Until very recently, one almost never heard mention of international issues among labor and employment law practitioners in the United States. Conventional wisdom considers this practice area quintessentially local. Identifying a trend that unseats this taken-for-granted notion, the article details the birth of a new employment law sub-specialty: international labor and employment law. Some U.S. management attorneys, working with transnational legal teams comprised of lawyers from foreign firms, are beginning to coordinate multinational clients' employment law projects across multiple national jurisdictions. While the world's legal regimes that regulate labor markets are remarkably culturally specific, the formation of transnational networks of employment practitioners creates the opportunity for the transfer across borders of ideas about how workplace law and legal practice should operate. That possibility is explored by describing the results of an ethnographic study of how one U.S. law firm is building its international employment law practice, and how the foreign lawyers it encounters react to the firm's distinctly American style of employment lawyering. The study of 23 lawyers practicing in 14 different countries reveals that our understanding of employment law and lawyering as firmly rooted to its domestic borders is in subtle but significant ways beginning to change. In fact, an incipient form of global practice already appears to exist. If commonalities in lawyering style, and perhaps a few substantive areas like employment discrimination law, ultimately emerge, the intriguing and obviously as yet unanswerable question is whether and how those changes may in turn affect the functioning and efficacy of employment law regimes outside U.S. borders.
Exceeding Our Boundaries: Transnational Employment Law Practice and the Export of American Lawyering Styles to the Global Worksite,
Comp. Lab. L. & Pol'y. J
Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.cwsl.edu/fs/342