Startup Firm/Emerging Company Law Firm of the Year: Latham & Watkins

The 2022 Legalweek Leaders in Tech Law Awards looks to honor innovation occurring in legal departments and law firms across the country. The group of honorees this year for the Legalweek Leaders in Tech Law Awards have demonstrated knowledge, skill and compassion, recognized by the peers and clients who nominated them. From innovation in litigation to exploring new research opportunities to transforming the way access to justice is handled, the contenders for these awards have shown that true change is not only coming to the legal industry, it’s already here.

Alongside their entries, we asked the winners of these awards a few questions about their work over the past year, their penchant for innovation, and more. Here’s what Latham & Watkins’ John Chory, global chair of the Emerging Companies practice, and Ben Potter, global vice chair and chair of the Emerging Companies practice and Technology Practice industry group, had to say.

Winner: Latham & Watkins for Startup Firm/Emerging Company Law Firm of the Year

Reason for Win: Spurred on by the pandemic, Latham & Watkins used its lawyers’ knowledge to develop a tool that quickly and accurately answers investment questions while holistically looking at private market portfolios. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in encouraging innovation in your firm, and how did you overcome them?

John Chory and Ben Potter: One of the fantastic things about working at a firm like Latham is that the firm’s leadership, and culture more broadly, encourage a culture of innovation. Throughout the firm’s nearly eight decades, innovation has remained a constant. It is considered necessary to stay on the cutting-edge and provide market-leading client service. Latham also encourages innovation through mentorship. Latham’s robust system of formal and informal mentoring encourages young lawyers to find opportunities to innovate throughout the firm.

There are always up and downs when working to trail blaze new paths and Latham’s collegial and team-based culture that leads to collaborative problem solving. We have found that the most effective way of encouraging innovation is displaying the long term business and personnel benefits to change. It seems sometimes that it is human nature to be hesitant to change, especially at a large scale, so providing examples of how innovation can make our lives easier, or solve specific problems, goes a long way to continuing a spirit of innovation at Latham.

The tech industry is only growing in scale and importance. What is it about working in the tech world that you enjoy?

The lawyers in our Emerging Companies practice love the variety of clients with whom we get to work. Whether it is a growing company in a later round of investment, or a true nascent start up, based out a garage, it is thrilling to work with these companies as they grow. Especially for these new companies, we know that starting a company is a very challenging endeavor and we often hear from clients that the sheer volume of decision-making that falls on the shoulders of a founder can be overwhelming.

Having a trusted legal advisor to provide support from the earliest stages can go a long way in easing that burden and helping to break problems down into more manageable pieces. One of the most rewarding parts of the job is seeing those companies grow and mature over the years and knowing that you played a role in helping them achieve their goals.

What does being an “innovative firm” mean to you?

Innovation is rarely, if ever, about single changes or a certain period of time where adopting new ideas is in vogue. To Latham, innovation is a constant, iterative process of adapting, improving, and trying new things. It is also about being willing to take chances on technologies and new ideas that are not necessarily perfect fits from the beginning.

With Aumni, we identified a software that worked really well for venture capital firms, but wasn’t exactly the right fit for a law firm. By collaborating with Aumni, we were able to simultaneously test the venture capital-focused version of their software, and help to develop a law firm-focused version. It is this collaborative process, embracing a new technology, but doing it tactically and with an eye focused on always improving our people and business, that embodies Latham’s philosophy as an innovative firm.

Zubair Q Britania

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