The labor and employment firm Littler Mendelson on Monday announced a Swiss verein-style merger with the 170-lawyer French firm, Fromont Briens, which has offices in Paris and Lyon.
Under the agreement, Fromont will join Littler Global, a platform that allows the firms to share resources in areas such as marketing, and to work together on products and setting prices, but not to share profits.
Since 2010, the 1,000-lawyer Littler Mendelson has been expanding beyond its U.S. roots, and it has offices in Toronto, Mexico and Venezuela. The firm also operates through Littler Global in Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Puerto Rico. Last year, it made its first foray out of the Americas by opening four offices in Germany through the platform.
Jeremy Roth, co-managing partner of Littler, said the global expansion is necessary as clients are increasingly looking to conslidate their labor and employment related legal work with a single law firm.
“You’ve got expat managers all over the world moving from jurisdiction to jurisdiction,” said Roth. “Companies have their workforces, and work flows among workforces, shifting from country to country. All of that complexity really adds to the service offering that we can give.”
Ogletree Deakins, a Littler competitor in employment law with about 750 attorneys, has offices in London and Berlin, as well as Mexico and Toronto, according to its Web site. But Jackson Lewis, another rival with about 750 lawyers, doesn’t list any foreign offices.
Roth said London is not necessarily the most important office to have in Europe for employment law firms, and that France, Germany and Spain are just as important locations.
“A lot of global companies are based in France,” said Roth.
Over the last two years as Littler mulled further growth in Europe, its German team worked frequently with Fromont, allowing the firms to get to know each other better. “We really like the way they practice,” Roth said.
Sophie Pelicier-Loevenbruck, a Fromont partner, said France is a big market for U.S. companies, and that French companies are very interested in the U.S. market, particularly California.
Roth said the two firms are announcing their agreement at the Oct. 16-19 meeting of the Association of Corporate Counsel in San Francisco.
UPDATED: This story has been corrected to reflect that the offices in Mexico, Canada and Venezuela are Littler-owned offices and not part of the Verein structure.