Littler Mendelson is making the next stop in its march across Europe through a tie-up with eight-attorney Dutch labor and employment boutique CLINT.
Littler co-managing director Jeremy Roth said that initial move into Germany, which came on the heels of a period of expansion by the firm in Latin America, revealed significant further demand for new European partners.
“When we opened in Germany, in our first European expansion, I felt—and I was wrong—that we might not have as much client interest in what we were doing. Our big clients had been in Western Europe for a long, long time, and I thought they had relationships,” he said.
“What ended up happening is that the client community really responded positively—here’s a different kind of animal, they’re labor and employment focused, very pragmatic, and very business focused,” Roth continued.
Like Littler’s other recently added European offices and many of its earlier additions in the Americas, CLINT will join the firm’s international verein, Littler Global. The Dutch outpost brings the firm’s tally up to over 1,500 attorneys across 80 offices in 18 countries.
CLINT is a young firm, founded in 2016 with three partners who all held experience working with American companies. Two of the founders came from Greenberg Traurig and the third spent time at Ernst & Young.
According to Roth, the nature of their practice made the Netherlands a good fit for its next European move.
“Littler’s expansion outside of the U.S. is a function of two factors that have to align, and often don’t. It’s finding the right people we want to work with in terms of advancing our client service and getting the same feeling from the other side of the house,” he said. “The reality of the marketplace is that there are some [countries] where there aren’t good employment law boutiques.”
The firm does have a presence in the Netherlands that predates the tie-up. In August 2016, Littler brought shareholder Stephan Swinkels, a Baker McKenzie veteran and former executive director of an international alliance of labor and employment law firms, on board to lead the development and integration of the firm’s global practice.
Swinkels said that adding a team in the Netherlands had been a priority for the firm for a number of years, noting that many multinationals view the country as an ideal base to start operations in Europe.
“It’s not just the U.S. that is requesting practitioners in the Netherlands, it’s Germany, it’s France, it’s the U.K.,” he said. “We have daily requests for someone from the Netherlands to step in.”
CLINT co-founder Dennis Veldhuizen emphasized that he and his colleagues were eager to be part of something bigger and were pleased to be approached by Littler.
“What is very interesting for us [is] to be part of a firm that is very into globalization and tech-enabled solutions,” he said.
He also pointed to the opportunities to form closer ties with the other new Littler outposts elsewhere in Europe.
“The ability to stay independent while at the same time getting the benefits of the Littler network was key,” Veldhuizen said.