Littler gets bigger in Europe with 170-lawyer French merger

US employment firm Littler Mendelson is set to widen its European presence as it signs a merger deal with French employment boutique Fromont Briens.

It follows the firm’s first expansion into Europe last year, when it bolted on German boutique Vangard, and its key hire of network boss Stephan Swinkels from L&E Global.

Littler co-managing partner Jeremy Roth confirmed that the firms had been in talks for two years prior to the announcement.

According to data from The Lawyer’s Euro 100 2016, Fromont Briens is the eighth largest firm in the country, generating €46.4m in revenues for the 2015 financial year out of its two offices in Paris and Lyon. The firm has 170 qualified lawyers and 41 partners.

Fromont Briens will continue to operate under its own brand name in France, but will also use the Littler name.

The firm was a member of TerraLex and the Employment Law Alliance, and had a number of best friend relationships, particularly with firms in Germany, the UK and US. As part of the combination, the firm will exit both networks.

Fromont Briens’ international team is led by Guillaume Desmoulin and Sophie Pelicier-Loevenbruck, who counsel national and multinational companies on such matters as labour relations, social security law and business restructurings.

Littler confirmed that Grégory Chastagnol, a member of Fromont Briens’ management committee, was involved in discussions from the outset.

Swinkels told The Lawyer: “This [combination] makes us a serious player in Europe and shows that we are having the breadth and depth on this side of the pond. This is a very big step.

“Integration is a big thing. Now the real work starts.”

Roth said that the firm is “actively seeking providers in Argentina and Chile to round out our offerings in South America”.

Roth suggested that the firm may try to replicate the technology developed in Fromont Briens across the firm. “One of the things we are very interested in heavily investing in on the US side is technology,” he said. “We are trying to integrate technology and technology solutions to enhance the product.”

This addition will bring Littler up to 76 offices worldwide in the US, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.