IEL Elite

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

Global powerhouse



Spread across the US, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, Morgan Lewis’ highly reputed employment and labour department is the firms third-largest practice group.

Grace Speights leads the team from Washington DC. Other key names include Matthew Howse in London, and Lesli Ligorner in Shanghai/Beijing.

The team’s US offering in particular has been strengthened this year through a number of lateral hires, as well as the opening of a new office in Seattle in June 2022. The Seattle team is comprised of 19 lawyers, including partners Patty Eakes, specialising in employment disputes, investigations, and workplace counselling matters.

Their arrival followed Brian Berry’s, who in October 2021 joined the San Francisco office, as did of counsel Roshni Kapoor in February 2022. Also in 2022, Mark Stolzenburg joined the team in Chicago from Vedder Price, and Jennifer Bullock re-joined the firm as partner in its Miami office. Bullock came from her own employment law boutique, Bullock Legal.

Additional names of note include Pulina Whitaker in London, and Ami N Wynne in Chicago, who were recognised in IEL’s 2022 Women Leaders survey.


Clients regularly instruct the team on employment issues affecting strategic corporate decisions, such as those relating to the establishment of new operations or covid-19-related workforce restructurings.

Within this space, the team is particularly adept at handling emerging ways of hiring workforces, as evidenced in its advice to Shiseido on its sale of three brands to private equity firm Advent. Howse co-ordinated a large cross-border team to handle the impacts on staff in more than 20 jurisdictions, which included advice on the creation of professional employment organisations in several countries where the buyer did not have legal entities. 

The group also stands out for its work in the D&I space and the creation of related global initiatives for clients with multinational footprints. For example, partner Louise Skinner in London led the advice to an international pharmaceutical company on D&I across EMEA, Asia, Latin America, and the US, including commentary on market practice for those jurisdictions and the implementation of a transgender benefits policy.

Another key focus is pay equity, for which clients often appoint the team on complicated cross-border issues that involve data privacy challenges. A standout mandate for the firm in this space was for the US Soccer Federation, for which a group, led by Nicole Buffalano in Los Angeles, assisted with collective bargaining negotiations that, in May 2022, culminated in equal pay agreements for the men’s and women’s teams.

The team is also regularly involved in highly sensitive workplace investigations, including those into senior leadership and involving allegations of sexual harassment, racial inequality, corporate misdemeanour, and other policy violations. As part of its offering, the team provides crisis management counselling to guide clients through public relations following such allegations.

Other areas of practice include assistance with employment litigation, including defending corporates in high-profile class actions. The group’s prowess in the former was demonstrated in its defence of Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) against a claim filed by a group of employees to prevent BMS from terminating the employment contracts of staff who refused to receive a covid-19 vaccine. 

The firm also has a dedicated global employee benefits and executive compensation practice, and is well placed to assist with immigration issues – including obtaining National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) for senior executives to enter the US.


  • Amazon
  • Home Depot
  • Bimbo Bakeries USA
  • Honeywell International
  • Delta Airlines
  • Morgan Stanley
  • DHL
  • Toyota Motor North America
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • 23andMe

Other key names

  • Walter Ahrens (Germany)
  • Eleanor Pelta (US)
  • Craig A Bitman (US)
  • Amy Pocino Kelly (US)
  • David McManus (US)
  • Sabine Smith-Vidal (France)

Experts based in…

China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.

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