Sheppard Mullin grabs complex litigation chair from Littler

February 24, 2016


By Joshua Sebold

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP is poaching the co-chair of Littler Mendelson PC’s complex litigation and jury trials practice group, Nancy E. Pritikin.

Pritikin, whose start date is Thursday, specializes in employment matters involving claims such as discrimination, wrongful termination, and sexual harassment.

The attorney, who will be based in Sheppard’s Palo Alto office, is no stranger to high-profile litigation. She defended the state Supreme Court in disability discrimination litigation and has represented United Airlines Inc. and Safeway Inc.

Pritikin most recently made headlines defending AutoZone Inc. in its battle against a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit brought by an employee. AutoZone lost at trial in what is currently considered the largest single plaintiff employment discrimination award in U.S. history, $185 million.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo, who presided over the jury trial, said in March the damages award had “no basis in rational evidence” and the parties subsequently settled under terms that have not been made public.

Pritikin said moving to a full-service firm made sense for her client base and Sheppard’s recent growth, especially in the labor and employment practice group, caught her eye.

“I’m really impressed with the entrepreneurial culture here in the Silicon Valley office,” she said.

The move reunites Pritikin with four former Littler colleagues who now work in Sheppard’s Bay Area offices, including Palo Alto managing partner Paul S. Cowie and Ron Holland, co-chair of the firm’s traditional labor law team.

“I went to trial with her five times in the calendar year before I left Littler,” Cowie said. “She’s a go-to trial lawyer, the person other lawyers call when a big case needs to be tried.”

Legal recruiter Larry Watanabe, who handled Pritikin’s move and previously guided Holland’s group to Sheppard, said the demand for top-level labor and employment partners is very high in Northern California.

“Nancy Pritikin is a highly sought after and well regarded labor and employment trial attorney,” Watanabe said. “Her trial experience for major national clients supersedes that of many and her arrival further evidences Sheppard Mullin’s continued commitment to … their labor and employment practice.”

Cowie said the firm has grown the office from three attorneys to 40 since launching it in 2008 and he expects to grow that roster to 50 by the end of the year.

“We thank Nancy for her contributions to the firm and wish her well as she pursues this next chapter of her career,” wrote Littler co-managing directors Thomas J. Bender and Jeremy A. Roth in an email.

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