Methodology and Guidelines

As the world of work continues to evolve and new challenges arise in the post-pandemic era, the annual IEL Elite guide recognises leading international, regional, national, and boutique practices that have offered market-leading, cutting-edge advice to employers over the past 12 months.

IEL’s independent research is carried out annually during a four-month period. 

To appear in IEL Elite, firms must demonstrate a depth of expertise, market presence, and a high level of advisory, disputes, and transactional work from across a broad spectrum of employment and labour law issues.

How to participate

Law firms are invited to participate through a short submission process. A submission document is available on request.

Our 2024 research deadline is TBC. Completed submissions are sent via email. Only one submission document is necessary per firm, regardless of the number of offices providing matters for consideration. It is not necessary for every office to provide a full submission.

Firms are asked to provide a minimum of ten standout instructions from the last year (June 2023 to May 2024), demonstrating a mix of complex contentious and non-contentious work.

What work to include

When reviewing firms’ submissions, IEL will consider the complexity and value of the work and who the client is. Firms should clearly identify why each matter was important, either to the client, their industry, or the broader employment and labour landscape.

Please clearly label any confidential information in red. Firms will not be penalised for only including confidential information.

A note on confidentiality: IEL Elite submissions are saved separately from other documents, with access only granted to a select number of IEL employees. None of the information included is used for any purpose other than informing the IEL Elite research and the IEL Elite write-up. Any information included in the IEL Elite write-up is vigorously checked and cross-referenced against submission forms for potential confidentiality breaches prior to publishing.

Broadly, the matters relied upon should fall within the following specialisms:

  • Business reorganisation
  • Executive compensation
  • Data protection and privacy
  • Disputes
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Health and safety
  • Immigration and global mobility
  • Incentives and benefits
  • Labour relations
  • Pensions
  • Whistleblowing and investigations

Particular weight will be given to cross-border matters, where applicable.

Firms with international or regional practices should provide the best work from across their office network. Successful firms will have the work of individual offices recognised in a more substantive editorial where applicable.

Other information to include

  • Practice developments. This can include, but is not limited to, hires, promotions, and expansion of specialisation, as well as new clients, geographical growth, investment in new technology, and other innovations that benefit employers around the globe.
  • Key points of contact in the team. For example, regional or national heads, or leaders of sub-practice groups.


Follow-up face-to-face or telephone interviews, lasting between 45mins and one hour, will be arranged where appropriate.

Should your firm be offered an interview, we would advise a maximum of two partners attend. Partners should be prepared to talk about their practice’s standout work and provide observations on market trends and competitors.

Breakdown in guide

Successful firms are included under one of three classifications in the IEL Elite.

  • Global Elite: Firms in this category have an extensive, leading global presence through office locations and/or top-tier internationally focused employment teams that demonstrate impressive skill in coordinating large multi-country mandates from key hubs. These teams regularly advise on projects covering tens of jurisdictions, and receive substantial recognition for their standing on the global stage.
  • Multijurisdictional Elite: Firms in this category operate out of more than one jurisdiction, and are adroit at taking on some of the most complicated and delicate labour and employment work, including at domestic, regional, or international level. These teams are market leaders in their region, or impressive transatlantic groups that truly understand the nuances of cross-border employment law advice.
  • National Elite: Firms in this category are domestic market leaders – either as part of full-service offerings or as dedicated labour and employment boutiques. These are firms that international or foreign firms without a local presence go to, that grasp the subtleties of translating domestic legislation to non-local audiences and aligning the same with the requirements of multinationals.

How we get our results

The results of the IEL Elite research are based on:

  • Analysis of work carried out by leading teams, where applicable. We recommend firms submit to give the most accurate overview of their practices for our consideration.
  • Interviews with prominent experts around the world to inform our research on what market-leading work looks like. 
  • Feedback from those in the know – the prominent experts interviewed, as well as IEL’s readership, which we invite to recommend teams for inclusion.

Kindly note we do not accept client feedback compiled by or provided via firms.

IEL review

The IEL Elite guide recognises the world’s leading practices, rather than individuals. As a result, not all partners or other senior practitioners will be included in our review.

Names included in the IEL Elite review are –

  • Heads of practice (at national, regional, international level)
  • Partners leading publishable work on the submission*
  • New partners – through partnership promotions or lateral hires, or other news that would warrant their inclusion
  • Partners that have featured in IEL in the past year – in our surveys and/or in community pieces

*Please note not all partners leading publishable work will be included in the write-up – this is subject to our discretion.

Research timeline

Research will begin late Q2/early Q3 2024.

For more information, please contact our Content Manager, Amy Barnicoat-Hood.