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Littler is getting bigger. Labor and employment firm Littler Mendelson is nearing a merger agreement with a 47-lawyer Cleveland labor and employment boutique, Duvin, Cahn & Hutton, according to the two firms. The combined firm would have 585 lawyers in 39 offices and could become one of the country’s 100 top-grossing law firms. “We’ve been looking hard to expand our reach by adding quality people,” said Marko Mrkonich, Littler president and managing partner. “We’ve been more concerned with quality people than geographic location, but when you’ve got that together with a good geographic location it’s a real hit.” The firms began informal merger talks in June and have become more serious in recent months, Mrkonich told The Recorder as he waited to board a plane for Cleveland to meet with Duvin lawyers. The agreement could be finalized by the first or second week of January, he said. Littler posted revenues of $199.5 million in 2005, making it the 104th top-grossing firm in the country, according to the annual AmLaw 200 survey. Mrkonich said the firm expects to post in excess of $225 million in 2006. A merger would also boost the firm’s reach in the Midwest � something the Minneapolis-based Mrkonich, the first Littler leader outside of California, has tried to do. “It’s a part of the country where we’ve worked hard to increase our presence,” he said. In Ohio, Littler already has a 15-lawyer Columbus office. The Cleveland addition would give the firm greater access to clients and courts in the northern part of the state, Mrkonich said. Duvin counts the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, the Cleveland Browns, the power company Dominion, and Continental Airlines among its clients. “We believe we’re the preeminent labor and employment boutique firm in this part of the country,” said Robert Wolff, Duvin’s managing partner. “Once we thought about merging, we wanted it to be with a preeminent national firm, and we believe Littler Mendelson is just that � it’s a very natural marriage.” Founded in San Francisco, Littler has grown into a national firm over the years while maintaining its focus on employment and labor law. The firm has added more than 100 lawyers since last year as well as new offices in Kansas City, Orange County and Fayetteville, Ark. Although a final agreement with Duvin has yet to be reached, Mrkonich said the name of the firm will remain the same. “The firm will be known as Littler Mendelson,” he said. “There have been no discussions to change that.”

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