Latham creates Boston bridgehead with eye on technology, private equity

Latham & Watkins has continued its recent ­expansionist strategy with the launch of an office in ­private equity-focused Boston.

News that the firm, which now has around 2,000 lawyers in 31 offices across the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, is to open in Boston comes shortly after it launched in Riyadh, Beijing and Houston.

The Boston base, situated in John Hancock Tower, will offer clients advice on M&A, capital markets and other financial transactions including leveraged recapitalisations, management buyouts and private equity investments.

Latham chairman and managing partner Robert Dell said the launch will allow the firm to tap into Boston’s private equity ­market, which he described as one of the most dynamic in the US, as well as the city’s strong technology ­sector.

The firm has added six partners and one counsel in Boston, including ­partners John Chory, Peter Handrinos, Susan Mazur and Phil Rossetti, who have all made the leap from WilmerHale.

Private equity partner Hans Brigham and counsel Julie Scallen have arrived from Bingham McCutchen’s Boston office, while private equity partner Alex Temel has joined the firm from Proskauer Rose.

A partner at a rival firm in Boston said Latham has been intent on gaining a foothold in the city for ­several years.

“They’ve been trying to figure out how to open an office in Boston for a long time,” he said. “It’s one of the top three or four legal ­markets in the US and has a higher profit per partner ratio for firms than in many other cities in the eastern states, so I think they really want to be there.”

He admitted that ­Latham’s move could prove a cause for concern among smaller Boston firms, but believes in the short term it will not ­rattle too many cages.

“I don’t think it will affect much in terms of lawyers based in Boston,” he added, “because at a law firm level there’s more national ­competition than local.

“The only thing this will affect in the short term is competition for venture engagement; but in the longer term they’ll be able to pick off lawyers from other major firms, and that may be a concern.”
Kent Zimmermann, a consultant at US-based Zeughauser Group, said the new opening was a shrewd move for Latham.

“The firm’s been extremely diligent,” said Zimmermann. “It spent years lining up the ­impressive laterals with which it’s opened its Boston office.

“This move was carefully planned, backed by a sizable investment and is an ­acquisition of a group of successful talent that already represents an impressive list of blue-chip clients.”

Latham’s move follows Boston office openings by DLA Piper and Jones Day, and Zimmermann expects other major firms to be tempted by the city’s ­technological boom, which is reminiscent of the Silicon Valley phenomenon of the 1990s.

Tony Williams, principal at Jomati Consultants, also believes the new office makes sense for Latham.

“Boston’s an important centre for private equity,” said Williams, “so given Latham’s national practice it’s not really a surprise.

“Latham’s a good and ­successful firm with a strong international footprint, and they’re clearly going to be one of the global contenders going forward.”