Littler Adds Firms in Colombia, Costa Rica
CORRECTION, 10/2/13, 3:35 p.m. EDT: This article's final paragraph has been corrected to accurately state Littler's total number of attorneys. We regret the error.
Labor and employment speciality firm Littler Mendelson is expanding its Latin American operations again, announcing Tuesday that it has absorbed two firms in the region: one in Colombia and the other based in Costa Rica.
Littler launched its first overseas office in Venezuela in 2010 and continued its Latin American growth the following year by opening an outpost in Mexico. Now, the firm is adding 41 attorneys and five offices in the region by combining with Colombia's Godoy Córdoba Abogados and Costa Rican firm BDS Asesores. The new additions, both of which specialize in labor law and immigration issues, will operate under a Swiss verein structure as part of the newly formed entity dubbed "Littler Global" that became effective Tuesday.
Littler co-managing director Jeremy Roth tells The Am Law Daily that the new entity's verein structure is a product of BDS and Godoy Córdoba both having standalone labor practices and strong local brands that the Am Law 100 firm wants to keep intact in order to make "the outward-looking interface to the client as seamless as possible."
Roth says Littler is continuing to expand in Latin America because of the economic growth the region is enjoying and the decision by an increasing number of its multinational clients to ramp up their operations there. (The BDS website lists such major international clients as Grupo Bimbo, Pfizer, and McDonald's; Godoy Córdoba's client roster includes Spanish utilities company Gas Natural and Merck among its clients.)
Littler, Roth adds, wants "to be the first-stop shop" for global employers when it comes to labor matters and he believes Tuesday's announcement will help the firm achieve that goal in Latin America. "Certainly, for Latin America, I think we're now the clear choice . . . on labor and employment," he says.
Godoy Córdoba—which is led by partners Carlos Heman Godoy Fajardo, Andres Godoy Cordoba, and Luis Alejandro Cordoba Escamilla—has 27 attorneys divided between offices in Bogota and Barranquilla. BDS, meanwhile, has 14 attorneys—led by senior partner Marco Durante Calvo, and partners Francisco Salas Chaves and Alejandro Trejos Gomez—spread across offices in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Panama.
Roth says Littler began considering tying up with Godoy Córdoba and BDS roughly eight months ago, initially discussing the possibility with the two firms separately before entering serious negotiations with both over the summer. Littler's relationship with each firm goes back several years, he says, noting that both Littler and BDS are former members of Ius Laboris—a global alliance of labor and employment law specialists that Littler left last year to focus on its international growth.
Roth believes the three firms' familiarity with one another bodes well for the future: "We've been to a lot of their client events, they've been to a lot of our client events. We know how they practice, we like the way they practice. They're of the highest caliber quality."
With its latest additions, Littler now has more than 980 attorneys worldwide and more than 60 offices in seven countries. The firm ranked 64th on The American Lawyer's most recent Am Law 100 ranking, with $455 million in gross revenues in 2012 and profits per partner of $500,000.