Sextet of employment boutiques band together to form international network

Six boutique employment law firms from across Europe and the US have joined forces to create an international employment law alliance.

Stephan Swinkels
Stephan Swinkels

L&E Global, which launched on 21 January, has six member firms focusing on employment, labour, workplace privacy, employee ­benefits and immigration law.

The founding members are Bufete Suárez de Vivero in Spain, Flichy Grangé Avocats in France, Jackson Lewis in the US, Lablaw – Studio Legale Failla Rotondi & Partners in Italy, Pusch Wahlig Legal in Germany and Van Olmen Wynant in Brussels.

In total, L&E Global has more than 750 lawyers across some 50 offices. Brussels-based Stephan Swinkels, formerly a lawyer at Baker & McKenzie and in-house counsel at Deutsche Bank, is the group’s executive director.

“We’re seeing two trends among law firms at the moment – ­specialisation and globalisation,” says Swinkels. “We think it’s ­important to combine these two. We wanted to create a virtual
firm. Our members will remain ­independent, but to clients it will be as though they’re working with one firm.”

Prior to joining the alliance, prospective members were required to draw up lists of partners and associates in their firm who were dedicated to international work. The international teams from member firms would then combine to create a firm within firms.

“The sum of these international teams is L&E Global,” explains Tobias Pusch, founding partner of German member firm Pusch Wahlig.

According to Swinkels, admitting only boutique employment firms as members allows for greater integration at L&E Global and means it can handle mandates from other law firms as well as ­businesses.

“I strongly believe that having firms that only work on employment law is important for our internal structure and has a positive influence on our rates,” says Swinkels. “It’s also important from a specialisation point of view – it’s given us a head start.

“If you look at international markets you see a lot of lawyers from big firms becoming a little frustrated with working in a global firm and spinning off to launch a boutique.

“Our clients will also include large law firms that don’t have a global employment presence. By including only boutiques we can say we’re not a threat to a large firm’s business and handle their employment due diligence. We think the market’s ready for that.”

L&E Global expects to add more firms to its network in the coming months and is focused on the world’s key economic centres, ­particularly the Bric (Brazil, ­Russia, India and China) ­countries. But “growth isn’t a ­target as such”, according to Joël Grangé, name partner at French member firm Flichy Grangé.

“Our members work closely with firms in more than 50 ­countries and we hope to develop some of those relationship firms into full-time members,” says Pusch.

This is unlikely to mean a UK member, however. L&E Global does work with firms in the UK, but according to Grangé the employment laws are less complex than those of countries in Continental Europe, making it is less vital as an employment law jurisdiction.