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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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Legal Developments worldwide

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  • Bulgaria: Opening the gas market for foreign traders!

    Most recently, the Bulgarian Energy Regulator has taken significant steps towards the full liberalisation of the natural gas market: In December 2016, the Bulgarian Energy Regulator adopted legislative amendments to the Rules for Trading of Natural Gas ( Правила за търговия с природен газ , " Trading Rules ") and the Rules for Access to the Gas Transmission and/or Gas Distribution Networks and the Natural Gas Storage Facilities ( Правила за предоставяне на достъп до газопреносните и/или газоразпределителните мрежи и за достъп до съоръженията за съхранение на природен газ , " Access Rules "). Moreover, it adopted new Rules for Balancing of the Natural Gas Market ( Правила за балансиране на пазара за природен газ , " Balancing Rules "). read more...
  • When Arbitration Meets Insolvency in Montenegro - Can They Coexist?

    Even at first blush, it is apparent that arbitration and insolvency make strange bedfellows.
  • Hungary: Registration Fees for Company Establishment Abolished

    In an aim to simplify state administration and support economic growth, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a new law abolishing the registration fee and the publication cost for incorporating limited liability companies (" LLC ") ( korlátolt felelősségű társaság ), limited partnerships ( betéti társaság ), general partnerships ( közkereseti társaság ), and sole entrepreneurships ( egyéni cég ). The new law becomes effective on 16 March 2017. read more...
  • SyCipLaw TMT Bulletin: Philippine Central Bank Issues New FinTech Rules

    The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) (the Philippine Central Bank) has issued two new circulars that will be of interest to companies engaged in remittance services, e-money, digital currency, and other fintech businesses. Both circulars amend portions of the BSP Manual of Regulations for Non-Bank Financial Institutions.
  • IFLR: “Philippines: Foreign equity ownership decision”

    The March issue of the International Financial Law Review ( IFLR ) includes an international briefing article by SyCipLaw partner  Jose Florante M. Pamfilo  entitled “Philippines: Foreign equity ownership decision”. The article discusses the Philippine Supreme Court decision on the case of Roy v. Herbosa (GR no. 207246) to invalidate the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Memorandum Circular no. 8-2013 (MC 8-2013) on the guidelines on compliance with the Filipino-foreign ownership requirements prescribed in the Philippine Constitution and/or existing laws by corporations engaged in nationalized and partly nationalized activities.
  • New regulation on unit-linked life insurance in Hungary

    Policyholders of unit-linked life insurance products pay an agreed sum for the unit-linked insurance to the insurance company, as a regular premium, or in one lump sum. These payments cover the life insurance component as well as the investment, administrative costs, contracting fee and the commissions. The "total cost charged" ("TCC") is an indicator – calculated in line with the rules of Hungarian insurance regulations – showing all costs charged on life insurance policies having a savings element, reflected as a percentage value. The regulation of the TCC in Hungary has been amended effective 1 January 2017. read more...
  • Hungary: Increase of Minimum Sale Price May Affect Retail NPL Transactions?

    On 7 March 2017, the Hungarian parliament adopted a law that increases the minimum sale price of a residential property in the enforcement procedure from the current 70% of its market value to 100% (market value to be understood as the price set by the appraisal of the bailiff), provided that (i) the claim to be enforced stems from a consumer contract; (ii) the real property is the debtor's only real property; and (iii) the debtor resided in that real property for at least six months prior to the initiation of the enforcement procedure.   read more...
  • European Court of Justice rules for the first time on discrimination based on belief

    The Court of Justice confirms a policy of neutrality can justify discrimination based on belief.

    Korean appeals court orders Google to disclose to Korean users what personal information Google passed to U.S. government.

    Case C-28/26 - Examines the right of a holding company to deduct input VAT on services acquired in the interest of its subsidiaries where those services are offered to its subsidiaries with no consideration.

Press Releases worldwide

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