|Limited liability partnership|
|Headquarters||None (first office was in Los Angeles, California)|
|Ora Fisher and Richard Trobman, Interim Co-Chairs and Managing Partners|
|Products||Full legal services|
|Revenue||US$ 3.064 billion (2018)|
Number of employees
|2,475 attorneys |
Latham & Watkins LLP is an American law firm founded in 1934. As of 2018, it is the world's second highest-grossing law firm, with US$3.064 billion in annual revenue, and is widely considered one of the most prestigious law firms in the world.
Latham currently employs approximately 2,200 attorneys in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The firm was founded in Los Angeles and has extensive Californian roots, with Latham's largest office now in New York City, with nearly 400 lawyers. The firm claims it is the only fully integrated multinational law firm with no single headquarters. In 2007, Latham & Watkins became the first American law firm to attain more than $2 billion in yearly revenue, and in 2015, the firm surpassed the likes of DLA Piper, Baker & McKenzie and Skadden to become the highest-grossing law firm in the world for the first time. Since then, Latham was the first law firm to report surpassing US$3 billion in gross revenue in 2018 but lost the spot as the world's top-grossing law firm that same year to Kirkland & Ellis.
Dana Latham and Paul Watkins founded Latham & Watkins in January 1934 in Los Angeles, California. Latham's practice focused on US state and federal tax law and he eventually served as Commissioner of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service under President Dwight Eisenhower. Watkins' practice focused primarily on labor. Although Latham & Watkins began with a focus on labor and tax law, the firm has grown into an international, full-service law practice with highly regarded practices in transactional, disputes and regulatory areas.
When Latham & Watkins was founded, the firm consisted of three attorneys. The firm grew slowly, and, in 1960, there were 19 attorneys. The firm grew significantly in the 1960s, increasing the attorney headcount to 46 in 1970.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Latham & Watkins utilized a system of internal committees to run the firm and allowed associates to participate in the majority of these committees. The Associates Committee was founded in 1971 and governs the career development of the firm's associates. The Associates Committee includes both associates and partners. Through this committee, Latham & Watkins includes associates in the promotion process. Associates are also involved in the Diversity Committee, Recruiting Committee, Pro Bono Committee and TACE (Training and Career Enhancement) Committee.
Jack Walker became the firm's managing partner in 1988 and set out to grow the firm. Latham & Watkins expanded into San Francisco, London, Moscow, Hong Kong and New Jersey. Robert Dell took over as managing partner in 1994. Dell's tenure has been marked by the firm's international growth. In 2009, the firm gained unpleasant notoriety in the midst of the global recession when they laid off 190 lawyers and 250 paralegal and support staff, representing twelve percent of the firm's total associates and ten percent of the support staff.  At a time when many firms were conducting layoffs, the term 'Lathamed' became legal slang for being 'laid off'. Dell retired at the end of 2014, and was succeeded by William Voge, a long time project finance partner at the firm.
In 2018, chairman & firm managing partner William Voge announced that he would step down after engaging in a pattern of reckless behavior beginning with sexually explicit communications with a woman he had never met. After the pair consensually exchanged explicit sexual text messages, the relationship spiraled into mutual accusations of harassment and intimidation, threats of legal action and unsuccessful attempts at a truce, spread out across scores of correspondence with Voge's attorney, his colleagues and friends, the woman's husband, and several others. Voge's departure came in the midst of the Me Too movement; however, legal experts have been quick to point out that while distasteful, Voge's personal conduct was neither unlawful nor employment related. Critics have emphasized that his actions serve more as a warning on how personal misbehavior can derail an attorney's career rather than a turning point for how BigLaw tackles sexual harassment. Following the news, Latham announced that current vice-chairs Ora Fisher and Richard Trobman would take over as interim co-chairs of the firm.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Latham & Watkins was the eighteenth largest law firm donor contributing to federal candidates during the 2016 election cycle, donating $1.08 million, 83.2% to Democrats. By comparison, during that same period law firm Jones Day (second on the list and general counsel to the Donald Trump campaign) donated $2.38 million, 78.8% to Republicans, and oil conglomerate Chevron Corp donated $4.78 million, 74.9% to Republicans. Since 1990, Latham & Watkins has contributed $7.21 million to federal campaigns.
Latham was ranked as the #1 firm in the Am Law 100 rankings for 2017. In 2015, the firm received 31 top ten rankings across a range of corporate and finance categories in The American Lawyer's 2015 rankings. The results included four #1 rankings in the areas of high-yield debt, IPOs and equity investments, with strong results in other practices, including M&A, project finance, bankruptcy and REITs. Dubbed an "A-List All-Star" by The American Lawyer, the firm is one of three firms to appear on the A-List each year since its inception in 2003. The A-List recognizes "the most well-rounded" law firms based on financial performance and firm culture. Latham garnered the most Tier 1 rankings in the US market, across its transactional, disputes and regulatory practices in The Legal 500 US 2014. The Legal 500 US rankings are based on work achievements, depth and experience of the practice, and client and peer feedback.Vault.com, named Latham one of the top ten most prestigious firms in the United States.
Latham is also recognized as one of the highest-paying law firms in the world with profits per partner in the most recent year exceeding US$2.9 million. First-year associates are paid a salary of US$180,000, with additional merit-based bonuses bringing total compensation to approximately $195,000. Summer associates are paid the same salary as first-year associates, although their compensation is prorated over ten weeks (amounting to US$3,470 per week).
Latham's first office was in Los Angeles. The New York office is currently the largest. Latham is the only global law firm with no corporate headquarters, and no Latham office reports or is subordinate to another. Only personnel designated as "partners" have ownership interest or control of the firm. Those with the title of "officer" or "director" do not have authority to control the firm. Latham currently has over 2,200 attorneys located in 31 offices in 13 countries, covering 9 other regions.
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