Littler Mendelson has picked up a 10-attorney team of labor and employment lawyers from Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner in the Northeast.

Eight attorneys join the firm in New York – two as shareholders, two as special counsel, one as of counsel and three as associates. One special counsel joins the firm’s Newark, N.J., office, and one associate joins the firm in New Haven, Conn.

“We came to the conclusion that going back to a firm that does strictly labor and employment law is a better fit for us and our clients,” said outgoing partner Jean Schmidt. She and Joel Finger, who is also leaving for Littler, joined Brown Raysman in 2001 when it absorbed their firm, Roberts & Finger.

Schmidt said that the team’s clients include Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and Walgreens.

When San Francisco-based Thelen Reid & Priest merged with New York-based Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner in 2006, Schmidt said she, Finger and their team became Thelen’s only labor and employment attorneys in New York.

Littler has expanded significantly in the past few years, drawing more than 200 of its 705 attorneys in the last 18 months.

“Two things are happening simultaneously,” said president and managing director Marko Mrkonich. “We’re becoming more attractive, and the multi-practice firms are de-emphasizing labor and employment services.”

Littler opened its 45th office in Birmingham, Ala., last month. The firm will open another office in the next week, Mrkonich said.

Thelen has lost at least 40 attorneys since March 11, according to data gathered from the firm’s Web site. The firm laid off 26 associates and 85 staff on March 20.