Latham & Watkins’ leadership is moving out of London after four years with City-based chair and managing partner Rich Trobman is set to relocate to his native US just over a year into his first term at the helm of the firm.
The firm confirmed today (29 July) that Trobman is moving to its New York branch almost 20 years after relocating to London in 2000 in a symbolic shift for the partnership of the Los Angeles-born firm.
Trobman (pictured) said he was ‘immensely proud’ of what the firm had achieved in London and there was ‘tremendous opportunity for us to grow still further in a number of key markets, including New York’. He added: ‘I will continue to spend a considerable amount of time in London and as well as our offices across the globe.’
As Latham’s second consecutive leader based in London, Trobman stepped into the role for a five-year term in June last year , three months after predecessor Bill Voge resigned amid allegations of misconduct. London-based projects partner Voge had taken over from the firm’s leader of 20 years, California-based Bob Dell, in January 2015.
Trobman meanwhile joined Latham in 1991 as an associate in Los Angeles, moved to New York in 1993 and had been based in the London office since making partner at the turn of the Millennium. He is synonymous with the hugely successful build-out of Latham’s London practice – which turned over an estimated $375m in 2018.
The firm has continued growing its City operations over the last few months, with a number of high-profile hires including Linklaters insurance partner Victoria Sander, Clifford Chance’s infrastructure head Brendan Moylan, Allen & Overy’s finance partner Conrad Andersen and Sidley Austin restructuring partner Yen Sum.
Latham became last year the first law firm to ever report revenue of over $3bn for its 2017 financial year, before being passed by Kirkland & Ellis as the highest grossing firm in the world. In 2018 Latham added another $323m to its top line to $3.386bn but the gap with Kirkland increased as the rival turned over $3.76bn.
The only candidate based outside Latham’s US heartland in the race, Trobman saw off competition from seven other candidates from the firm’s DC, New York and Los Angeles offices to win the leadership race in March last year. While it was unusual for a US firm to elect two consecutive leaders based outside the US, Trobman said that his election was a ‘reflection of the fact that our partners have a global outlook and they believe in our global strategy’. The move announced today points to the fact that Latham’s global strategy is now focused on strengthening in the world’s largest and most competitive legal market.