Associate Participation in Management
Before joining the firm, I heard that associates at Latham & Watkins were involved in management. What I didn't understand, however, was just how much of a role associates play in many of the most important decisions. Once I was actually part of it, it was amazing to see how much trust is placed in associates' judgment.
My first experience with "consensus management" was my service on the Washington, D.C. office's Charitable Contributions Committee. Through this committee, I worked with other associates and partners to decide where to allocate our charitable resources and how to respond to the many requests that streamed in for support and donations. I always assumed that the Office Managing Partner made all these decisions, so it was really nice to feel like I was helping to decide things that not only made a difference to the office, but to the community as well.
When I was a fourth year associate, I was asked to join the firm's global Associates Committee as a representative from the D.C. office. Participating on the Associates Committee has been such a fascinating and humbling experience for me. The Committee handles everything from associate reviews and compensation decisions to policies, bonuses and progression to partnership. The responsibilities were a little daunting at first, but it's really inspiring to see how much effort everyone puts into making the right decisions.
Participating in the administrative aspects of the firm has been a tremendous learning experience, showing me what it takes to effectively run such a large firm. I used to be in awe of how many lawyers work at the firm. Now, as a member of the Associates Committee, I've seen how much interplay there is among the offices and how closely our attorneys work together not just on client matters, but on management decisions. I finally understand what the "one-firm" firm ideal is all about, and the firm feels so much smaller to me now. I've never felt out of place as an associate on any committee, and I think associate participation in management works so well here because attorneys at all levels are truly dedicated to maintaining this important aspect of Latham's culture.