Employment giant Littler passes milestone with 100th global office

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A pigeon is seen on a deserted bridge crossing a canal in the old town of Bruges during the lockdown imposed by the Belgian government, Belgium April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Littler Mendelson has opened its 100th location, the labor and employment giant announced this week, expanding its footprint in Europe as it continues a global growth streak.

Reliance|Littler, a collaboration in Belgium that began in 2018 when Littler joined forces with Reliance, a 20-lawyer labor and employment boutique, will open a third Belgian office in Ghent, the firm said Wednesday. The new office will be led by partners Edward Carlier and Koen de Bisschop.

“Reaching 100 offices around the world is a clear signal that our expansion strategy and model for serving clients’ global labor and employment needs is resonating with multinational companies,” Erin Webber, Littler’s managing director and president, said in a statement.

When Webber joined the firm in 2001, Littler had 200 lawyers. It now boasts over 1,400 lawyers in 25 countries, according to its website.

Helping fuel its international expansion has been Littler's strategy of combining with other firms using the Swiss verein structure, allowing constituent firms to operate with a large degree of autonomy over hiring and finances while taking advantage of Littler's scale. Many of the world's largest law firms, including DLA Piper, Baker & McKenzie and Dentons also operate as vereins.

“Since joining forces with Littler nearly three years ago, we have been able to offer our clients personal, local legal counsel across the many jurisdictions in which they operate, as well as serve an array of clients doing business in Belgium,” said Edward Carlier, a founding shareholder of Reliance|Littler, in a statement.

Littler combined with at least three European firms in 2020, most recently with 39-lawyer Spanish firm Abdon Pedrajas in November. In December, it gained a foothold in Brazil, which bars lawyers employed by foreign firms from practicing there, through a correspondent counsel partnership with 18-lawyer Chiode Minicucci.

"We are local firms," said Stephan Swinkels, a Littler shareholder who helps lead the development and integration of the firm’s global practice alongside Webber. "We're going to court every day, we're with our feet in the mud, wherever we need to be for our clients."

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