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Three employment law alliances have expanded in the past month in response to the increasing effect of globalisation on labour law.
Established network Ius Laboris added Hungarian full-service firm CLV Partners to its membership at the start of October. The Employment Law Alliance (ELA) followed with the addition of Belgian firm Lydian and France’s Fromont Briens.
Meanwhile, fast-growing alliance L&E Global continued its expansion with new firms Natividad Abogados from Mexico and Australia’s Harmers Workplace Lawyers.
Natividad and Harmers bring the number of firms that are members of L&E Global to 12, up from the six outfits that founded the alliance in January.
Lydian managing partner Jan Hofkens said an increasing number of international instructions in the firm’s employment team had led it to look for network membership.
“In our employment practice we’ve seen cross-border issues and we like to have good contacts with firms specialising in employment law,” Hofkens said.
He said the attraction of the ELA for Lydian was that it was not an exclusive arrangement and the firm would be able to refer work to non-members.
Ius Laboris executive director Sam Everatt said expansion had not been top of the alliance’s agenda recently, but it did have gaps in its geographical coverage that it wanted to fill. Hungary represented one of these, but Asia Pacific was another “obvious” gap in the network, according to Everatt.
L&E Global executive director Stephan Swinkels agreed that Asia Pacific was a key area of future growth for the alliance, which would use its Australasian member firms Harmers and New Zealand’s Swarbrick Beck Mackinnon as a gateway to the region.
“Australia and New Zealand make an ideal hub to start working for the entire Asia Pacific,” he said.
Both Swinkels and Everatt noted that there are still barriers for labour law alliances in Asia Pacific, as a number of jurisdictions have limited employment law regimes and few firms dedicated to this area.
However, not every employment firm is wedded to the network concept. Last week a team of lawyers from DLA Piper’s Italian offices, led by partner Aldo Calza, split off to form a boutique together with Toffoletto e Socio lawyer Sharon Reilly (TheLawyer.com, 28 October).
The Employment Law Plant founders plan to build an independent, international employment firm with offices in London, Brussels, Paris and Berlin as well as in Rome, Milan and Palermo.
Reilly said the firm was determined to remain independent and would not join an alliance, preferring to offer clients an integrated service.
Integration is something employment alliances are also working on.
Acknowledging that L&E Global has grown quickly this year Swinkels said: “We don’t want to become an employment law directory so we’re growing, but in locations where we really want to be.”
Better integration and centralised management have also been important areas for Ius Laboris, according to Everatt.
“Most of our focus has been on increasing the amount we collaborate, both for clients and internationally,” he said.