Legal Business Blogs

City promotions drop for Latham in US-driven partnership round

Latham & Watkins has promoted 33 lawyers to partner, with its London outpost accounting for 15% of those getting the nod.

Effective from January 2020, the promotion round sees a marked decrease in the number associates made up in London, with five promoted compared to last year’s exceptional bumper round of nine.

Globally, the 33 promotions represent a slight increase on last year’s 31-strong round but have a much clearer focus on the firm’s heartlands, with 26 of the new partners based in the US.

Neil Campbell, Stuart Davis and Beatrice Lo were promoted in its London corporate practice, while Manoj Bhundia and David Ziyambi were added to the partnership in the firm’s City finance practice.

Five of the promotions were in its New York base, where the firm is focused on growing and where chair Rich Trobman relocated to in July.

The DC and Houston outposts saw four promotions each; Silicon Valley and Chicago three apiece; while only two were minted in Los Angeles. The other US promotions were spread across its Boston, Century City, Orange County and San Diego bases. The firm’s German offices in Munich and Hamburg got one new partner each.

Speaking to Legal Business the chair of Latham’s associates committee, Peter Gilhuly, cautioned against reading too much into the decrease in London promotions: ‘We study the recommendations carefully and we don’t have quotas at all. We find our numbers move up and down over time. London is obviously a very important office and we tend to promote a number of candidates there but promotion classes vary over time. Those numbers even out over time.’

He added that the lack of promotions in the firm’s Asian offices was due to a ‘pipeline issue’ rather than a lack of demand: ‘Demand is incredibly strong across our platform. If there are people qualified to be promoted they will be considered and promoted. There is no area where we are not promoting.’

Gilhuly described the firm’s transactional practices, which accounted for about 60% of the new promotions, as ‘red hot in a number of areas’: ‘We are having spectacular results in our transactional practices and a number of extraordinary candidates.’

He also expressed satisfaction at the fact that 33% of the new partners promoted were women, up from 29% last year: ‘We are very happy that organically our diversity numbers are rising. I am confident that because we have so many strong female candidates coming up those numbers should naturally tend to increase. We don’t believe in quotas – quality is first, and we are having some good results naturally.’

Latham’s partnership promotions are once again dwarfed by US rival Kirkland & Ellis, which earlier this month broke yet another record by promoting 141 lawyers to the partnership including 16 in the City.

Latham’s most recent set of financials confirmed the firm as the second highest-grossing in the world after Kirkland. In 2018, the Los Angeles-bred giant added $300m to its top line to hit $3.386bn.