19 May 2021

Littler opens 100th office as Belgian partner adds third location

RelianceLittler partners Edward Carlier and Koen de Bisschop will lead new Ghent office

Ghent Shutterstock

Employment and labour law specialist Littler has opened its 100th office worldwide through its Belgian partnership with RelianceLittler, which has launched in Ghent – its third office in the country.

The new office will be led by RelianceLittler partners Edward Carlier and Koen de Bisschop, adding to its locations in Brussels and Mechelen. The Belgian firm joined Littler’s global platform in 2018. 

Of the decision to open an office in Ghent, de Bisschop commented: “We want to be close to the main business hubs in Belgium, which include the Antwerp region, covered by our Mechelen office, Brussels and the Ghent-Kortrijk area. Even though Belgium is a small country, there are strong regional differences and we believe that being close to our clients provides an added value and corresponds to our clients' expectations. We are also convinced that this model fits well with the modern way of working that combines flexibility and easily accessible workspaces.” De Bisschop has registered with the Ghent bar and will focus on developing the firm’s office there. 

Erin Webber, Littler’s managing director and president, said: “Reaching 100 offices around the world is a clear signal that our expansion strategy and model for serving clients’ global labour and employment needs is resonating with multinational companies. It also underscores our reputation of being local everywhere as we remain focused on continuously strengthening the customised, high-quality legal counsel we provide to global employers.”

Carlier and de Bisschop founded Reliance in 2009, having both previously worked at UK magic circle firms in Belgium. Carlier was previously a managing associate at Linklaters, while de Bisschop was previously at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and also Linklaters before that.

Carlier said: “Littler’s approach to combining its vast resources and knowledge in labour and employment law with local firms well-versed in their regions’ laws and business practices has proven effective. 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.”

Littler opened its first international office in Venezuela back in 2010 and has since established offices in a total of 25 countries, employing more than 1,600 lawyers globally. The firm has offices in 11 European countries, most recently opening in Ireland in January.

Stephan Swinkels, who leads the development of Littler’s global operations, said: “Belgium is home to the European Union’s headquarters, making it an important political and business hub. Known for providing superior counsel to Belgian and international clients and for its unique ability to work in Dutch, French and English, RelianceLittler’s further growth in the region will provide additional value to our clients in Belgium and around the world.” 

Asked about further expansion plans, RelianceLittler commented: We are always exploring opportunities to enter new markets and combine with firms and attorneys who share our client service model. However, we do not have any specific plans to report at this time."

Other US firms have also recently looked to Belgium, with Am Law 200 outfit Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle announcing last week it was setting up shop in the Brussels and Wall Street firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett unveiling plans in February to open an office in the Belgian capital later this year.

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