Bill Voge, the managing partner and chair of Latham & Watkins, has stepped down and resigned from the firm after admitting to inappropriate personal conduct of a “sexual nature,” the firm announced on Tuesday.
Voge “tendered his resignation after making a series of voluntary disclosures to the Firm’s Executive Committee relating to his personal conduct,” the firm said.
That conduct “involved the exchange of communications of a sexual nature with a woman whom he has never met in person and who had no connection to the Firm.”
The firm said that Voge engaged in “subsequent conduct relating to this matter that, while not unlawful, the Executive Committee concluded was not befitting the leader of the Firm.”
The executive committee accepted Voge’s resignation, the firm said, “determining that these lapses in personal judgment made continued service as Chair untenable.”
The firm’s vice co-chairs, Ora Fisher and Richard Trobman, have assumed responsibility as interim co-chairs of the firm, Latham said.
Voge did not respond to a request for comment, but issued a personal statement through a spokesman.
“It is with great sorrow that I step down as Chair and Managing Partner of Latham & Watkins,” he said. “I made a personal mistake for which I bear considerable fault and humiliation. I deeply regret my lapse of judgment and I am sorry for the distress and embarrassment I have caused my family, friends, and colleagues. My conduct falls well below the personal and professional standards I have tried to uphold throughout my entire career. My disappointment in myself is all the more acute because this lapse does not represent who I am and what I believe, and because I have let down our firm and its people, all of whom I so deeply cherish and respect.”
The firm said that it did not intend to provide further comment, in light of the personal and privacy interests involved.
The departure comes in the midst of numerous scandals involving powerful men who have been accused of sexual misconduct. Such cases have sparked a national dialogue about workplace issues under the banner of the #MeToo movement.
The legal profession has already absorbed its share of controversy including harassment allegations against former Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski that eventually led to his retirement from the bench. Earlier this month, it was reported that a law partner recently hired by Mayer Brown resigned after reports surfaced of sexual harassment allegations against him.
Voge, based in London, was elected as global chairman and managing partner of Latham in July 2014. He had headed the firm’s finance practice and was known for his work on oil and gas projects. He received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 1983 and an M.B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Latham was ranked as the top grossing law firm in the world in 2017, with $2.8 billion in revenue, more than 2,200 lawyers and offices flung all over the world.
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