Latham & Watkins
A global leader in finance and litigation, Latham & Watkins is one of the largest and most popular firms in London amongst lawyers. The firm practices in all major jurisdictions worldwide and employs more than 2,000 solicitors across its 31 offices.
Friendly, hard-working, prestigious.
- The work is top class and trainees get lots of responsibility from the outset
- Sociable, supportive environment with very little hierarchy
- The partnership keeps you well informed and all levels are involved in decisions through committees
- Salaries are amongst the highest in the City
- Frequent and well-organised formal training
- Expect long and demanding hours at times
- Only 20 days of holiday per year
- You're always on-call
- No canteen or gym in the offices
- Billable target can be stressful
Since its inception in Los Angeles some eighty years ago, Latham & Watkins has spread its wings and become one of the largest international law firms around, with London and New York its main business centres. Latham practices in all major jurisdictions: the US, EU, Middle East and Asia, and regularly represents companies doing business in Latin America, Africa and the emerging markets. A global leader in corporate, environmental law, finance, litigation and tax services, Latham employs more than 2,000 lawyers across 31 offices worldwide. To its credit, Latham & Watkins became the first US-heritage firm to generate revenues over $2 billion (in late 2007).
Latham & Watkins was established in glitzy LA in 1934, by Dana Latham and Paul Watkins. The firm didn’t make it to the City until 1990, opening in London with a relatively low profile at first, and focussing on project finance. Lateral hires in London took the office to over 130 lawyers, bolstering its ranks in banking and finance, competition, corporate, employment, litigation, outsourcing, and tax law. Meanwhile, Latham busily planted seeds all across Europe, and offices sprouted up in Brussels, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Paris and Rome. And after opening two offices in Spain (Barcelona and Madrid) in 2007, Latham is now one of only a handful of US firms to have a strong presence there. More recently, the firm has focussed expansion on the Middle East, after recognising the region as a growing market. New offices have opened in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai and Riyadh.
Latham is the only global law firm with no headquarters. And while it was founded in LA, the offices in NY are now larger. The firm's chairman is based in San Francisco and the executive committee members are spread around the world, including two in London. This means that no office reports to another, and that London has as much autonomy and power as any of the US sites.
Latham & Watkins’ practice was built on the back of investment banks in the US and it used those links in establishing a strong office in London. The firm's five key practices are corporate, finance, litigation, tax and environment, and land and resources. Within these departments, Latham's main operational areas are banking and finance, capital markets, restructuring and insolvency, M&A, international arbitration, structured finance, litigation, real estate and tax. The importance of the London office means that lawyers based there are often involved in some of the firm’s major international deals. Latham’s UK clients include large investment banks and financial institutions, UK and international corporates, private equity houses and governments. London lawyers work closely with teams from other offices, especially in Europe, and the City office is full service.
The sense of unity and partnership at Latham & Watkins means that every new partner wishing to defect from another firm has to go on a world tour, being interviewed by as many as 100 Latham lawyers before joining. Furthermore, lawyers who sit on firm’s associates committee have a say over who is promoted to partner from within. Partners are paid on work they generate – not just for themselves, but for their colleagues as well – rather than on hours billed or seniority. This gives them an incentive to share their work with other partners and solicitors. This approach is popular with the firm's lawyers and means that staff satisfaction in the London office is high.
Latham & Watkins actively encourages pro bono within its ranks. In 2010 alone, Latham provided almost 200,000 hours of pro bono legal services, valued at $91 million to local communities around the globe. Some of the local causes the firm is involved with include assisting Human Rights Watch facilitating funding agreements for Hand in Hand (a charity that battle poverty), and lending support to Straight Talking – a UK charity with the twin aims of reducing the rate of teenage pregnancy and fostering education. Latham also fights for the disadvantaged by representing pro bono clients in a number of trials and hearings.Read all 391 employee quotes
The London office launched its UK trainee programme in 2006, and has since ramped up its recruiting – from at least 10 trainees in 2008, to more than 15 in 2010, and 28 in 2011. Due to this small intake, competitiveness amongst trainees is rare and ‘exposure to some of the world's largest deals’ is high. During the training contract trainees do four six-month seats, with the compulsory ones including corporate, finance and litigation. If you fancy going abroad, there are also plenty of opportunities to do seats in Hong Kong, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyadh, Brussels or Moscow.
While a stellar academic record is a must, Latham & Watkins’ trainees come from a broad spectrum of universities and are carefully vetted with an emphasis on personal qualities and potential, rather than just strong CVs. Embracing responsibility and displaying initiative are not the only recipes for success as a trainee – the firm specifically wants people who are ‘intelligent, hardworking and independent, but most of all, down-to-earth with good interpersonal skills’. The firm looks for a good fit so a genuine interest in Latham & Watkins and in corporate law is a must.
It’s also a definite bonus to undertake a vacation scheme as Latham & Watkins aims to recruit most of its trainees through its Easter and summer schemes. However, there are a couple of places available outside of these schemes, which can be earned through the application form and interview process.
The hiring process is straightforward: submit an application form and, if successful, you’ll be invited to three rounds of interviews. Each interview is with a partner and an associate and will mainly focus on your application form and your commercial awareness. Trainees describe interviews as ‘very informal, relaxed and welcome’, a welcome contrast to the confrontational style some firms are known for. During the half-day assessment, candidates meet six associates/partners over three 30-minute interviews. There is also a presentation on the firm with details of what candidates can expect during their training contract, followed by a lunch with the trainees.
‘The best way to get into the firm is through a vacation scheme’ claim several trainees and unsurprisingly the vac scheme hiring process is similar and as competitive as it is for a training contract. The firm’s London office offers two-week summer and Easter placements to 30 law and non-law students. You will usually get to sit in two departments of your choice and could get involved with transactional work, pro bono issues or client meetings. Expect regular presentations by various associates to give you an idea of the firm and what life as trainee is like. At the end of the scheme, everyone is offered an interview for a training contract.
Lateral associate candidates are ordinarily screened by two partners and are then brought in to meet a further 10 to 12 lawyers. The second interview generally lasts 2.5 hours, and is made up of a cross-section of partners and associates from each of the departments within the office. All interviewers write reviews on the candidate, which are given detailed consideration before a final decision is made.
Latham & Watkins Graduate Recruitment Info
Tel: +44 (0)20 7710 1000
Training Contracts: 31st July 2013
Easter: Applications open 1st October 2012 to 31st December 2012
Summer: Applications open 31st October 2012 to 31st January 2013
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 2,000
No. of lawyers in London: 220+
Trainee intake: 28
Trainees retained: 92% (Sept 2012)
Approx. no. of applications per year: 1,000
LATHAM & WATKINS: 2013 LAW RANKINGS
# 10 Most Reputable Law Firm (7.05/10)
# 1 in Salary (9.22)
# 1 in Pro Bono (9.00/10)
# 1 in Culture (8.90/10)
# 1 9Tie) in Career Prospects for Solicitors (8.00/10)
# 2 in Trainee Retention (9.38/10)
# 2 (Tie) in Diversity (9.00/10)
# 3 in Overall Satisfaction (8.78/10)
# 4 in Informal Training & Mentoring (8.50/10)
# 4 in Selectivity (8.71/10)
# 7 in Partner & Solicitor Relations (8.00/10)
# 8 in Green Initiatives (7.63/10)
# 10 (Tie) in Solicitor Training (7.00/10)
# 14 (Tie) in Offices (7.67/10)
1st year trainee: £42,000
2nd year trainee: £45,000
Newly qualified: £96,970
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The "learning on the job" approach is definitely the main focus of your training. Supervisors, (including partners), are willing to review your work and provide valuable feedback. You also have a mid-seat review and an end of seat review with comments from multiple associates/partners.Second year traineeHelpful?
I have been given a variety of tasks, ranging from drafting a statement of claim, which involved considerable responsibility and client interaction, to more administrative tasks, such as bundling and court filings. I have also been asked to draft other documents for clients, research specific legal issues and review documents for disclosure purposes.First year traineeHelpful?
Pro bono works counts towards billable hours. There are annual awards for completing pro bono work.First year traineeHelpful?
PRIME initiative, two Centrepoint young people work here at any one time (and can be kept on in permanent roles), etc.First year traineeHelpful?
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London EC2M 3XF
Tel: +44 (0)20 7710 1000
No. of worldwide offices: 31