- Firm’s chairman left abruptly over questionable contacts with a woman outside the firm
- Three new leaders all selected from within
Brad Kotler, a banking and finance partner, has been elected vice chair of Latham & Watkins, completing its leadership makeover following the abrupt departure of chairman William Voge over questionable contacts with a woman outside the firm.
Kotler’s selection comes about a month after the firm chose Richard Trobman, another firm veteran, to replace Voge, who resigned earlier this year. Kotler will serve as vice chair along with Ora Fisher, a partner in Silicon Valley.
All three lawyers are long-time firm partners, who have experience in its leadership ranks.
“We have all been on the executive committee together and have seen Latham grow into what it is today,” said Kotler, in a phone interview from his Chicago office. “We all have a balanced view of where we are and where we are headed.
“We have all spent a long time setting up the firm’s platform, and we are still plugging in talent, but we have barely scratched the surface,” said Kotler, of 2,300-lawyer firm.
He said Latham had been actively hiring lateral partners who were market leaders in their areas, but said the firm’s goal of offering an array of services to its clients had not changed.
“We are each from different practice groups,” said Kotler of the leadership trio, “and we have worked hand in hand on some deals, but we are not going to shift our emphasis to them. We are still invested in litigation, white collar, intellectual property and bankruptcy as well as real estate and private equity – all the powerhouses of our firm.”
Kotler, who joined the firm in 1995, has experience in complex credit financings for acquisitions and working capital deals. He advises creditors, including major investment banks, and Fortune 500 borrowers on a range of credit facilities, merger finance, and large cap and middle market cash flow and asset-based loans.
He has served as managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office, vice chair of the firm’s global finance department, as a member the pro bono, recruiting, and women enriching business committees and serves on the executive committee.
He will serve the remaining 2 ½-year term as vice chair that Trobman, a London-based capital markets partner, vacated when he was elevated to chair and managing partner.
Trobman welcomed Kotler’s selection, noting in a statement that: “Since joining Latham out of law school, Brad has been a driving force who brings critical thinking, good judgment, and sharp intellect to every decision, every situation, every time.
“I’ve seen him bring the same passion, intensity, and dedication to his myriad leadership roles as he does to serving clients. I look forward to working closely with Brad alongside Ora — two partners whose breadth of experience and abiding commitment to our culture make them wonderful leaders of our firm.”
The leadership changes come as mega-firms like Latham are locked in increasingly vigorous competition with high-profile rivals like Kirkland & Ellis, Baker McKenzie and other preeminent firms to represent the complex, multi-faceted legal matters that major corporations generate as they operate increasingly across national borders.
For the future, Kotler said, in the interview, “We are anxious to unlock our platform. We have many strong practices, and we want to be the go-to firm for global transactions and cases – whether the client wants to do an acquisition in China or Hong Kong or have a high-yield bond offering in a global market.”
He noted that the “market for legal services is rapidly changing. We are always on the lookout for people in our mergers and acquisition practice as well as in bankruptcy and real estate.”
However, he noted, the firm places a premium on team players.
“We require lot of possible lateral hires to meet dozens and dozens of partners across and around a number of offices and partners. We do everything to make sure that if firm lawyers anywhere in the world need help, they receive it.”
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