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Two Littler Mendelson partners have left the firm and joined an immigration attorney who was part of a group San Francisco-based Littler axed nearly a month ago. J. Roy Weathersby and Charles K. Howard formed Weathersby, Howard & Kuck with Charles H. Kuck, Littler’s only Atlanta-area immigration partner until he and five other attorneys in the firm’s immigration group were let go. Weathersby and Howard are labor and employment lawyers who represent privately held companies. Their clients, some of whom they’ve represented for 30 years or more, are “more sensitive to costs” than the large public companies in Littler’s client base, said Weathersby. Littler has nearly 400 attorneys in 29 U.S. offices. “In maintaining that large firm overhead, they’re going to have to charge much higher rates,” Weathersby added. Weathersby and Howard said their hourly rates for labor and employment work will be $20 to $40 lower at the new firm. Kuck, who will continue his immigration practice at the new firm, charges a flat fee and doesn’t bill by the hour, he said. But Cameron S. Pierce, Littler’s local managing partner, said his firm’s rates are competitive with the market for labor and employment services. Littler didn’t raise rates in 2002, and it hasn’t raised its highest rates in 2003. The rate adjustments for 2003 have been 5 percent or less, Pierce added. Littler’s local office has 16 lawyers, and the departures won’t have a significant impact, Pierce said. About a year ago, Weathersby and Howard began to consider leaving, they said. They decided to form their own shop before Littler jettisoned its immigration lawyers and asked Kuck to join them after hearing of the firm’s decision to dismiss him, they added. Weathersby founded Littler’s local office in 1996, and Howard joined in 1998. Weathersby worked at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart before he joined Littler and also was with Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy for 15 years. Howard, who served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in the late 1960s, was with the firms now known as Constangy Brooks & Smith and Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson before he joined Littler. Last month, Littler booted its immigration practice in favor of creating a joint venture with an Arizona immigration boutique. The joint venture, Littler Mendelson, Bacon & Dear, an Arizona limited liability corporation, is owned by Littler and Bacon & Dear. Later this month, the venture will replace Bacon & Dear.

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