Peter Talibart is respected as “a really great lawyer” and “truly a leader in the field” who brings a “real-world approach to global employment” matters.
Pete Talibart is an international employment and human rights lawyer. He leads the European practice of Seyfarth Shaw. He has advised on matters that very few lawyers have, from designing a national employment law system to managing strategic legal projects in 120 countries at a time, designing next generation laws, giving expert evidence to national parliaments and advising faiths on modern slavery issues. He is a trustee of the international charity Stop the Traffik and a former chair of the employment law committee of the International Bar Association.
Describe your career to date.
I am an employment lawyer qualified in Ontario, Canada; and in England and Wales. Over the course of my practice I have specialised in multi-jurisdictional matters and that is my major area of focus, with a minor in international human rights (modern slavery law).
How has the labour and employment market changed since you first started practising?
For the longest time labour and employment law was considered to be a jurisdiction-specific field, long after litigation and corporate finance had become acknowledged international disciplines.
To what extent have recent efforts to tackle modern slavery had a positive impact?
Every country will soon have a law in this area. My other job has been as an anti-slavery activist with Stop the Traffik. It has allowed me to use my expertise and experience as an international employment lawyer to address the second largest, and fastest-growing, organised crime activity in the world.
How has Brexit affected your clients’ decision-making over the past couple of years?
I (sadly) have clients asking me where in Europe they should establish their
businesses, and they are not even considering the UK any more. I do worry that we will never know the opportunity cost of recent events, and I hope that the wiser folks than I who are promising a golden future for Britain post-Brexit know what they are talking about. We all owe it to each other to try to make it work now.
How is the generational shift changing legal practice at your firm? What do younger lawyers do differently?
They seem way more confident, relaxed and in control than I ever felt (or remember feeling)! Good for them.
How do you see the interaction between technology such as block chain and big data and the increased corporate focus on ethics and sustainability?
Technology will enable companies to see (actually visualise) human rights issues all over the world and compare these with their own physical footprint – so they are alive to the risks of these intersections. Every sophisticated legal jurisdiction will have a modern slavery transparency law, and failure to take due care will become a directors’ liability issue, as well as a PR disaster for companies that turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in their supply chain. AI will read the modern slavery statements of companies all over the world, and from the vast amount of data generated by public disclosure laws, discern the most effective measures to include in second and third-generation supply chain transparency laws. For the first time, human laws will be informed (in part) by non-human intelligence. We started that right here, in the UK.
How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?
See above. Bring it.
What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?
A legal practice is one of the few careers with a realistic possibility of becoming more interesting and fun the longer you do it. There is a lot of grind to get through in the earlier years, but as you come out of that you will start to see how you can make a difference with the combination of your knowledge and experience. Good advice I received from a senior mentor was to tell myself that if it was easy, anybody could do it (I had to do that a lot)! Also, not to panic so much as things are rarely as bad as they first seem. My own advice to add to that would be to find a cause and fight for the angels wherever you can. That is not inconsistent with the practice of law at a high level.
Pete Talibart is the co-chair of the international labour and employment law practice of Seyfarth Shaw. He leads the firm’s London office and its European, Middle East and Africa employment law practice. He is qualified in both Canada and the UK.
Pete is employment counsel to major multinationals and financial institutions on strategic cross-border employment issues. His expertise is in all aspects of UK and cross-border employment law, in particular international corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance (employment), financial services compliance and ethical HR issues. He is an accomplished human rights advocate and has given formal evidence to the Parliaments of the UK and Canada on draft modern slavery laws. He has led some of the largest and most complex employment law projects in the world, including the core redesign of a national labor law system and a multi-billion Euro global restructure in 120 jurisdictions. He is a trustee/ legal adviser of the international human rights charity STOP THE TRAFFIK.
Pete is a very popular speaker and has lectured all over the world on international employment law issues, including modern slavery. He has appeared on BBC Television News and has been quoted in major British, French and German newspapers. He has been published widely in various international HR and employment law journals. He is a former co-chair of the Employment and Industrial Relations Law Committee of the International Bar Association and he advised the Church of England in relation to the UK Modern slavery Act as the bill passed through the House of Lords. He has been involved in the design of modern slavery laws in other jurisdictions.