Latham & Watkins is a fully-integrated, global law firm which believes in a "one-firm" culture. The firm houses around 2,000 lawyers in 31 offices across three continents. There is no particular office which serves as headquarters since the leaders are all across the globe. But the firm's chairman works out of the San Francisco office.
The attorneys are spread internationally in various cross-office teams, which brings to the table the right talent and expertise for attending to client requirements. The firm is also one of the world's largest providers of pro bono legal services and has been instrumental in encouraging pro bono services in various places. Latham has also been one of the most profit-making law firms in the world. It is also the first American law firm to attain more than $2 billion in yearly revenue.
Dana Latham and Paul Watkins were the founders of the firm Latham & Watkins in January 1934 in Los Angeles, California. Latham's practice revolved around federal tax law after which he served at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service under President Eisenhower. Watkins' practice on the other hand, revolved around labor laws. Although Latham & Watkins started with labor and tax law as its practice areas, the firm gradually grew into a full-service law practice with diverse experience in transactional disputes and regulatory compliance areas.
Starting with three attorneys, the firm expanded to 19 attorneys in 1960 and then to 46 in 1970. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, internal committees were used to run the firm. The Associates Committee was initiated to govern the career development of the firm's associates. The firm includes associates in this promotion process.
Jack Walker was the first managing partner of the firm in 1988 and the firm managed to expand to San Francisco, London and Moscow among other places. After a period of six years, Bob Dell took over as managing partner and the firm experienced tremendous international growth in his present tenure of more than 18 years.
A heavy focus on corporate transactions and bad trading conditions weakened the firm in 2008 resulting in declining profits. More than 190 lawyers and 250 staff members were laid off in one of the biggest lay-offs by a U.S. law firm. The firm has returned to growth mode and by 2011 had set up offices in Houston and Boston.
Awards and recognitions
Asian-MENA Counsel "Representing Corporate Asia & Middle East Survey" names two Latham lawyers to External Counsel of the Year list.
Los Angeles Business Journal: Named "IT Team of the Year" at CIO of the Year 2012 Awards.
Women in Law Empowerment Forum: Gold Standard Certification honors commitment to female achievement in the legal profession.
Chambers USA Awards: Firm noted for "excellent coverage" in Patent, Copyright & Trademark.
Latham Garners 2012 Tier 1 Ranking for Telecom Broadcast & Satellite Regulatory in Chambers.
Asian Legal Business: Latham picks up four awards in Asian Legal Business' 2012 South East Asia Law Awards.
Islamic Finance news: Five Latham lawyers named to Islamic Finance news' Leading Lawyers list.
Latham & Watkins won the Excellence for Client Service Award in Italy in the 2012 Chambers Europe Awards.
The American Lawyer's 2011 "A-List" ranked Latham & Watkins 6th in the nation out of more than 200 firms.
It ranked 17th in the 2010 Vault.com Top Law Firms List, a survey that asks law firm associates to rank the perceived prestige of the major law firms.
Latham was ranked first by Legal500, along with two other firms in the U.S., for project finance.
Latham was also identified in the December 2006 issue of The American Lawyer as the Am Law 200's "most admired firm."
Legal Business magazine awarded Latham the coveted title "Law Firm of the Decade" for its ability to handle the immense challenges posed by the legal industry globally over the last ten years and its financial and strategic success during the period.
Law firm of the year (The Lawyer Awards 2008)
International law firm of the year (PLC Which Lawyer? Awards 2008)
Who's Who Legal's Commercial Arbitration Law firm of the year award in 2010 for the fifth consecutive year
Chambers Global's Arbitration Law firm of the year award in 2008 for the third consecutive year
Ranked first in the Global Arbitration Review's GAR100 in 2010 for the third consecutive year
Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2011
Private Equity Team of the Year (Legal Business Awards)
Internal Communications Team of the Year (The Lawyer HR Awards)
'European Law Firm of the Year' at 2010 Chambers Europe Awards for Excellence.
Voted 'Global Law Firm of the Year' by Who's Who Legal in 2010.
Named 'China Foreign Firm of the Year' by PLC Which Lawyer?
Won Best Partnership Project at the 2010 National Recycling Awards
At the 2008 ALB SE Asia Law Awards, Latham & Watkins was crowned:
Deal of the Year - Project Finance Deal of the Year
Deal of the Year - Equity Market Deal of the Year
At the 2008 ALB China Law Awards, Latham & Watkins was crowned
Deal of the Year - Project Finance Deal of the Year
Latham attaches high value on different opinions and viewpoints - the firm's culture is rooted in collegial terms while its management style is more of a consensus-based model. Recognizing the value of teamwork, the firm believes that all lawyers at all levels should give inputs to the firm for taking better decisions.
Latham and Watkins has formed different committees on which associates serve:
Pro Bono Committee
Training & Career Enhancement (TACE) Committees
The Associates Committee is comprised of roughly half partners and half associates and manages associate reviews and evaluation, assignments and policies. The associates committee plays an important art in recommending partners.
Achieving diversity and providing equal opportunity has been one of the firm's highest ideals. The firm has consistently conceived, promoted and implemented methods that ensure lawyers are hired and promoted fairly. The firm has a Diversity Committee which addresses issues related to diversity and includes representatives from different committees.
The Latham & Watkins Diversity Scholars Program awards six second year law students with US$10,000 non-renewable scholarships. The partners and associates first review applications and then interview them before finalizing winners.
Latham & Watkins Law Preview Scholars Program helps the law students to get off to a good start and offers scholarships to select students from different law schools. Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) Internships involve students who are underrepresented and have been accepted to top law schools.
MPAC: The Multicultural Promotion & Attainment Coalition (MPAC) is an associate-driven, grassroots initiative, which supports retention and promotion of lawyers and gets them participate in all types of activities. The firm also encourages and supports its lawyers' involvement in diversity programming and sponsors registration and travel costs for select number of lawyers.
Summer associate program
In 2011, Latham & Watkins LLP had a class of 168 summer associates and the summer program runs in all of its U.S. offices. All summer associates are paid $3,080 per week, regardless of class. They have to complete 10 projects on average and can also do pro bono work. Summer associates typically bill for around five hours on assignments. The firm has a reputation for giving its summer associates "real work" and most summer associates have said that they learned useful skills during their time in the firm. The firm also hosts several social events for the summer associates and most of them believe that the firm does live up to its reputation of work-hard/party-hard.
Salary & benefits
Latham & Watkins's starting salary is $160,000. The figure stays the same for all members of each class year when it comes to the base salary. For associates who are able to complete at least 1,900 hours, there is a guarantee of a base bonus amount, which from 2009 to 2011 was above average in the industry. Latham & Watkins's profits per equity partner in 2009 were $1,900,000, with the firm securing an 82nd percentile.
- 401(k)/IRA/Other Retirement Plan
- Bar Association Fees
- Business Casual Dress Code
- Dental Insurance
- Domestic Partner Benefits
- Employee Assistance Program
- Family/Dependent Care Leave
- Flexible Spending Account/Pre-Tax Option
- Life/AD&D Insurance
- Long-term Care Insurance
- Long-term Disability Insurance
- Medical Insurance
- Medical Spending Account
- Parental Leave
- Relocation Expenses
- Short-term Disability Insurance
- Sick Leave
- Technology (Laptop, PDA, etc.)
- Vacation Leave
- Vision Insurance
Parental Care Leave: 18 weeks for birth mothers who are primary caregivers; 18 weeks for adoptive parents who are primary caregivers; 10 weeks for other primary caregivers; 4 weeks for non-primary caregivers (both birth and adoptive parents). Family/Dependant Care Leave includes leave for placement of a child for adoption or foster care, or a family member with a serious health condition. All associates have an automatic option to return from a Parental Care Leave at a reduced-pace schedule for a six month period without prior approval, under the PRO RATA (Pace Reduction Option for Returning Associates to Adjust) Program. The firm also offers subsidized in-home and center-based back-up child care and elder care. The firm offers a $10,000 referral bonus (payable in two $5,000 increments at time of hire and one-year anniversary of hire) for each lateral associate hire that a current associate introduces to the firm.
Working for the Latham & Watkins.
Full-time associates have to bill a minimum of 1,900 hours every year. The firm also accepts part-time associates and these associates are even eligible for partnership. But entry-level associates cannot avail of this benefit. Associates can claim the time spent on pro bono work in their billable hours. The firm offers the telecommuting option on a case-by-case basis and a flexible timings option as well.
Latham & Watkins' pro bono practice plays an integral role in the organization's culture and it is widely considered a leader in pro bono work. The firm has committed to provide at least 60 hours per U.S. lawyer per year as pro bono services. The firm has provided more than 173,000 hours of free legal services worth US$83 million to needy people in 2011. Over the past decade, it has donated free legal services worth $675 million. The firm focuses on human rights, refugee and immigration matters when it comes to pro bono work.