ALM Properties, Inc.
Page printed from: International News
Select 'Print' in your browser menu to print this document.
Ius Laboris Q&A
WHAT IS THE MAIN FUNCTION OF THE IUS LABORIS NETWORK?
THE function of Ius Laboris is manifold but it is primarily an alliance of law firms focused on labor and employment law. The alliance brings together more labor and employment law specialists than any other network or organisation, so at a fundamental level the alliance is about uniting the experience and knowledge of those experts to provide a seamless cross-border service to multinational companies in labor and employment issues.
One of the main features of labor and employment law is how all-embracing it is; so when companies are looking for a service in this area they often require the full breadth of related skills and specialisms. Unfortunately for clients, many firms will focus on one particular area, or even if they do have broader experience, the scale of their limited offering in employment means that they will not able to provide the sheer range of skills that we can offer by bringing together the leading independent practices in the field from around the world.
The full scope of employment and labor law obviously covers a wide remit so to ensure that we can provide the appropriate advice we divide our sector knowledge into various practice groups including individual dismissals, occupational health and safety, data and privacy, pensions and so on. We have eight practice groups in all and we have individuals across all of our member offices that are active in advising in these areas.
IUS LABORIS WAS FOUNDED IN 2001 BY FIVE EUROPEAN NICHE EMPLOYMENT LAW FIRMS, HOW FAR HAS THE ORGANISATION COME IN THAT TIME?
We launched our offering ten years ago from five countries across Europe. We had a vision to create an international network that was more than just a loose collection of firms. The nature of employment law dictates that you need a strong grounding in local law so we understood that to provide the best service to our multinational clients we needed to exclusively approach firms with the best reputation locally it is very different from establishing an international transactional network as employment is usually driven by domestic regulation.
In the first eight years the alliance grew rapidly, firstly in Europe and then the Americas. We now have 2500 lawyers across 40 countries around the world.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ADVANTAGES OF INSTRUCTING A FIRM IN THE IUS LABORIS ALLIANCE?
Firstly, our network is entirely comprised of specialist employment law firms and this is evident if you look at any firm in our network. For example our firm in Brussels, Claeys & Engels, is a human resources niche firm that fields 15 partners, and a total of more than60 lawyers, that exclusively practice in such areas as individual employment and labor law, individual and collective negotiations, Belgian & European works councils and transfer of undertakings among other areas. These lawyers have access to knowledge for every area of employment law because they are encouraged to share knowledge within their own firm, and this process is replicated across our whole network. Therefore our members naturally have a broader and more in-depth knowledge of employment law.
Our concerted focus on employment issues ensures that we have a global roster of very capable employment lawyers and that makes us much more able to resolve problems swiftly and efficiently, which provides another important advantage to clients: Cost savings. Other international law firm networks just cant provide that value-added service in the same way.
Finally, we take sharing knowledge very seriously and we do that in a number of ways.
Technology is very important and we have technology platforms that allow our members to easily share knowledge; our firms all actively collaborate on that.
THE TYPES OF FIRMS INCLUDED IN THE ALLIANCE VARY GREATLY IN SIZE AND PROFILE, HOW USEFUL IS THAT IN ENSURING IUS LABORIS CAN PROVIDE A BESPOKE HUMAN RESOURCES OFFERING TO CLIENTS?
The member firms change in size and scale according to the size and scale of the economies that they are in, so clearly our US member is pretty vast; it has around 850 lawyers now focusing purely on labor and employment work. In other countries with smaller economies the size of the firm will be reduced. Generally speaking, we do have different types of firms in our network, some members are full-service for example, but the key universal theme among all firms is a remarkable focus on the labor and employment and their ability to share knowledge in those areas.
HOW DOES IUS LABORIS MAINTAIN CONSISTENT QUALITY THROUGHOUT ITS EXTENSIVE NETWORK?
Over the past three years we have concentrated on consolidating our alliance. It is very important to us that we ensure our lawyers know each other well so that all member law firms can work together collaboratively.
To promote that closeness, we have a legal academy that brings together lawyers from around the organisation to train them in fundamental employment practices. Some of the training focuses on legal knowledge and the application of legal advice in foreign jurisdictions such as learning how other systems work to assist people in guiding their clients in other countries but it is also about project management. We provide our senior lawyers with the tools to manage cross-border projects and we do that for a number of multinational clients, even in countries outside of the alliance jurisdictions.
We also make sure that our member firms are populated with leaders in their fields, maintaining quality is an issue that is extremely important for us. We have an internal programme whereby we monitor the quality of our firms through an annual peer assessment process, and each of our members provides feedback via an online system on the different areas that they cover and the different firms that they have worked with over the year. It is a real measure for us and it ensures that we deliver the right service to our clients wherever we are. It also helps us to identify areas where we can improve, which ensures that we are continually raising the bar.
It is important to note that we are much more than a directory of firms; we are a group of people that collaborate very closely with one another to provide a consistent quality of service to our clients. We have been careful to select members that demonstrate excellent commitment to the human resources area and to maintain that quality we only choose one firm in each country.
IF A FIRM WAS INTERESTED IN JOINING THE ALLIANCE, WHAT KIND OF CRITERIA WOULD THEY HAVE TO MEET?
Firstly, they clearly need to be the leader in labor and employment law in their jurisdiction.
Secondly, we need to be certain that it is a jurisdiction that is important for our members and our members clients. We go through a process of identifying the geographic priorities for our members and our clients and then we go through a process of working out who we consider our potential members might be in that country. We have a number of countries around the world that have asked us to join but for the last two or three years we havent actually been looking at expanding into other countries weve just been focusing on consolidating our offering to provide a seamless cross-jurisdictional service.