Latham & Watkins
|Limited liability partnership|
Los Angeles, California
|William Voge, Chairman and Managing Partner|
|Products||Full legal services|
|Revenue||US$ 2.226 billion (2012)|
Number of employees
|Approximately 2,000 Attorneys|
Latham & Watkins LLP is the world’s largest law firm by revenue. Latham currently employs approximately 2,000 attorneys in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The firm was started in Los Angeles in 1934 and has extensive Californian roots, but Latham's largest office is now in New York City. It is the only global law firm with no one headquarters.
Latham has historically been one of the most profitable law firms. In 2007, Latham & Watkins became the first American law firm to attain more than $2 billion in yearly revenue. In 2015, the firm surpassed the likes of DLA Piper, Baker & McKenzie and Skadden to become the largest law firm in the world by revenue for the first time.
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' practise 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, the 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. Bob Dell took over as managing partner in 1994 and remains in that position presently. Dell's tenure has been marked by the firm's international growth. Dell will be retiring at the end of 2014, and will be succeeded by Bill Voge, a long time project finance partner at the firm.
The firm's focus on corporate transaction and its dependency on financial services clients resulted in difficult trading conditions in 2008. In that year, profits declined and in early 2009, the firm laid off 190 lawyers and 250 staff members in the largest layoff up to that time by an American law firm. Such was the severity of the cuts that the term "Lathamed," which by its most polite definition means to be laid off, was coined. By 2010 revenues and profits were roughly equivalent to the figures in 2008. The firm has returned to growth mode, opening new offices in Houston and Boston in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
The American Lawyer's 2013 "A-List" ranked Latham & Watkins 10th in the nation out of more than 200 firms. In 2013, the firm was recognized as an “A-List All-Star,” for being one of only four firms to make the A-List every year since the list’s beginning. The survey takes into account factors such as revenue per lawyer, pro bono, diversity and associate satisfaction. It ranked 10th in the 2013 Vault.com Top Law Firms List, a survey that asks law firm associates to rank the perceived prestige of the major law firms. In 2007, Vault.com ranked Latham as one of the "Best 20 Firms to Work For," one of only three large firms with New York offices to make the list. However, in 2009 and 2010, Latham & Watkins was not included on the list of "Best 20 Firms to Work For" while 13 large firms with New York offices made the list.
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.
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
Notable clients and cases
- Represented Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. in its $4.84 billion sale to the Sony Corporation in cooperation with Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Comcast Corporation (September 2004).
- Advised Bayer AG in its successful 2006 €16.4 billion white knight takeover offer for Schering AG pharmaceuticals.
- Legal counsel to bookrunners and arrangers Deutsche Bank Securities Inc, Goldman Sachs International and Merrill Lynch International in $2 billion Rule 144A/Regulation S notes offer for ICICI Bank Ltd, through its Bahrain branch (October 2007). This transaction was shortlisted for the Asia Law India award in the category capital markets.
- Represented the Church of Scientology in the Reed Slatkin Ponzi scheme, and in 2008 letters signed by David J. Schindler on Latham & Watkins stationery were hand-delivered to Anonymous protesters identified by Scientology, demanding cessation of unspecified "illegal activities against the church".
- Represented Eli Lilly & Co. in its $6.5 billion acquisition of ImClone in October 2008, in which Eli Lilly prevailed in an abortive price war with Bristol-Myers Squibb, a rival pharmaceutical company that had been seeking control of ImClone, a leader in the field of oncology medicine.
- Advised Yahoo! Inc. in the definitive agreement to acquire Arabic language online portal Maktoob in August 2009. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Donated $3.2 million in legal services to Jay Bybee, a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, during an investigation into allegations of professional misconduct resulting from Bybee's work for the U.S. Justice Department under President George W. Bush.
- Sean Berkowitz – Federal prosecutor in the trials of Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.
- John Kirby – Intellectual property attorney, after whom Nintendo may have named its "Kirby" character after a series of high-profile cases.
- Gregory G. Garre – Former Solicitor General of the United States.
- Maureen Mahoney – Former Deputy Solicitor General in 1991, represented the University of Michigan before the U.S. Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger.
- Philip Perry, was Dept. of Homeland Security General Counsel, now a partner in the litigation department and chair of the Public Policy practice group. He is married to Elizabeth Cheney, attorney, diplomat and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
- Bruce Babbitt – Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President Bill Clinton and former governor of Arizona.
Latham was originally founded in Los Angeles, though its New York office is its largest today. The executive committee members are spread around the world, with the firm's current chairman being based in San Francisco. The incoming chair-elect is based in London. No Latham office reports or is subordinate to another as it is the only global law firm with no headquarters. Latham currently has 2,100 attorneys throughout its offices located around the world.
- Bruce Babbitt, former Governor of Arizona and U.S. Secretary of the Interior
- Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
- Christopher Cox, former United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair
- Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy and Chair, Center for a New American Security
- Mark S. Fowler, former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair
- Fred T. Goldberg, Jr. former Partner and Commissioner of Internal Revenue at the Internal Revenue Service
- David J. Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior
- Carla Anderson Hills, former U.S. Trade Representative and United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary
- Roderick M. Hills, former SEC Chair
- Reed Hundt, former FCC Chair
- Garth Lagerwey, general manager of Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake.
- Kathryn Ruemmler, White House Counsel
- DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFLPA
- Arne Sorenson, CEO, Marriott International
- James J. White, Robert A. Sullivan Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School and author of a treatise on the Uniform Commercial Code (with Robert S. Summers)
- Lance Wickman – General counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Beth Wilkinson – Prosecutor in the Oklahoma City bombing case, former General Counsel of Fannie Mae.
- The American Lawyer Firm Profiles: Latham & Watkins. Americanlawyer.com (2012-01-01). Retrieved on 2013-12-23.
- ILRG Largest 250 Law Firms in the US. Ilrg.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-15.
- ILRG Listing of the 250 largest law firms
- Ashby Jones, "Latham & Watkins Breaks $2 Billion Revenue Barrier", Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2008.
- Latham.com, Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- WSJ.com blogs
- How Did Latham Become the Poster Child for Layoffs? « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law Schools, Law Suits, Judges and Courts + Career Resources. Abovethelaw.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-15.
- Kashino, Marisa (September 2010). "YOU'RE HIRED! WE WANT ALL OF YOU!". Washingtonian 45 (12). p. 20.
- The A-List 2013. Law.com (2013-06-27). Retrieved on 2013-12-23.
- The 2013 A-List: The Complete Report
- Vault.com, "Law Firm Rankings: Top 100 Law Firms," 2010, Law.com accessed 2010-05-19
- Vault.com, "Top 20 Firms to Work for," 2010, Vault.com accessed 2010-05-19
- "$4.84 billion acquisition". International Law Office. September 13, 2004. Retrieved October 18, 2009.
- "Rise of Latham & Watkins" (PDF). Vol. 7, No. 1. (M&A Journal). March 31, 2007. Retrieved October 18, 2009.
- "India Awards". Asia Law. December 2008. Retrieved October 18, 2009.
- Reckard, Scott (November 8, 2006). "Scientology groups to pay back $3.5 million". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 24, 2008.
- Gray, Tyler (2008-03-31). "Anonymous on Trial? Scientology Steps Up Skirmish". Radar. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Lat, David (2008-04-01). "Latham & Watkins to Free Stress Tests?". Above the Law. Archived from the original on 2008-04-05. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- Lee, Lisa; David Marcus; Amy Wu (2008-10-10). "Latham gilds Lilly's ImClone offer". The Deal. Retrieved 2009-10-18.
- "Yahoo-Maktoob.com acquisition". Mideast Legal Business Online. 2009-09-03. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
- Ingram, David (October 24, 2011). "A big gift for Bybee: Latham & Watkins gives judge $3.2 million worth of legal aid". The National Law Journal.
- "Latham Around the World". Retrieved 2014-06-15.