Legal Business

Life During Law: Paul Dolman

I certainly didn’t have a burning desire to be a lawyer from the age of five years old. I definitely wasn’t one of those! I wanted to be an architect but you’ve got to be quite good at maths. I wasn’t.

My parents instilled in me a real work ethic from a young age and forced me to do lots of summer jobs where I learned the value of money. The worst one was probably working at Saxby’s pork pie factory. I was in charge of the jelly gun. Thousands of pork pies would come down a long conveyor belt and I had to put my gun in them and fill them with jelly. That was a challenging job to stay motivated in for sure. That probably put me off pork pies for life.

Legal Business

Latham scores lead role in Man Utd’s potential sale as US outfits advise on Tom Ford deal

Latham & Watkins has had a busy November, picking up several multi-billion-dollar instructions across the sports, retail and telecoms sectors. Among the other firms securing lead roles are US peers Skadden, Paul Weiss and Orrick and Magic Circle competitors Linklaters and Allen & Overy (A&O).

Following Latham’s lead role in the £4.25bn acquisition of Chelsea FC earlier this year, the firm has been instructed by Manchester United as it pursues a potential sale.

Legal Business

Life During Law: Robbie McLaren

University in my family was always something vocational. I hated science, so that was doctor and vet out the way. I did an accounting internship and found that just a bit dull. That really left law. That was basically it.

Studying law at university was awful. I enjoyed arts subjects at school, history and geography. I quickly realised that, when you’re studying at school, you’re rewarded for creativity. Studying law, you’re not. The first couple of years were just the building blocks of the legal system and it was very much – ‘this is what the rules are, you need to know them and apply them to the facts’. Overall, I’d give it a six out of ten, but the first two years were more like a three out of ten.

Legal Business

Full steam ahead: Squire’s Singapore office grows in commodities and shipping as Latham hires Linklaters partner in Germany

Lateral hiring was in full swing last week, as international firms bolstered their corporate, private equity, real estate and shipping capabilities, with partner hires across offices in Germany and Singapore.

In the Asia Pacific region, Joel Cockerell became the seventh new partner to join Squire Patton Boggs’ expanding commodities and shipping industry group in the firm’s Singapore office, following the recent arrival of partner Marco Crusafio to its Milan office.

Speaking to Legal Business, Cockerell said: ‘The firm’s growth in Singapore has been ongoing and this is one of the reasons why I chose to join the team. Many firms in the commodities and shipping space are either contracting or at best, remaining stagnant. This team has grown exponentially and are continuing to build.’

Barry Stimpson, managing partner of the firm’s Singapore office and co-lead of the commodities and shipping industry practice, said: ‘We have grown impressively over the last few years, even during Covid-19. Since Kate Sherrard’s arrival form Clifford Chance in January 2021, who specialises in the financing of maritime and offshore oil and gas assets, our presence has grown across four continents and this is important for our clients, as their world is becoming increasingly international.’

Qualified as a mariner and solicitor, Cockerell joins from HFW’s Singapore office and specialises in admiralty work, including vessel casualties, collisions, groundings, salvage, pollution, wreck removal and hull and machinery insurance claims. Prior to qualifying as a solicitor, Cockerell served for 12 years as an officer with the Royal Australian Navy.

Stimpson continued: ‘Joel’s arrival is incredibly significant, in terms of the market perception of us as a firm. There are many who simply do dry shipping work, but fewer and fewer firms can say they have somebody who is a mariner and has spent time at sea, who can do the big casualty work. This is a rare commodity and something we have been working to get ever since we started the group three years ago.’

According to Allianz’s (AGCS) safety and shipping review, South China, Indochina, Indonesia, and the Philippines remain the locations for shipping losses, but the total number of losses declined over the last year, representing a 57% decrease in the last decade. However, the number of casualties has risen, with machinery damage accounting for more than one-in-three incidents globally, followed by collision and fires. Cockerell noted that the casualties are getting larger, and more complex to handle so he is expecting to hit the ground running.

In the corporate sector, Ashurst’s Singapore ally, ADTLaw, hired Tao Koon Chiam and his team, including partners Xiaozheng Ko and Yi Ming Choo, and counsel George Kho, from Allen & Gledhill. Chiam previously co-led the firm’s venture capital practice and has now joined ADTLaw as head of M&A for Southeast Asia, bringing experience in private equity, venture capital, joint ventures, corporate restructuring, and M&A transactions.

Meanwhile in Germany, Latham & Watkins welcomed Carsten Loll to its real estate practice, where he will split his time between the firm’s Frankfurt and Munich offices. Loll, who previously headed up DLA Piper’s international and German real estate group, joins the firm after five years at Linklaters and advises on asset and share deals and portfolio transactions across all major asset classes, including offices, retail, and logistics. Loll is praised as ‘an excellent contact in all areas of real estate law’, and also ‘well-connected and recognised in the market’, in The Legal 500.

Speaking to Legal Business, global co-chair of the firm’s real estate practice, Michael Haas, said: ‘We are beyond excited to have Carsten Loll join our team and bolster our private equity real estate capability in the region. He is a talented lawyer with a fantastic reputation in the market. We are looking to consolidate our real estate practice in Europe, and Loll’s arrival will undoubtedly contribute to this growth.’

Continuing the trend in Germany, Shearman & Sterling saw the departure of Winfried Carli to Goodwin’s recently opened Munich office. Carli is the latest to join the private equity practice following a raft of hires from top tier firms, including Sidley Austin and Reed Smith. Carli handles domestic and cross‐border bank finance and restructuring matters, with a particular focus on advising private equity funds, debt funds and financial institutions on acquisition financings.

Legal Business

Latham becomes the first $5bn law firm club member as revenue soars 27%

Latham & Watkins has become the first law firm to break the $5bn revenue barrier as turnover spiked 26.7% to $5.489bn in the 2021/22 financial year.

Profit per partner also saw a comparable 26% surge to $5.71m from $4.52 last year.

The figures released on Monday (21 March) easily eclipsed last year’s still impressive results, which saw turnover increase 15% to $4.33bn from $3.768. Global lawyer headcount has also seen a notable increase, rising by 8% to 3,078, while revenue per lawyer grew 18% from $1.52m to $1.78m.

Global chair Rich Trobman hailed the results as a vindication of the firm’s overarching strategy: ‘2021 was another successful year for the firm and we are pleased with our strong performance and achievements. Our long-term vision, deep and diversified platform, and commitment to client service helped grow demand for our legal services across practices and markets. We combined our worldwide resources with the best talent, sector knowledge, and experience to drive positive outcomes for our clients across all industries.

‘I am particularly proud of the resilience and hard work of our people and how we have supported one another throughout the year, all the while staying focused on our clients and their evolving needs. Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in our global platform, execute on our strategy, and deliver great client service.’

The firm does not habitually release regional profit breakdowns, but the London office is understood to have posted a 30% jump in revenue, which would take the office’s top line to around $700m, further enhancing its reputation as one of the most potent foreign practices in the high-end UK legal market. Such a figure would comfortably outstrip last year’s estimation, which suggested a 20% increase up to around $540m.

There has been no shortage of investment in London either –seven lateral hires have been recruited over the course of the year. The majority of these came in the finance, capital markets and corporate groups, including Bruce Bell (restructuring, Linklaters), Paul Dolman (PE, Travers Smith), Thomas Bartlett (project finance, White & Case), Alex Martin (structured finance, Weil, Gostshal & Manges) and Shawn Anderson (capital markets, Kirkland). Elsewhere, James Lloyd (Orrick) and Helen Lethaby (Freshfields) joined the data privacy and tax groups respectively.

In addition to lateral hires, the firm is increasing its commitment to internal growth in the city. Nine London associates were part of the 2022 partner promotion round, five of whom have spent their whole career at firm.

On the transactional side, M&A, capital markets banking all recorded double-digit growth, as did the emerging companies practice and public company practices. Disputes, general litigation, antitrust, IP, securities and professional liability were similarly bullish.

The key sectors driving activity were reflective of the market more generally. Technology, healthcare and life science and energy were all up compared to last year, as were financial institutions, retail and media.

Latham’s numbers have been released amid anticipation that long-time rival Kirkland & Ellis will also surpass the $5bn revenue mark in the coming weeks.

The rivals routinely battle for top spot among the global elite, with Kirkland last year striding out in front by around $500m.

Legal Business

‘A platform that will thrive’: Latham bullish as blistering growth sees revenue hit $4.3bn alongside 20% PEP surge

Latham & Watkins has brushed aside pandemic-linked uncertainty to report a 15% revenue hike to $4.33bn, while profit per equity partner has hit $4.52m.

The pace-setting results announced today (16 March) mean the Los Angeles-bred giant has bolstered its financials for a fifth year running, with a 20% surge in PEP more than doubling the 10% increase to $3.78m over 2019 .

Latham added $566m to its top line in 2020, an increase of 15% on the $3.768bn of 2019 and revenue per lawyer rose 10% to $1.52m from $1.39m the previous year, even as lawyer headcount increased 5%.

Chair Richard Trobman (pictured) was upbeat as his predictions last year of continued double-digit growth came to pass, while noting that cost-savings were not a material aspect of the financials. ‘We are focusing on client demand. There was a significant uptick in the number of hours billed to clients and clients have recognised the value of our platform and the quality of the service we can deliver,’ he told Legal Business.

Trobman emphasised that the growth was not down to a particular outperforming practice area but to increased demand across transactions and disputes, especially in areas that are currently driving the global economy, such as tech, life sciences and financial services. ‘In capital markets, M&A and banking we are global market leaders and these increases have still outpaced the rest of the market,’ he added.

The message is borne out by the firm’s top 25 clients engaging Latham lawyers across an average of 26 offices around the world in 2020, while the top 50 clients enlisted its lawyers from an average 23 offices globally.

The firm does not officially disclose revenue for its London arm but Trobman said it performed ‘a little better than the firm at large’. By that reckoning, a 20% uptick in London turnover would mean that the City office now generates in the region of $540m, further enhancing its reputation as one of the most potent foreign practices in the high-end UK legal market.

Key mandates for the year have included advising NVIDIA in its $40bn acquisition of Arm from SoftBank, retailer New Look on its restructuring and insolvency-related litigation coming out of the pandemic, as well as acting for the banks on a €1.8bn credit line for TUI Group.

The firm also made some significant lateral hires in the City, not least at the start of 2020 as Latham renewed its push into London’s public M&A space with the hire of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s rising star Sam Newhouse and expanded its City emerging company capabilities through Taylor Wessing’s Mike Turner and Bird & Bird’s Shing Lo. Other notable additions in 2020 were structured finance partner Stephen Curtis from Clifford Chance, Mayer Brown restructuring partner Jessica Walker, M&A partner John Guccione from OMERS Infrastructure and capital markets partner Manoj Tulsiani from Linklaters.

The results also follow the announcement last Friday (12 March) that Latham has elected a successor to vice chair Ora Fisher in the form of New York tax partner and member of the executive committee, Lisa Watts. Watts joins Chicago partner and fellow vice chair Brad Kotler as she succeeds Bay Area partner Fisher, who held the position since October 2011 and will retire later this year.

Trobman insists it’s not all about the financials. ‘We’ve had an equally strong year, in extraordinary circumstances, on the things that make Latham a special firm – supporting our clients, one another and the community. There has been consistent high quality and each Latham lawyer has worked to achieve the best result for clients with a total lack of self-interest. Our focus on teamwork is never more evident than in the feedback we get from clients.’

He concluded on an optimistic note: ‘2021 will be another strong year. We will continue to invest and continue to control our destiny. I really believe that the best is yet to come. We have built a platform that will thrive irrespective of macro events and are well-positioned whatever may come.’

Of course, it has now become the annual ritual for Latham to become the top grossing law firm in the world, only to be usurped a few weeks later by Kirkland & Ellis. Since the Chicago-bred juggernaut won the competition in 2019 with $4.15bn turnover, the usual trouncing seems once again inevitable in 2020. The only question will be – by what distance will Kirkland overtake?

Legal Business

Legal Business Awards 2020 – US Law Firm of the Year

The entries have been assessed and our research completed: we are now delighted to reveal our US Law Firm of the Year for the 2020 Legal Business Awards.

This award highlights the US firm that has made the greatest progress over the past year in advancing its strategy, improving financial performance and winning instructions, particularly in the City. A large international presence is not a prerequisite for consideration for this award, although the judges will be looking for strong evidence of success in those foreign markets where the firm has offices.




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Winner – Latham & Watkins

Latham impressed the judges to beat rivals in this category after posting a second consecutive year of double-digit growth; a revenue surge to $3.768bn in 2019 and profit per equity partner of $3.78m. If that wasn’t enough, London growth exceeded the global rate, with the City office standing out as one the most potent European practices of any US player.

That growth continued against a backdrop of sustained investment in lateral hires for strategic practices and markets was a testament to the firm’s dominant position. Of 22 lateral hires globally, transactional and disputes hires in London included Victoria Sander, an insurance M&A partner from Linklaters; real estate partner Neil Ferguson from Jones Day; Jeremiah Wagner, a structured finance specialist from Cadwalader; antitrust and competition partner David Little from Cleary ; Chris Horton, capital markets, from Simmons & Simmons; and Patrick Mitchell, entertainment, sports & media from DLA Piper.

Noteworthy mandates included Spotify’s groundbreaking direct listing on the NYSE, advising the lead committee of creditors of Steinhoff on a €9bn restructuring, EQT on the financing for the negotiations to acquire Nestlé Skin Health for $10.2bn and advising CPPIB in the £4.77bn acquisition of Merlin, then the biggest ever take-private deal in the UK.

Since 2000, Latham has donated more than 3.5 million hours of legal services, worth $1.6bn, pro bono, while last year 93% of its lawyers worked on pro bono matters, with 14,000 hours donated in London across 95 new matters, including improving the legal outlook for stateless persons.

Latham earmarked London as a strategic opportunity some time ago and has been building its strength across all major practice groups in line with the vision. ‘The league table positions the firm occupies, the deals it has done, the clients it has won, and the prominent partners it has attracted are all testament to its continued growth and success in one of the most world’s most competitive legal markets,’ the firm declared.

Highly Commended – Paul Hastings

In 2019, Paul Hastings’ London arm built on its impressive track record of high-profile lateral hires, acquiring Steven Bryan from Hogan Lovells. Meanwhile, former London office head Ronan O’Sullivan was made global managing partner of the firm last year, underlining the key role London plays for this US powerhouse.

In October 2019, Paul Hastings moved into its new London office, taking the top two floors of 100 Bishopsgate, testament to the firm’s headcount and revenue doubling in the past five years.

Other highlights include Paul Hastings’ CSR and diversity work, as well as marquee mandates including advising CashEuroNet UK and US parent company Enova International on QuickQuid’s administration and the arrangers on a $3bn finance package underpinning Bain’s acquisition of Kantar from WPP.

Other nominations

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Akin Gump has built on its dramatic growth in the City in recent years since its acquisition of Bingham McCutchen’s London practice in 2014 with another solid financial year in 2019, with London revenue up to over $125m against a global revenue increase of 6% from $1.07bn to $1.135bn.


Cooley’s London branch recorded another year of sharp revenue growth as its City outpost outpaced the West Coast firm’s global revenue growth for the third consecutive year in 2019, rising 9% to $72.9m just five years after its launch.

Goodwin Procter

In another robust year for Boston’s Goodwin, its ever-expansive City arm has seen turnover lift 11% to $74m amid a year of aggressive investment. Notably, the firm’s City lateral tally since the start of 2019 also stood at 11, chiefly in the tech practice, and mainly from rival in the space, Taylor Wessing.


London outpaced global growth at Milbank, with revenue reaching $171.2m in the last financial year, an increase of 10% on $156m in 2018. Over the last five years, Milbank has upped City revenue an impressive 55%.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

Disputes heavyweight Quinn has continued its impressive growth in the City, with 2019 revenue at the firm’s London office increasing 20% to £100.6m. The firm also saw profits rise 11% to £67.2m, putting the office’s profit margin at 67% and cementing its place as a market leader among litigation-only practices in London.



Legal Business

Comment: Latham vs Kirkland means everyone else loses – They own the global elite now

Skadden Arps, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and, currently, Kirkland & Ellis – over the last 30 years these firms have all at one time had claims to have been the most influential law firms of their age, the pioneers that defined the top of the profession through dash, ambition and imagination.

And many senior lawyers would think that list is missing the name of the institution that looked unchallenged until the Kirkland effect gripped the market in the last three years.

That firm is Latham & Watkins, the Los Angeles-bred giant whose ascent was as predictable and well trailed as Kirkland’s was rude and disruptive. With a history of strong leadership, strategic clarity and an envied culture, its rise seemed unstoppable.

While no one expects the firm to dominate big-ticket deal work reserved for rarefied sections of Manhattan, on the wider international stage, spanning key hubs in the US and Europe, Latham was the pace-setter for global law through most of the 2010s.

Yet Latham enters the 2020s in a more ambiguous position than expected a few years back. That is partly due to the loss of its managing partner in 2018 under surreal circumstances that badly undercut Latham’s slick image. But the far more substantive issue has been the relentless challenge of Kirkland in many of its core markets, a campaign that has seen the Chicago outfit outstrip Latham in revenue, growth and profitability. Even worse, Kirkland is now regarded as a more potent performer in a number of Latham’s marquee business lines like leveraged finance, private equity and restructuring.

The fierce competition with Kirkland is concentrating minds in what is emerging as a more hard-edged outfit under the leadership of Richard Trobman.

For a firm that had forgotten how to play defence, this came as a shock and there is no doubt that a minority of Latham partners would like a more individualistic approach that responded more directly to the threat of Kirkland and its $10m-plus offers for rainmakers.

Other questions remain for a firm whose many strengths and sheer brand power often obscures its flaws. In public M&A, the firm’s US business remains patchier than the sales pitch, with a bench too shallow and lacking younger stars. Neither is it as apparent that Latham’s bond-centric, bank-heavy business is quite the asset it used to be. It is also debatable if even as an outfit as institutionally robust as Latham has been able to fill the vacuum left by the 2015 departure of Bob Dell, one of high-end law’s most revered leaders.

None of which changes the conclusion that Latham 2020 remains a singularly formidable outfit that will not be dislodged from the upper reaches of the global market anytime soon. If anything, the fierce competition with Kirkland is concentrating minds in what is emerging as a more hard-edged outfit under the leadership of Richard Trobman.

That shift will fall far short of reinventing Latham in Kirkland’s image. Despite common ground of strong leadership, expansive vision and an affinity for lev fin, these beasts are polls apart in culture and model, with Latham far more diversified and team-oriented than its buccaneering rival. But that also means that for broader-service work to major plcs, in many European markets Latham is still a more ominous threat for London rivals than Kirkland. Between them, with their collective City revenues closing in on $1bn, the pair are leaving precious little space for rivals. In short, global law in the 2020s belongs to this pair, everyone else is just along for the ride.

Click here for our feature on Latham & Watkins, ‘Heavy hangs the crown’

Legal Business

Heavy hangs the crown – Can Latham remain the global firm to beat?

Early March 2018 looked like the best of times to be a lawyer at Latham & Watkins. At the end of February the Los Angeles-bred giant had become the first law firm to report revenues above $3bn. This distinction crowned two decades in which it had been the most upwardly mobile firm in BigLaw, smoothly transitioning from West Coast challenger to global trailblazer, upsetting established hierarchies in New York and London along the way.

But by the end of the month, its 700 partners spread across 30 offices throughout the world were to get an email summoning them to a conference call. Latham’s two vice-chairs Richard Trobman and Ora Fisher informed the global partnership that the firm’s executive committee had accepted the resignation of global chair and managing partner, William Voge. Only three years into his role, Voge was leaving with immediate effect following a series of ‘voluntary disclosures’ relating to personal conduct.

Legal Business

Legal 500 Data: Behind the story

The Legal 500 : Latham & Watkins focus

The success of Latham & Watkins’ expansion globally in recent years is backed up by Legal 500 data. Fifty-seven of its practices have achieved top-tier rankings globally across The Legal 500 in 2019/20, compared to 40 in 2014-15. While only one of these 17 new top-tier rankings is in the UK, the firm’s growing dominance in London is still supported by the UK Legal 500 data.