The major law firms with offices in France may find themselves on the hook for millions, after Allen & Overy was ordered to pay damages to one of its former Paris associates.

As previously reported on RollOnFriday, A&O was taken to court by a capital markets lawyer who'd been given the chop last year. The firm argued that he was self-employed, and as such wasn't entitled to the huge benefits that accrue under French employment law. However the associate argued that in fact he was a full time employee - and the court has now agreed and ordered A&O to cough up. A spokesman for firm admitted that "the court found in favour of the associate and the matter has now been settled".

    French lawyers celebrating yesterday

The Paris offices of other major firms are facing similar actions - Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith and Baker & McKenzie have all been sued on this point. And the big French firms aren't immune, either - both Taj and Lefevre Pelletier have faced the wrath of spurned lawyers.

The finding against A&O could set a precedent - all law firms could now be obliged to treat their associates as proper employees. RollOnFriday's old friend Avi Bitton certainly hopes so. He's the poster boy for these sort of claims, having successfully cleaned out Clifford Chance in 2005. And he now storms the barricades on behalf of unemployed lawyers in the city of love.

Avi told RollOnFriday that whilst there was no particular extra cost to firms in employing lawyers full time, it did mean that firms would have to go through a lengthy and expensive process before sacking them. Self employed lawyers, however, can be kicked out without any reason at virtually no cost.

Any readers who've heard anything more about employment proceedings in Paris, get in touch with us here - completely anonymously.

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