Law firm’s focus capitalizes on global economy

While most large law firms offer multiple services to many people, Littler maintains the same narrow focus it’s had since starting in San Francisco in 1942 – employment and labor law.

In fact, according to Mark Ogden, shareholder for the firm’s Arizona office, a select practice is not only Littler’s secret to success, it also represents the future of legal services.

“Our firm really was one of the pioneers of doing (law) this way,” he said. “Since the beginning of the United States, law firms have been multidisciplinary firms. But the trend really is for law firms to specialize – like ours.”

Littler is the world’s largest labor and employment law firm, with 57 offices in the United States, three in Mexico and one in Venezuela. The company’s nearly 1,000 lawyers represent about 80 percent of the Fortune 500, as well many smaller employers.

Regardless of company size, Ogden advises employers to use handbooks to detail policies and procedures. He also recommends discrimination and harassment training so employees know what’s illegal and prohibited by company policy.

“A lot of smaller employers overlook or ignore this and it can get them in a lot of trouble, especially when the employer is experiencing success and growing rapidly,” Ogden stressed.

He also points to government control as an issue affecting today’s employers. Thanks to increased regulations, Ogden predicts upcoming years will bring more lawsuits and investigations by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Furthermore, as more employers feel frustrated by overregulation, pressure to compete internationally grows.

Increased competition concerns has already led to more U.S. companies expanding south of the nation’s border. As a result, Littler is likely opening three offices this year in Central America and two or three in South America.

“Nobody else is really doing this, but we think that’s part of the future for us and part of the new global economy,” Ogden said.

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