What's the Real Deal with Latham

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What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:48 pm

I'm thinking of taking an offer with Latham and trying to figure out if the Latham hate is really justified.

Here is what I know:

-They laid off a ton of people, more than most firms
-They laid off first years, devastating many careers
-They emailed a few months before the layoffs to say there wouldn't be layoffs
-They had similar layoffs in the early 90s

What I am trying to figure out is how this should factor into my decision.

-On one hand, I can understand the sentiment that those in charge at Latham don't care about their associates based on this. They only care about money and I can understand not wanting to work at a place where management feels that way.

-Additionally, if the shit hits the fan again, Latham associates could be more at risk than those at other firms.

-On the other hand, it still seems like it is a great firm. Its chambers rankings are spectacular and its rankings in vault and amlaw are also very strong. Additionally, after the layoffs, it seems that Latham is more lean similar firms and it seems generally accepted that less leverage is better for associates. The people I met there all seem great and at least put on the face that they are really happy there. Also, before the recession it seems like it was a firm really headed in the right direction.

-I have also talked to several people in the market where my offer is (Not NY or LA) and they all have great things to say about Latham.

Overall, it seems like it is still a top firm, with top partners and top clients that seems pretty well respected by those in the legal community outside of current law students and junior associates.

Basically my question is how much Latham's previous conduct should factor into my decision and why it would really have an effect on someone who will start as an associate 2 years from now.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:58 pm

From what I can gather, they haven't changed their model at all. They will destroy careers again.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:59 pm

I heard they hate young lawyers, and are on a vendetta to ruin as many careers as possible.
If you look at their hiring record, it is clear that they over-hired right before a huge recession, which Roubini had predicted, and we all knew was coming.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:04 pm

There Will Be Blood starring Bob Dell & Mark Flagel

http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thr ... c#14643762

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:05 pm

TBH, you're not going to find an objective answer here (if there is such a thing as an objective answer). Too many people knew people who were affected by the layoffs. I found this website helpful: http://lawshucks.com/layoff-tracker/ in that it showed that, although Latham was particularly ruthless with their layoffs, they did not do the most. I think it's also important to keep in mind that they don't seem to have done the stealth layoffs the way other firms did. That's not to say that they didn't do any, but just consider whether you'd rather have it come in one fell swoop or continue behind closed doors for months or even years. The fact is, almost any firm would lay people off if need be regardless of whether it has the history of doing so. I'm not advocating that you do or don't take the position with Latham, I'm just trying to point out some positives because most people on this board are quick to point out the negatives (and positives and negatives come with any decision).

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:10 pm

OP:

Right, I guess I am just trying to figure out what separates Latham from the other firms that conducted layoffs besides that Latham laid off first years.

-Someone mentioned it is the business model. Does this mean that Latham hires a ton of associates during boom times with the idea of laying them off during down times? Is this that different from other firms? It seems that Latham is less leveraged than other firms, especially in the market I am looking at.

Additionally, at the office I am considering, Latham only laid off a few people, not any different than other firms in the market. Should the different offices be any consideration or should I look at the firm as a whole and consider what happened in NY and LA?

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby YourCaptain » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:-Someone mentioned it is the business model. Does this mean that Latham hires a ton of associates during boom times with the idea of laying them off during down times? Is this that different from other firms? It seems that Latham is less leveraged than other firms, especially in the market I am looking at.


Not with the purpose of laying them off, but Latham is known for being the vanguard in over-hiring and then scrambling to correct.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP:

Right, I guess I am just trying to figure out what separates Latham from the other firms that conducted layoffs besides that Latham laid off first years.

-Someone mentioned it is the business model. Does this mean that Latham hires a ton of associates during boom times with the idea of laying them off during down times? Is this that different from other firms? It seems that Latham is less leveraged than other firms, especially in the market I am looking at.

Additionally, at the office I am considering, Latham only laid off a few people, not any different than other firms in the market. Should the different offices be any consideration or should I look at the firm as a whole and consider what happened in NY and LA?


As far as whether it's their business model, I don't know if conducting a large round of layoffs once every 18 years ('91 and then '09) is considered a business model. I also don't know if it could really be said to be different from most other firms aside from the fact that they didn't seem to (or felt they couldn't afford to) care about the PR hit they took for the layoffs. When I was inquiring into the financial health of a V5 I got an offer from (that isn't known to have done layoffs), an associate told me that they don't have layoffs but instead they have "increasingly aggressive performance reviews." IMO, you can call it what you want but if you have a job one day and the next you don't, you've been laid off. To answer your second question, I'm not sure, which is not very helpful. It sounds to me like you really want to go to Latham and want someone to tell you that it's not a risky bet, which people can't honestly do at very many firms. If your gut says Latham, I would say to go to Latham and see what happens. Realistically, as much as you'd like to be deciding for the future, you're really only deciding for the summer and if things tank before then, you have another opportunity to look elsewhere. Also, where else are you deciding between? Are those firms more "financially secure"? And if so, how do you know?

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:24 pm

I am in the same position as the OP. To call Latham a destroyer of careers is a bit silly because if you haven't noticed, law firms operate as a business and have to keep their PPP competitive with other firms to retain talent. In a downturn that means loss of (first year) associate (and non-producing partner) jobs. Some firms will be more trigger happy than others, but at the end of the day, business demands will dictate decision-making. No firm is immune from this reality. Latham was the most visible but not the only offender. Unless you have an offer at a firm that (honestly) cut no one during the downturn there is no reason you shouldn't take Latham if that is where you are leaning.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:26 pm

Anon b/c I summered there and will be going back.

First, a lot of this depends on your office. Some offices (read, not LA or NY) are leaner as it is and did not have the same difficulties as the firm as a whole. Those smaller offices weathered everything better and were almost forced to lay off so that the pain was spread across offices.

I enjoyed the firm. They appear to be more conservative in their hiring and are extremely aware of the hit they took in image and everything. Further, the office I worked in actually is seeking fewer summers this year than last (which had a better than expected yield). Associates I've spoken to lately tell me they are very busy (litigation), so that's a good thing as well.

Just like you won't get a straight answer about GULC at TLS, you get a lot of colored perspectives on Latham - not only from people whose friends were laid off, but just from the general groupthink.

But you should also consider your other offers, and we can give you better perspectives if you tell us what they are.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:36 pm

OP:

I have an offer from another firm in the same market which seems slightly less prestigious (think V50ish if that matters). I really liked that firm as well but stacking it up looking at chambers rankings and talking to lawyers I know it seems Latham has the better reputation. Also the firm has a better reputation in corporate and I am definitely leaning towards litigation. However the firm is known to be very conservative with its hiring and seems to be on very strong financial footing.

Like someone observed earlier, I do want to take the Latham offer, and am kind of looking for someone to tell me its ok, but am concerned about all the hate the firm seems to get and am just trying to see how much of it is really justified

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby rayiner » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:47 pm

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Last edited by rayiner on Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 1:57 pm

OP, did the v50 firm in the same market recently (within the last two years) go through an international merger? If so, I might've seen this (or a similar issue) in another thread. If that is the case, there are red flags in the case of the other firm also. IMO, as I said earlier, if your gut says to go with Latham, you should go with Latham. I think this is especially true if you're looking at a less leveraged office. Maybe it would make you feel better to ask your career center to put you in touch with associates who were there from '07-ish on and could speak to pre- and post-layoffs? Obviously these people's experiences will be colored by not being laid off, but I did this at every firm I was considering and was shocked how honest people were about the sneaky ways their firms were laying people off, the atmosphere in the offices, etc. I really do think you have to trust your own instincts more, though, than a message board full of random people you've never met and ATL.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Wavelet » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:10 pm

The focus so far has been on Latham's tendency to ramp up hiring in boom times and conduct mass layoffs come bust time. Another consideration, I think, is what the economic landscape will look like in two years. After all, associates lose under this system only if there's a bust in their first or second year.
Last edited by Wavelet on Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:21 pm

OP: Three broad points.

1) What's good for the firm is not necessarily good for the associates. I would never counsel someone to go to Latham over say Cleary or DPW for M&A, despite the latter's Band 2 nationwide ranking in M&A and the former's Band 1 ranking. Things that influence Chambers ranking: depth and size of practice group, etc, don't necessarily influence the training you get as an associate.

2) Whether Latham is the right choice is relative. Pre-ITE, Latham was at #7, commensurate with it's Chambers rankings. People would choose between Latham, Cleary, Simpson, Skadden, and to a lesser extent DPW/S&C/Cravath. Now, it's probably seen as below Kirkland/Gibson/Paul Weiss as a destination. If you're choosing between Latham and a firm outside the V25 probably it's worthwhile, but in terms of recruiting it's no longer a "peer firm" with those around its Vault ranking.

3) Equating stealth layoffs and Lathaming is disingenuous. Latham's leverage went from ~5 to ~3 post Lathaming. They lost like 20-30% of their associates in some offices. Leveraging up during boom cycles and purging during busts is in no way the same as having more aggressive performance reviews to force a little extra attrition. It was also almost certainly a bad business decision in the long run. When you factor in the costs of recruiting new associates and laterals and severance for people laid of, it's quite likely cheaper to have an associate sitting around billing at half capacity than to fire one and have to re-hire 6-12 months later (which is what Latham did). They were betting that the downturn would be more protracted than it was, and lost the bet.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby okinawa » Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:45 pm

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby itbdvorm » Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:51 pm

FWIW, if you like it there, and they're strong in the practice groups you're interested in, I'd say go for it. Really think the biggest difference was Latham was honest and open about things. I've known way too many people at firms that people seem to be counseling people to go to over Latham who were "pushed out" / "laid off", etc., to really see that much of a difference.

Choosing firms based upon PR, groupthink and abovethelaw is not the best way to go about your career.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby imchuckbass58 » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:14 pm

Here's my view: They're a very good firm that's strong in many areas with a culture that people like. But, they have a track record of bad business decisions (overleveraging) and if times get tough (which they very well may), they won't hesitate twice to screw over associates to make up for it (which, believe it or not, is not true of a lot of other V10s/V20s that by and large took a PPP hit rather than do mass layoffs).

So there's no objective reason not to go there. But, Latham is not uniquely strong in any practice area, so if you have an offer from a peer firm, which is likely just as strong as Latham in most practice groups and did not have a very strong fit preference for Latham, I don't see why you wouldn't go to the peer firm. If you're choosing between Latham and weaker firm, I think it's totally reasonable to go to Latham.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:36 pm

I had a choice between Winston Chicago and Latham Chicago and chose Latham. I mulled this over for awhile and went back and forth, talking to past and present associates at both firms; but in the end, I just think I would be happier at Latham. I love the people I met and if I'm going to spend that many hours a day somewhere, I'd rather it be with people I really like. There was nothing wrong with the people at Winston, I just didn't click quite as well. Latham at least laid people off all at once and I heard they did give a 6 month severance package. I know of firms that are still laying people off. In the end I could get laid off from anywhere, think. That being said, it could have been the totally and completely "wrong" choice (whatever that is - I subscribe to a personal philosophy that says there are no accidents and what's for you won't go by you) but for now, I'm happy. FWIW

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby person123 » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:22 pm

I can understand people being worried about Latham's business model, etc. Financial stability and prudence should be considered in any decision-making process.

On the other hand, I think that some of the moralistic anti-Latham views are misguided. A "Lathamed" first-year associate received $80,000 on his/her way out the door. I could live and service my loans for two years without doing any work on $80,000. Most of my friends outside of the T14 bubble would kill for that kind of money. And don't forget that we BigLawyers are crucial participants in an economic system that routinely lays off working-class people without offering anything other than some puny unemployment checks. So the moralistic Latham critics should try to keep things in perspective.

I realize, of course, that most first-year BigLaw associates start making financial commitments (e.g. sign a year lease on an upscale apartment) in anticipation of future income. Anyone in that boat would have trouble living on $80,000 for over a year. So don't put yourself in that boat, whether you go to Latham or anywhere else!

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Cogburn87 » Sun Sep 25, 2011 11:06 pm

person123 wrote:On the other hand, I think that some of the moralistic anti-Latham views are misguided. A "Lathamed" first-year associate received $80,000 on his/her way out the door. I could live and service my loans for two years without doing any work on $80,000. Most of my friends outside of the T14 bubble would kill for that kind of money. And don't forget that we BigLawyers are crucial participants in an economic system that routinely lays off working-class people without offering anything other than some puny unemployment checks. So the moralistic Latham critics should try to keep things in perspective.


This is stupid.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby dood » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:37 am

in before "never forget"

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:43 am

Would rather be part of a massive layoff than be stealthed for "performance reasons." In the former situation I get severance and I don't have as much of a black mark when looking for a new job. In the latter situation, some firms used the situation to provide no severance, whereas other firms didn't even provide as much severance as Latham, and on top of that stealthed associates looked like they were fired because they were incompetent, which put them at a disadvantage when they looked for that new job.

I'd go so far as to say that I'd rather have been Latham'd than pushed out of Davis Polk.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:Would rather be part of a massive layoff than be stealthed for "performance reasons." In the former situation I get severance and I don't have as much of a black mark when looking for a new job. In the latter situation, some firms used the situation to provide no severance, whereas other firms didn't even provide as much severance as Latham, and on top of that stealthed associates looked like they were fired because they were incompetent, which put them at a disadvantage when they looked for that new job.

I'd go so far as to say that I'd rather have been Latham'd than pushed out of Davis Polk.


You would've been much, much more likely to have been Latham-ed as a first year than pushed out from Davis Polk as a first year.

Look at the attorney counts at three firms over the last few years:
http://www.law.com/jsp/tal/PubArticleTA ... 2430111960 (2008)
http://www.law.com/jsp/tal/PubArticleTA ... 2489360193 (2010)

Davis Polk grew by 14%, Sullivan grew by 13%, while Latham contracted by 8%.

Look at these #'s: http://xoxohth.com/thread.php?thread_id ... forum_id=2

Latham cut 34% of the associates in NY and DC, disproportionately in the junior ranks.

Latham cut 99 associates in NY from an office of ~300, versus (according to ATL's estimates), DPW cutting 20-30 associates in NY from an office of ~600, and Sullivan cutting 15-20 associates in NY from an office of ~600. Plus, Latham did additional stealth layoffs after the real layoffs: http://lawshucks.com/2009/11/nlj-number ... h-layoffs/

Yeah, I'm fucking sure you would've rather been at Latham.

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Re: What's the Real Deal with Latham

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Yeah, I'm fucking sure you would've rather been at Latham.


He/she didn't say that he/she would rather be at Latham. He/she simply said that he/she would have rather been "Latham'd" at Latham than "pushed out of" DP. I think that most attorneys, on assessing the situation, would agree.




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