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After more than 18 years as a partner at Pepper Hamilton specializing in employee benefits consulting and benefits litigation, Susan Katz Hoffman has joined Littler Mendelson’s Philadelphia office. She is the sixth shareholder at the now-16-attorney office. Hoffman said she had not been looking to leave Pepper Hamilton, but the opportunity to spend the rest of her career at a firm with more than 500 employment lawyers was too exciting to pass up. According to sources in the legal community, Hoffman is known nationally for her work in employee benefits consulting and litigation. She has been chairwoman of a number of committees for the American Bar Association and is currently chairwoman of the fiduciary subcommittee of the employee benefits committee for the ABA’s taxation section. Hoffman’s aim will be to create for Littler Mendelson a national practice in employee benefits consulting and litigation. Littler Mendelson is already well-established in employee law. In September, Employment Law 360, a newswire for labor and employment law, ranked Littler Mendelson No. 1 in employment litigation. The newswire determined the ranking based on the number of employment law cases retained. Hoffman said she is interested in merging the tax and labor approaches to employee benefits law. “Tax lawyers use a corporate finance perspective and people who create and run employee benefit plans are coming from the human resources world. I want to consolidate those approaches,” Hoffman said. The product, Hoffman said, will be a seamless source of advice to clients. “We want to be to employee benefits what Littler Mendelson already is to employment law,” Hoffman said. Littler Mendelson has been growing recently, having added seven new offices in the United States and an office in Shanghai, China, in the past year. None of the new U.S. offices are in Pennsylvania. Still, Tom Bender, managing partner of Littler Mendelson’s Philadelphia office, said he sees Hoffman’s hiring as a key part of the firm’s growth. “She’s an important piece to the puzzle,” Bender said. “We see it as a big plus for us.” Frank D’Amore of Attorney Career Catalysts agreed. “Susan is very well-respected. She has a good practice – though not a traditional practice – and she is a good addition for them,” D’Amore said. Hoffman said she is bringing most of her major clients to her practice at Littler Mendelson, including Pepco Holdings Inc., and Tarkette, an international flooring company. And Hoffman will continue to work with Pepper Hamilton. “We’re partnering in a couple of cases that are ongoing, so it’s not a total goodbye,” Hoffman said. Pepper Hamilton is not expecting its employee benefits practice to be hurt by Hoffman’s departure, but Heideck said the firm is sad to see Hoffman leave. “We didn’t want her to go, but she made what appeared to her to be a move where she could do more of the work that she most enjoys. . . . We’ll miss her and we wish her well,” said Pepper Hamilton’s executive partner Robert Heideck. Saul Ewing partner Robert Louis, who has extensive experience with benefits plans, said Hoffman’s move should not greatly affect Pepper Hamilton’s employee benefits practice. Louis has been acquainted with Hoffman for a number of years, he said. “When someone of that caliber leaves it’s always a loss, but they still have many good people there,” Louis said. Joel Horowitz, a former colleague of Hoffman’s from Pepper Hamilton who is now a partner at McCarter English, did not see Hoffman’s move as a negative reflection on Pepper Hamilton. Horowitz has known Hoffman for about 25 years, and worked with her directly at Pepper Hamilton for about 10. “There is no question that Pepper Hamilton has a terrific benefits practice and it will continue to be strong,” Horowitz said. Horowitz said though he and Hoffman had left Pepper Hamilton, he didn’t see any kind of trend developing. He said each of them was presented with an opportunity they were enthusiastic about and decided to take it. And at this point, Hoffman said she plans to finish her career at Littler Mendelson. “My next move after this is to a beach,” she said jokingly.

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