A dissident investor's candidate has joined the board at First Financial Northwest (FFNW) in Renton, Wash., ending a costly legal dispute.

Kevin Padrick joined the board of $943 million-asset company on March 14, the company said Friday. Padrick is a senior principal at Obsidian Finance Group in Oregon. He will sit on First Financial's nominating and corporate governance and compensation committees, the release said.

The approval marks an end to First Financial Northwest's legal dispute with the Stilwell Group, which owns just under 10% of the company shares. The Stilwell Group had sought to invalidate the results of a June proxy vote in which Victor Karpiak became chairman of the board, defeating Stilwell's preferred candidate, Spencer Schneider, on a technicality. The two sides settled in December. In January, Stilwell replaced Schneider with Padrick as its preferred board candidate.

As part of the settlement, Karpiak will resign his chairmanship at the board meeting on March 20 and be succeeded by Gary Kohlwes. Karpiak will remain the company's president and chief executive. Kohlwes has served on First Financial's board since its inception in 2007, and has been a director of its banking unit since 1977.

In addition, director M. Scott Gaspard will resign from the boards of First Financial and its bank on March 20, the company said. He has been a director since January 2012 and is resigning to pursue other interests, the release said.

"We would like to take this opportunity to welcome Mr. Padrick to the board of directors," said Karpiak. "He has extensive business and legal experience that will be beneficial to the board in its analysis and implementation of the company's business strategies."

First Financial's dispute with the Stilwell Group proved costly to shareholders, as it spent $868,000 on legal fees related to the proxy election.

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