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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. Starting with the United States, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for six consecutive years. Fewer than 500 partners across the entire United States have made it into the inaugural list. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.

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United States > Labor and employment > Overview > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


While not necessarily as busy as in the immediate aftermath, ERISA litigators are still riding the wave of the Supreme Court’s 2014 decisions in M&G Polymers USA LLC v Tackett and Fifth Third Bank v Dudenhoeffer, which led to an increase in disputes regarding retiree health benefits and ‘stock-drop’ cases respectively. A key form of stock-drop cases are ones relating to declining industries, with the litigation regarding former film camera behemoth Kodak being an obvious example. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also known as Obamacare) is yet to have a significant impact from a litigation perspective, but it has generated advisory work.

Employee benefits and executive compensation lawyers were kept busy in 2015, with the M&A boom leading to an increase in deal-related work, and the more plan-management focused lawyers keeping their eyes on a strengthened fiduciary rule mandating that financial advisers do what is in the best interests of their clients. On the other hand, work relating to same-sex partner benefits has quietened down following the Obergefell Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the US.

Immigration law market continues to be a dynamic area of practice, notably with an increased demand for advice on the global transfer of employees prompted by the economic recovery in the US. President Obama’s announcement in 2014 of intended executive action on immigration reform subsequently put into motion a number of changes to US immigration law in 2015. The demand for H1B visas - temporary workers in a specialty occupation - has been tremendous and both the President and Congress have taken steps to ease the demand. Under the L-1B visa program, workers with ‘specialized knowledge’ needed in the country may be transferred to the US. However, the narrow and sometimes inconsistent definition of ‘specialized knowledge’ continues to pose challenges to potential employers. Another active area is the EB-5 program, which allows entrepreneurs (plus their spouses and unmarried children under 21) to apply for a green card.

While specialist immigration law firms, such as Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP or Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, are market leaders, many larger full-service firms are bolstering their immigration departments to deal with rising demand.

Labor and employment policy remains uncertain as President Obama’s time in the White House draws to a close. Legislation continues to evolve at a federal and state level, as Democrats and Republicans campaign for a majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives; government agencies, such as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have been particularly active in shaping federal law. In a recent example, the NLRB made a controversial decision against Browning-Ferris Industries - which it classed as a joint employer - through a ruling that enables unions and regulators to hold businesses accountable for the practices of agencies, contractors and franchisees that parent companies are affiliated with; Browning-Ferris filed an appeal in 2016. Employers faced further problems as a result of the NLRB’s decision to reduce the time between filing a petition for union representation and an election, which arguably denies companies the opportunity to stage an anti-union campaign prior to voting. The new rules took effect in April 2015.

Amendments to wage and hour rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act continue to pose problems for employers, and litigation in this area may increase as a result of the DOL’s update to regulations that could extend overtime protections to millions of white-collar employees. Boutiques and full-service firms also observed an uptick in cases concerning gender pay gaps, whistleblowing and retaliation claims filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and in wage and hour audits conducted by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. There were further hikes in suits concerning independent contractor classification, with class actions against Uber among the most high-profile cases in this area.

Another significant trend saw the EEOC focus on a wide array of systemic discrimination claims filed against employers through single-plaintiff, multi-plaintiff or class and collective actions. From 2017, private company and federal contractor employers with 100 or more employees will be required by the Commission to include pay and hours worked as part of their Employer Information Reports (EEO-1), and will also have to issue enforcement guidance on unlawful retaliation. California extended these changes through the newly introduced Fair Pay Act; commencing in 2016, the new legislation states that employers must justify pay differences between male and female employees undertaking similar work, regardless of job title. Additional amendments were made to the California Labor Code’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) to target rising civil litigation claims, which allege technical violations of itemized wage statements issued to employees. Now, employers have 33 days to address allegations before employees can seek PAGA penalties in a civil action.

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    Due to existing problems with regards to companies competing for the undertaking of public projects, on the 28 th  September 2015 the Cabinet decided to give an end to the scandals involving the squander of millions of public money by approving an amendment Bill, which would add to the conditions for public tenders, the requirement of providing a Criminal Record Certificate for legal entities. Until today, this was not required due to gaps and loopholes in the existing Law. Provided this Bill will be passed into Law by its publication at the Official Gazette of Cyprus, companies applying for public tender will be asked to produce a certificate that would show they have a clean criminal record.
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Press Releases worldwide

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