an in-house legal department six years ago — by one of his top deputies, Mark Hershey. Though the transition period at IKON is already underway, Liu is not scheduled to start his new position as vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer until April 11. He replaces longtime Toll Bros. general counsel Ken Gary, who recently left the company to accept a similar position at Beazer Homes in Atlanta. Liu said his departure has nothing to do with cost-cutting measures IKON management announced earlier this month that will result in the elimination of 1,500 jobs in North America and the closure of most of the firm’s operations in Mexico. “That had nothing to do with [my departure],” Liu said. “I would have stayed here if Toll Bros. wouldn’t have come along with such an excellent opportunity. The recent press reports overstated what is happening at IKON. We are just pruning some underperforming businesses. And it was just a coincidence that Toll Bros. came along when it did.” In addition to overseeing IKON’s legal and regulatory affairs, Liu also served as chairman of IKON’s diversity council, which promotes diversity within the company and the community at large. Liu is currently one of only two Asian-Americans who serve as general counsel of a Fortune 500 company. A member of the board of directors of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, Liu has used his position at IKON to pressure law firms to diversify their ranks. Five years ago, he was the recipient of the MCCA/American Lawyer Media Diversity 2000 Award, recognizing his efforts to promote diversity in the practice of law. Liu said people have asked him why he would leave a job he loves. He said while IKON, which produced $4.5 billion in revenue in 2004 compared to $4 billion for Toll Bros., was a great place to work, Toll Bros. will surpass the office supply giant’s revenues by the end of the next fiscal year. “It’s a terrific-performing company that excels at what it does,” Liu said. “I think it is the leading luxury home builder around and has an excellent national reputation. When they first called me, I thought I at least owed it to myself to meet Bob Toll and learn about the company. Well, we had a great first meeting and I was unbelievably impressed by Bob Toll.” Toll Bros. chairman and CEO Robert I. Toll said all of the executives at the company thought Liu was “fabulous.” He was selected over roughly a dozen other applicants. Liu, 43, resides in Lower Merion with his family and will now commute to the Toll Bros. headquarters in Horsham rather than IKON’s main offices in the Great Valley Corporate Center. In a note to friends and colleagues, Liu said he enjoyed every minute of his time at IKON. “I have decided to go into a different industry — from fixing copiers to building homes,” Liu joked. “[But] I do not want to hear about any defect at your home if you happen to be a Toll home owner.” Liu was born in Seoul, South Korea, before his parents, seeking to enhance their children’s educational opportunities, decided to move to Philadelphia in 1972. Unable to speak or understand a word of English, the 11-year-old was enrolled in the McCall School, which specializes in educating students learning English as a second language. His family soon moved to Cherry Hill, where he graduated from Cherry Hill West High School in 1979. He received an undergraduate degree from Haverford College in 1983 and a law degree from Columbia University in 1986. After clerking for a year for New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Stewart G. Pollock, Liu accepted a position as an associate in the corporate department at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York. After three years there, he spent another two at Richards & O’Neil before a call from a Philadelphia headhunter led him back to his adopted hometown. Liu joined U.S. Healthcare and only two months later became the chief deputy in the company’s in-house legal department. Liu said he handled litigation, transactional and regulatory matters for the company, and played a significant role in negotiating the terms of its sale to Aetna in 1996. Liu stayed with the newly merged company for three additional years until executives at IKON came knocking. They presented Liu with a risky, yet enticing and ultimately irresistible opportunity. He would get the chance, at age 37, to become general counsel of a Fortune 500 company and build an in-house legal department from scratch. Liu said up to that point in time, IKON had been outsourcing its legal work to Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll. “It was a risk, but I thought it would be fun,” Liu said. “And it was.” Liu quickly expanded the legal department to 10 lawyers and ultimately to its current staffing level of 14 — with three of those being located in England. Hershey was one of the initial hires, joining the company two months after Liu. At 36 years old, Hershey is even younger than Liu was when he became general counsel of the company. After graduating from Villanova University School of Law in 1994, Hershey spent five years as an associate in the corporate department at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions and technology law. During much of his time at IKON, Hershey has served as vice president of transactional law. According to the company’s succession plan, established by its executives and human resources department, Hershey was next in line to replace Liu. The two men have been planning the transition for the past several weeks. “From the time he started here, Don built a terrific and deep department of lawyers from scratch,” Hershey said. “And for that reason, this is bittersweet for me. We are all going to miss him. But this is why I left Stradley Ronon: for an opportunity to handle the business side of lawyering.” Coleman Legal Search’s Michael Coleman said it was his understanding that Hershey was Liu’s personal choice to replace him at IKON. Coleman said it is rare that a general counsel in the Delaware Valley would make a lateral move to another company in the region. “Don Liu has a major profile regionally and nationally,” Coleman said. “This is big news in the in-house world.”

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