Latham & Watkins LLP - The Inside View

The freedom to find their feet at a “global superpower in BigLaw” was a sweet deal for associates at Latham & Watkins.

Latham & Watkins’ junior associates aren’t messing around: “The firm is a global superpower in BigLaw.” There are different definitions of what qualifies as a ‘superpower,’ but most experts would agree on the following criteria: scope, money and power. Starting with money, Latham & Watkins was one of just two giants to make over $4 billion in revenue last year. Next: scope. The firm’s international network sprawls across 29 bases – 11 of which are in the US – housing more than 3,000 attorneys.

And then there’s power. Latham’s accolades are legion, with Chambers Global naming it among the best in the world in capital markets, banking & finance, climate change law, projects, corporate/M&A, and tax. On American soil, it picks up a total of 53 nationwide rankings from Chambers USA (alongside many state-specific accolades too), with top prizes in all of the above plus antitrust, energy, environment, IP, life sciences, REITs and several other practices. Go to chambers.com to see the full list. 

The Work



The firm doesn’t have a traditional headquarters, but its biggest office is New York. It recruits the biggest chunk of junior associates, followed by DC (which is the second largest US office). A large cohort is also spread across the California offices in LA, San Francisco, Orange County, San Diego, Silicon Valley and Century City.Newbies also join the remaining offices in Chicago, Houston, and Boston.

Incoming juniors spend 18 months sourcing work from various practice groups before declaring a preference for one of the firm’s five core practices: corporate/transactional; finance; litigation and trial, tax; or environment, land and resources.“The fact you’re not locked in is great,” one junior noted. “I’m a token example,” declared another who had worked on corporate, litigation, and tax matters in their first six months.

Initial assignments are filtered to juniors through ‘The Book’, which sounds like it could be something from a fantasy movie, but ultimately it’s a staffing coordination system. “They send a list of available matters to unassigned associates and people reply with the work they want,” one source clarified. “If you don’t see anything you like, but want to try emerging company work for example, you can talk to the coordinator and they’re more than likely to give you work in that space.”

"I’ve been on several smaller matters where I’m emailing the state agency and client directly."

Latham’s junior litigators had been involved in all sorts of permutations of litigation, including white-collar work, federal securities cases, and other complex litigation matters. “I’ve worked on various disputes, sanctions, expert controls, and FDA regulatory matters,” one told us. “They really try and give us a broad range,” another beamed. “I feel pretty blessed!” We heard DC is a “spearhead for regulatory work with agencies” like the DOJ and FTC,so associates there see “a lot of white-collar investigations.” Juniors had worked on investigations in an array of industries, such as pharmacy cases related to the opioid crisis and non-public investigations into large social media and technology companies. “On large investigations, there will be less direct client work, but I’ve also been on several smaller matters where I’m emailing the state agency and client directly,” one source found. Across offices, sources had drafted portions of briefs in their first year, and letters to state agencies in response to inquiries, and had helped to draft witness interview outlines. “My writing has improved a lot,” one junior warmly revealed. “I’ve drafted a lot of work product that has ultimately been used in a substantive way.” Junior litigators were on occasion pulled in to help on some behind-the-scenes work on intense corporate deals. “We would help on the diligence work for clients who were the underwriter in an IPO or a private equity company in an M&A deal,” one explained.

Litigation clients: Apple, Facebook, The Carlyle Group. Represented plant-based food startup Beyond Meat in its $1.5 billion IPO.

Over in corporate, M&A work in New York includes private equity and company-side deals. Associates in DC got experience with capital markets, while down in Houston,oil and gas work naturally shapes the corporate practice: “I’ve worked with some hospitality clients, and a few in tech, but 70% of my work is in the energy sector.” Californian sources reported “more client contact and acting as more of a player on the deal rather than just assisting,” while New York juniors found themselves “playing a more junior role doing diligence” on M&A deals. Associates on the West Coast raved about being able to "work with companies in brainwave technologies that are changing the world.”Juniors had also tried their hand in a few finance deals to help make changes to credit agreements or “file certain documents to make sure the proper securitization is taking place.”

Corporate clients: Virgin Galactic Holdings, T-Mobile, Dropbox, Shell Midstream Partners. Advised ancestry.com on its $4.7 billion sale to Blackstone.

We also spoke with juniors who’d found their footing in the firm’s restructuring practice. Due to the financial repercussions of COVID-19, we heard that debtor-side work had increased significantly. Latham has also reportedly developed a specialty in the oil and gas space for prepackaged bankruptcies, which entail striking a deal with creditors ahead of Chapter 11 proceedings. Juniors got to grips with purchase agreements as well as tax-related tasks, which for some “involved a lot of research for a fund formation.”

Restructuring clients: Global Eagle Entertainment, Emerge Energy Services, Barclays, Dairy Farmers of America. Represented Calfrac Well Services in its $725 million restructuring.

Career Development



Partnership was on the mind of some of the associates we spoke to. “From what I hear, they give you an honest assessment,” one shared, “and they’ll say whether you’re on the partnership or counsel track.” Juniors welcomed the firm’s approach to homegrown talent. “I see partnership as attainable,” said one. “You’re not going to have a lateral come in and usurp partnership potential.”

Long-term BigLaw commitments aren’t for everyone though, which is partly why the firm introduced a new career program for associates to speak to counselors in confidence. “They set it up to help us navigate what’s next,” one explained. “It’s a cool service and I’m very grateful for it.”

“Rather than viewing associates as competitors, I view them as resources."

Beyond this, “there’s a ton of resources.” Juniors pointed to a lot of training opportunities in the form of CLEs and various academies. Starting out, “you begin with summer academy, and then substantive training at each class year stage after that.” Juniors also welcomed “pretty formalized feedback,” which involved two reviews “read to you verbatim from anyone you’ve worked for for 50 hours of work a year.” All of this left one interviewee with the view that "without a doubt they want me to get better. I’m never left stranded.” Havingcooperative colleagues was also key to development. “Rather than viewing associates as competitors, I view them as resources,” one said. “We’re always bouncing ideas off each other.”

Culture



As an enormous organization, associates acknowledged “the firm is constantly trying to find the right balance of being a high-profile law firm meeting client demands and having a bunch of lawyers that are easy to work with.” We checked in with associates across offices to get a sense of how that balancing act plays out. In California, “there’s a surprising lightness of spirit from smart people doing a difficult and intense job.” One joked that “you can tell someone is a lateral just from the way they email. There’s a very ‘Latham’ way of asking for help, which is softer and always with a joke thrown in.”

“You can tell someone is a lateral just from the way they email. There’s a very ‘Latham’ way of asking for help, which is softer."

Over in DC, sources were hyperbolic with praise:“Everyone is the nicest you’ll meet.” Of course “the demands are really high and it’s an unavoidable amount of work, but I feel people care about my wellbeing and supervisors are incredibly reasonable.” Juniors also have a budget to socialize with mentors. Sources spoke highly of the social side of the firm overall. “The events are always incredibly well done,” one source found. “We had chocolate tasting with the best chocolatier in the country!” Others singled out a gameshow-themed holiday party, the bar/restaurant inside the New York office, weekly happy hours in DC, andvirtual cheeseboard-making classes during lockdown.

Hours & Compensation



Billable hours: 1,900 target

Juniors get a market bonus if they hit 1,900 hours, with staggered bonuses awarded based on greater hours “and reviews that merit such a bonus.” On hours, one source wryly remarked that “everyone generally agrees that there’s no way we’re not meeting the hours.” Make no mistake: Latham juniors are a busy bunch, as this associate attested: “I’ve worked every weekend for the last five months.” Hours varied by practice, but unsurprisingly corporate proved to be the most demanding. “In M&A, it’s been all-consuming,” voiced one junior who’d been “clocking in multiple 100-hour weeks.”

It means that when times are slower, “no one’s going to ask me to do a frivolous task or annoy me on the weekend.” Another source found these big demands were offset, in part, by compassionate senior figures: “Even if we are cogs in the machine, we’re not treated like that. A partner talked to all the associates and said we should take as much time off as we possibly can.” Our survey showed juniors had taken an average of eight days as vacation in the last year.

Pro Bono



Juniors commended the firm’s encouraging approach, noting that “pro bono is counted the same as billable hours and they count toward your bonus.” Some had gone far and beyond 20 hours, billing hundreds of hours (there's no cap on the number of pro bono hours that can be counted toward the annual billing target). The associates we spoke with had worked on asylum cases, transgender name change cases, helping “small businesses getting CARES Act loans,” landlord/tenant matters, prisoners’ rights litigation, and more.

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 175,565
  • Average per US attorney: 88

Diversity & Inclusion



Juniors agreed “the firm is politically and emotionally aware of the tensions across the country” following the BLM protests of 2020. “There’s an open dialogue about what the firm can do to improve,” one noted. Latham’s been backing the importance of allyship in law firm culture to hasten change and promote inclusion. You can listen to some of its attorneys discussing the subject on the Chambers CareersPodcast by clicking the link below.

Sources cited various diversity initiatives – such as bias training, diversity recruitment programs, and affinity groups for all strands of diversity. In 2019 Latham became an inaugural signatory of the American Bar Association’s pledge campaign, signing up to take necessary steps to improve mental health and wellbeing in the legal industry. The firm also established a Johns Hopkins medical center in its LA office, with facilities to care for attorneys’ mental and physical wellbeing; a similar center in the New York office also opened in May 2021.

>>TOP LISTEN: Tune in to hear several Latham lawyers discuss the importance of allyship.

Strategy & Future



“We have a dedicated team looking at market trends and that’s how the firm grows and invests in certain practices,” one junior explained. Sources singled out tech, communications and cybersecurity as one space where the firm is investing. As for its existing expertise, a  New York associate pointed out that “firms are scrambling for relationships with private equity clients, but we’re at the forefront of that and have no issues keeping business and being a leader in that realm.”

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus 

OCI applicants interviewed: 2,018 

Interviewees outside OCI:  447 

Latham’s broad approach to recruitment reflects its giant footprint on the legal scene. “All told, we visit or collect resumes from more than 60 law schools,” notes Abid R. Qureshi, a Litigation & Trial partner in Washington, D.C. and the Global Chair of the Recruiting Committee. “We seek the best and brightest legal talent, first and foremost. While we look at academic credentials for new associates, that’s not the entire barometer. We also look for leadership achievements, and characteristics that enhance Latham’s unique and diverse culture.” The firm accepts online applications starting in the spring and attends various career fairs in addition to OCI. A whole host of interviewers participate in OCI, including managing partners, practice group chairs, and associates. New this year, all applicants will be required to take a virtual assessment which will assess candidates on different skills and behaviors that are necessary to excel at Latham. Following the assessment, students will receive written feedback on their strengths for their personal reference.

This might all sound a bit intimidating, but associate sources assured us: “Collaboration and collegiality are a key part of Latham’s culture. Interviews are meant to be conversational, less about ticking through a resume and more about people as individuals,” said Chicago associate and member of the Recruiting Committee, Jenn Tian

Top tips: “Be yourself. We want to hear about experiences that demonstrate who you are, and that show us how you’ll contribute to our consensus-based, entrepreneurial-oriented culture. We value authenticity, inclusivity, and diversity as well as teamwork, creativity, and innovation. The stories you tell will reveal your values and competencies in a very natural way.” – Washington, D.C. partner and Global Chair of Recruiting Committee, Abid R. Qureshi

Callbacks 

Applicants invited to second stage interview: 669

Those invited to callbacks will meet with several attorneys over the course of several hours, and may also share a meal with a small group of attorneys. San Francisco tax partner and Vice Chair of the Recruiting Committee Julie Crisp tells us: “As much as possible, we try to match candidates with Latham lawyers who share their interests, or who can best answer particular questions candidates have. We welcome candidates to share that information with us during OCI or subsequent follow-ups—we recognize that candidates are trying to evaluate a number of firms on various criteria, and we want to make sure that callbacks are engaging, informative and relevant for all concerned.”  Interviewers and questions vary depending on the candidate and location, but candidates are urged to share their passions and experiences. Crisp notes too that candidates should prepare themselves for a long day. “Yes, it can be an intense process, with lots of talking, questions, and new faces,” she says. “But we hope it’s fun too. After all, you’re getting a chance to meet people who one day may be your supervisors, mentors, colleagues, and friends.”   

Top tips: “Take some time ahead of the interview to think about what you want to share. We want to hear about you, and we want to get to know your authentic self. Consider how your personal and professional experiences have gotten you to this moment in time, and how those experiences make you the right fit for Latham.” – San Francisco partner and Global Vice Chair of Recruiting Committee, Julie Crisp

Summer program 

Offers: 449

Acceptances: 227

Candidates who are fortunate to secure a spot on Latham’s summer program will take part in the firm’s unassigned program, where they can explore 50+ practice groups. The system is entrepreneurial and informal — summer associates are free to pursue projects that they’re interested in, including pro bono work. Qureshi tells us: “Our firm has a deep commitment to training and developing lawyers at every stage of their career, including summer associates. Our Summer Academy brings summer associates from across the globe for several days of networking, training, professional development, and socializing.” Associates who had gone through the program encouraged summers to “try to strike a balance between getting substantive work and getting your feet wet with networking and getting to know people around the office. The firm is really geared towards balancing fun with work.”  

Top tips: “Like OCI and callbacks, the summer associate program offers you an opportunity to not only get to know Latham but to figure out what kind of lawyer you’d like to be. It’s an excellent chance to ask questions, attend training sessions, explore practice areas, and network with lawyers across the firm. While law school teaches you about the rigors and intellectual side of the law, the summer associate experience can help teach you about the practical side of being a lawyer.”– New York partner and member of the Recruiting Committee, Nicole Fanjul

Covid-19 changes

In 2020 Latham held a substantive and rewarding summer associate program that took place virtually. The firm used advanced digital tools and technologies to ensure a successful program filled with meaningful substantive experiences and virtual exposure to the firm’s people, work, and culture. Summer program highlights include exclusive panels with speakers from Nasdaq and RBC Capital Markets, as well as workshops with world-renowned law professors on legal writing, negotiations, and authenticity in the workplace.

The 2021 Summer Program will be held remotely, running from May 17 through July 23. The firm will continue to monitor and follow government and health agency regulations in the event it is safe to pivot to an in-person program.

“We look forward to welcoming our newest colleagues to the firm. We are confident that our summer program will once again be a rewarding, successful, and engaging experience for our newest colleagues.” – Abid R. Qureshi, Chair, Global Recruiting Committee.

And finally… 

“‘It begins with you’ is more than just a tagline for us. We want candidates who take charge of their careers by asking thoughtful questions, by being their authentic selves, and by demonstrating an interest in practicing law at Latham. We’re very proud of our unique culture, and we are eager to share it with law students.” – San Diego partner and member of the Recruiting Committee, James Mann 

 

Latham & Watkins LLP

1271 Avenue of the Americas,
New York,
NY 10020
Website www.lw.com

  • Number of domestic offices: 11
  • Number of international offices: 18
  • Worldwide revenue: $4.334 billion (FY2020)
  • Partners (US): 559
  • Associates (US): 1,314 (As of 12/31/20)
  • Contacts 
  • • Main recruitment contact: James Boyle, Director of Associate Recruiting
  • • Hiring partner: Abid R. Qureshi, Global Recruiting Committee Chair; Julie Crisp, Vice-Chair US; Deborah Kirk, Vice-Chair EAME
  • Main diversity contact: Lauren Clairicia, Director of Global Attorney Diversity & Inclusion
  •  Diversity officer: Kem Ihenacho, Global Chair of the Diversity Leadership Committee
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2021: 185 (US)
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 1Ls: 17, 2Ls: 223,  SEO Interns: 2, Ron Brown Scholar Pre-Law Fellows: 31
  • Summer salary 2021: 1Ls: $3,943/week
  • 2Ls: $3,943/week
  • Split summers offered? First 8 weeks at Latham required
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? Case by case

Main areas of work



 Corporate; environment, land and resources; finance; litigation and trial; tax.

Firm profile



  Latham & Watkins’ extensive practices, one-firm culture, and global footprint provide associates with virtually limitless career opportunities. The firm includes more than 3,000 lawyers across 29 offices and 14 countries. Associates harness the resources of a fully integrated firm that values integrity and diverse perspectives. Every associate receives exceptional training and support to ensure seamless collaboration on projects that span time zones, teams, and offices in the world’s major financial, business, and regulatory centers. As a result, associates play an essential role in addressing clients’ most important and complex challenges.

Recruitment



  Latham & Watkins recruits students with incredible legal minds who are also incredible people; the firm values transparency, respect, innovation, collaboration, and diversity. As a meritocracy, Latham seeks out candidates who have demonstrated they can contribute to the firm’s culture through their initiative, communication skills, complex thinking, willingness to assume responsibility, resilience, and judgment.

Latham recruits students from more than 150 law schools through campus interviews, job fairs, law school resume collections, and online applications for the firm’s Summer Program, 1L and 2L Diversity Scholarship Programs, 2L Practice Group Scholars Programs, Diversity Leadership Academy, and other signature programs for law students.

For more information about campus interview dates and online applications for US offices, visit www.lwcareers.com.

Summer program components:
During the 10-week program, summer associates meaningfully engage in litigation, corporate, finance, tax, environmental, and pro bono matters. They have opportunities to connect with each other as well as assigned mentors and senior Latham leaders during networking and training events. A highlight of the program, Summer Academy, immerses the summer associates in Latham’s collaborative and collegial culture through virtual training seminars and social events with Latham lawyers.

Social media



Recruitment website:www.lwcareers.com
Linkedin:latham-&-watkins
Twitter:@lathamwatkins
Facebook:lathamwatkins

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Antitrust (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: Private Equity: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 2)
    • Insurance: Policyholder (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 1)
    • Life Sciences (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
    • Media & Entertainment: Transactional (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use (Band 1)
    • Technology: Transactions (Band 1)
    • Venture Capital (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 1)
    • Healthcare (Band 1)
    • Healthcare: Pharmaceutical/Medical Products Regulatory (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Litigation (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 1)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Media & Entertainment: Regulatory (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Technology & Outsourcing (Band 2)
    • Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A & Private Equity (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 2)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 3)
    • Private Equity: Venture Capital Investment (Band 1)
    • Technology (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Environment (Band 3)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Media & Entertainment: Corporate (Band 3)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Debt & Equity (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 3)
    • Antitrust (Band 1)
    • Antitrust: Cartel (Band 1)
    • Appellate Law (Band 2)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 1)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Issuer Counsel (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Manager Counsel (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: High-Yield Debt (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Investment Grade Debt: Issuer Counsel (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Investment Grade Debt: Manager Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: CLOs (Band 2)
    • Capital Markets: Structured Products (Band 2)
    • Climate Change (Band 1)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Derivatives (Band 1)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 1)
    • Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 2)
    • Energy: Electricity (Transactional) (Band 1)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) (Band 2)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 1)
    • Environment (Band 1)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 1)
    • FCPA (Band 3)
    • Financial Services Regulation: Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement) (Band 3)
    • Government Contracts: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Healthcare: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 1)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
    • International Trade: CFIUS Experts (Band 4)
    • International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions (Band 2)
    • International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337) (Band 2)
    • Leisure & Hospitality (Band 1)
    • Life Sciences (Band 1)
    • Life Sciences: Regulatory/Compliance (Band 2)
    • Privacy & Data Security: The Elite (Band 4)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: High-end Capability (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 3)
    • Projects: LNG (Band 2)
    • Projects: Oil & Gas (Band 1)
    • Projects: Power (Band 1)
    • Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy (Band 1)
    • Real Estate (Band 3)
    • REITs (Band 1)
    • Retail: Corporate & Transactional (Band 2)
    • Securities: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Securities: Regulation: Enforcement (Band 2)
    • Sports Law (Band 2)
    • Startups & Emerging Companies (Band 2)
    • Tax: Controversy (Band 1)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 2)
    • Technology (Band 2)

More from Latham & Watkins

Latham: Get to know us

More about the firm's summer program:

Latham's 1L fellowship program:

Latham's 2L diversity scholar program:

Latham's diversity leadership academy:

Latham's 2018 pro bono annual review:

Visit the firm's careers website.

Latham & Watkins: Why Latham?