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Lawyers at Latham & Watkins’ London office have found a way to combine their passion for theatre with their legal expertise, after forging a pro bono relationship with Camden’s iconic theatre building the Roundhouse.
The famous venue, which has played host to stars including Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, fell into disrepair after its 1970s heyday. When London lawyer Philip Watkins learned that the Roundhouse was embarking on a major fundraising exercise for its redevelopment, he saw an opportunity to participate in pro bono work on behalf of the theatre.
Watkins waded in for the venue, advising on the £28m fundraising programme as well as on tax and property issues.
Among the donators to the redevelopment are the Norman Trust, Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wellcome Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and English Heritage.
Although the Roundhouse is not due to reopen until the autumn, an outreach creative education programme aimed at young people continues to operate. More than 6,500 young people have already taken part in creative projects.
Marcus Davey, chief executive of the Roundhouse, said: “Without Latham & Watkins’ help, and particularly the support of Philip Watkins, the Roundhouse would not be in the strong position it is in today. We’re carrying out a £28m redevelopment of this wonderful, legendary building. Latham & Watkins’ commitment to supporting charities has meant that we’ve had the best legal advice available to us at no cost.”
The pro bono commitment in Latham’s London office has grown exponentially over the past four years, from 488 hours in 2001 to 2,172 hours in 2003.
The growth in the pro bono offering has resulted in an associate, Ben Davies, taking charge of the pro bono programme at the firm.
At the same time, the firm’s global commitment has also grown, from 91,299 hours in 2001 to 126,105 hours in 2003.
Continuing the creative arts theme, the London office is also advising the Stellar Network, a not-for-profit, membership-based creative film community that offers the film industry the opportunity to come together and meet at monthly events. Latham lawyers are assisting the Stellar Network with general corporate, commercial and employment advice.
London lawyers are also advising John Grooms, a charity for the disabled, on increasing the funds available to it to acquire homes. Latham is also helping with its contracts with local authorities and issues relating to the establishment of a pan-London standard agreement concerned with the care of disabled people.