Littler Mendelson quits Ius Laboris to focus on global growth

The US member of global employment alliance Ius Laboris, Littler Mendelson, has announced it is leaving the group to focus on a globalisation strategy.

The firm will formally withdraw from the alliance on 1 January 2013, after first joining in 2008.

The news follows Littler’s expansion into Mexico (20 December 2011) and Venezuela, and its alliance with China’s TransAsia Lawyers earlier in 2011 (15 February 2011).

Peter Susser, chair of the firm’s international employment practice group, said the firm had always planned to become an international player in employment law.

“Before the point we joined Ius Laboris we had a long-term view of what would be the best way to serve our corporate clients in the labour and employment areas, and that would be to create a truly integrated international niche firm,” he told The Lawyer.

Susser said that in the last few years the firm had been trying to expand its global outlook, by opening in Central and Latin America and forming the Chinese alliance as well as developing international practice groups within the firm. Littler has also invested heavily in developing online tools for clients, and now feels it could better pursue this strategy outside the alliance.

“There’s a better ability to maximise the investment and the technology within a single firm platform as opposed to across a broad group,” Susser said.

Littler is looking at further overseas expansion, said Susser, with Asia and Latin America high on its agenda. He added that the firm would continue its relationships with some of the Ius Laboris members.

“It’s an organisation comprised of terrific practices and excellent lawyers,” he said. “I’d expect that we’re going to maintain strong relationships with a number of members.”

Susser said the fact that many Ius Laboris members are full-service firms instead of employment boutiques was not a factor in Littler’s decision to withdraw.

In a statement issued jointly with Littler, Ius Laboris said: “Both organisations believe they can most effectively meet their respective strategic business goals by moving forward separately. Nonetheless, both hold each other in the highest regard and value the mutually beneficial opportunities that they have enjoyed during the last four years. The high quality of both organisations in this common field of practice has made participation in the alliance mutually very beneficial.

“Ius Laboris is currently in talks with a number of different firms and will decide in the coming months how to progress the alliance’s interests in the US market.”

The alliance recently announced that Israeli firm Herzog Fox & Neeman had joined as a full member, with TransAsia Lawyers and Fangda Partners in China, BDS Asesores in El Salvador and Nitschneider & Novak in Slovakia joining as affiliate firms.