In this conversation, Latham & Watkins’ summer associates and leaders talk about diversity, recruiting, and the importance of building a culture of inclusion.
Lucas Novaes, 2017 Latham 2L Diversity Scholar and summer associate: While I was a student at American University Washington College of Law, I had the opportunity to attend Latham’s Diversity Leadership Academy and Summer Academy, where I got to see the firm’s emphasis on training and development firsthand. Belinda, as the chair of Latham’s Training and Career Enhancement Committee, can you speak about that focus?
Belinda Lee, San Francisco partner, chair of Latham’s Training and Career Enhancement Committee: We believe that there is always room to grown and learn more as a lawyer—whether you have just joined us straight out of law school, or you are one of our most senior partners. That is why we hold academies at key points in the careers of our lawyers, and each academy is specially tailored to address the different toolbox of skills that you need at that particular point in your career. But, beyond that, our academies are about our firm culture, too. Our academies bring together all of our lawyers from around the world and are a great reminder of how we are all in this together.
Kiara Vaughn, 2017 Latham 2L Diversity Scholar and summer associate: I really loved Latham’s Diversity Leadership Academy. In fact, my experience was one of the main reasons I chose to join Latham as a summer associate. BJ, what does the Diversity Leadership Academy mean to you?
BJ Trach, Boston partner, Chair of the Diversity Leadership Committee: It means the world to me that each year we’re able to bring together such a broad spectrum of people—firm leaders, partners, associates, incoming summer associates, and first-year law students—over a series of days to engage in meaningful discussions about diversity and inclusion. At the Diversity Leadership Academy we hear insights from external speakers, such as the incomparable Bryan Stevenson, and talk candidly about our experiences.
Kiara Vaughn: I attended the academy when I was a 1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.It’s hard to describe the feeling I had seeing a firm that is so determined to increasing diversity in the legal field that it was willing to invest in the careers of first-year law students who may not end up even joining the firm. And that commitment didn’t end when I left the academy. I still keep in touch with the mentor I was paired with, and regularly connect with other Latham associates and partners—many of whom I met again at Summer Academy. Larry, can you tell us more about Summer Academy?
Larry Seymour, Los Angeles partner, Chair of the Recruiting Committee: Sure. Summer Academy is one of many interoffice training programs you’ll experience at Latham. Our academies all provide comprehensive, level-specific training, as well as fantastic opportunities to meet and socialize with peers in your class from offices across the U.S. and around the world. At Summer Academy (in Scottsdale, AZ this summer), we fly in firm management from an array of offices to provide our summer associates with an overview of the numerous opportunities at the firm, ranging from practice group presentations to technology resources to committees, affinity groups and more. We invest substantially in our academies to ensure that our lawyers meet and know each other personally, which creates a more enjoyable workplace and helps maintain our prized culture consistently across the firm.
Lucas Novaes: My favorite part of Summer Academy was getting to know Latham partners and Executive Committee members. We had unparalleled access to these leaders, who evinced a genuine desire to connect with junior associates and answer all of our questions.
Larry Seymour: We want our summer associates to do interesting work and learn as much as possible about the practice of law. We also want them to get to know Latham, which means getting to know our lawyers and our “one-firm firm” ethos.
Kiara Vaughn: BJ, you’ve attended both the Diversity Leadership Academy and Summer Academy for several years as a faculty member. Why do you continue to make time to participate?
BJ Trach: Every time I have the opportunity to attend an academy, I jump on it. And I know many of my Latham partners feel the same way. These academies are so important to our lawyers, and have become signature events that contribute to our culture of collaboration, transparency, and teamwork.
Belinda Lee: So many of our firm committees—including Training and Career Enhancement, Recruiting, and Diversity Leadership—work together to organize and run these events. We have partners, counsel, and associates from all over the firm who serve as faculty at our different academies, and all of us strive to make the academy experience as meaningful as possible.