Following a rigorous eight-month selection process, London-based projects partner Bill Voge has been elected to take over from Latham & Watkins retiring global chair and managing partner Robert Dell, who leaves the firm after two decades in management and an increase in revenue from $260m at the start of his tenure to $2.285bn in the latest financial year.
Voge (pictured), whose appointment will take effect on 1 January 2015, emerged as a frontrunner to replace Dell in March, identified by a succession committee appointed on Dell’s announced retirement. The committee was chaired by New York litigation partner Miles Ruthberg, with the remainder of the group drawn from across Latham’s different offices and practices.
Voge, who also works in New York, joined 2,060-lawyer Latham & Watkins in 1983 and has held a string of leadership positions since making partner in 1991, including acting as global chair of the finance department between 2007 and 2008 and global chair of project finance between 2004 and 2007.
He served an eight-year term on the executive committee between 1998-2002 and 2008-2012 and has helped to spearhead Latham & Watkins’ global strategy and practice integration for markets outside the US.
Voge’s practice focuses primarily on project development and project financings and he has acted for project sponsors, banks, underwriters and other parties on a wide variety of electricity and oil and gas projects in the US and globally.
Dell said of his successor: ‘Bill brings an impressive mix of experience and leadership qualities to the role: astute strategic vision; superb judgment; smart business instincts; and, above all, strong character. He is clear-sighted and a consensus-builder who is highly attuned to our unique culture, client service and the external market forces driving change in the legal profession.’
Voge added: ‘Bob has driven our relentless focus on quality and client service and he has exemplified our culture in all that he has done. Bob is that rare leader that combines incredible humility and integrity with a tough, competitive drive. He is known for his fairness, judgment and selfless leadership, and in whose footsteps I hope to follow.’
Under Dell’s helm revenue at the top-five Global 100 firm rose from $260m in 1995 to $2.41bn during 2013, with profit per equity partner up from $550,000 to $2.5m, making it one of the most profitable US firms and one of the few that has achieved growth largely without merger.
Despite this organic approach, Latham’s number of offices has risen from 11 at the start of Dell’s term to 31 today and headcount under his watch has increased from 586 on 31 December 1994 – the day before he took over aged just 42 – to over 2,060.