GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Latham & Watkins

10 January 2017

The geographic distribution of Latham & Watkins’ global heads – the nine hours’ time difference between Sven Völcker in Brussels and Christopher S Yates in San Francisco, with Federal Trade Commission alumna Amanda Reeves between them in Washington, DC – shows the firm’s reach. While Latham lost partners Yi Chin Ho to Kirkland & Ellis and Omar Shah to Morgan Lewis & Bockius, it hired Michael Lacovara and Michael Esser from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Jonathan Parker from the UK Competition and Markets Authority.

Merger ranking 10 Litigation ranking 1 Cartel ranking 6
Global heads Amanda Reeves, Sven Völcker, Christopher S Yates
Number of jurisdictions with a competition team 6
Practice size 146
Partners 43
Counsel 5
Percentage of partners/counsel in Who's Who Legal 33
Associates 98
Lateral partner hires 3
Partner departures 2
Former enforcers 10

As one would expect from a firm ranked in the top 10 of the Global Elite for mergers, Latham worked on a couple hundred billion dollars’ worth of deals in the past year. These include Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of LinkedIn, for which potential big data issues have kicked off close scrutiny by the European Commission, and the merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, for which both the US Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission required remedies. Technology and telecommunications are a sweet spot for the firm, and not just because of its Californian roots. Lawrence Buterman joined the firm from the networks and technology enforcement section of the DOJ’s antitrust division, and Karen Silverman co-chairs the firm’s information technology industry group.

Lawyers’ resumes also come to bear on cartel work; partner Niall Lynch previously served as assistant chief of DOJ antitrust division’s San Francisco field office, a hub for pursuing collusion among Asian companies. While most of the firm’s cartel matters cannot be made public, the firm obtained full immunity for Exide Technologies in Belgium’s industrial batteries investigation. It also racked up several non-immunity declinations in the US DOJ’s capacitors, auto parts, resistors and precious metals investigations, and France’s probe of information technology services. Where it cannot stop an investigation early, Latham & Watkins fights competition authorities’ negative decision on appeal, as it currently is doing for a client in the electromedical devices sector before Italy’s Supreme Court and for Dascher and Vania in France. Latham acted for Singapore Airlines in helping to win a General Court annulment of DG Comp’s air cargo cartel decision.

In another chart-topping year for litigation, the firm represented scores of companies involved in active disputes – mainly in the US but also in France, Italy, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. It has a lead defence role in more than a dozen cases, such as lawsuits against the major players in the airline and power tool industries, Musical Instruments and Equipment, and Pre-Filled Propane Tank. In the past year, the firm’s lawyers won motions to dismiss, beat plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment and overturned trial decisions on appeal in these and other lawsuits. But Latham also will fight on the plaintiff’s side of business disputes, as it does for the Radio Music Licensing Committee in a relentless campaign to bring performing rights organisations under a consent decree to regulate the rates they charge.

While the Global Elite does not rank firms for non-cartel conduct work, Latham clearly would be a strong contender. It represents Facebook in the abuse of dominance investigation by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, which blends privacy and competition law, and several confidential clients under civil investigation by US federal or state enforcers. In a matter that does not fit easily into the Global Elite’s standard categories, the firm is helping American Airlines to challenge rival Delta – which obtained slots from the divestiture required in Europe for the US Airways/American tie-up – for allegedly failing to operate the daily service it had promised.

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