Building Relationships and Creating Future Leader

At the international law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, diversity is a fundamental tenet of the firm’s culture. This year it launched the Diversity Leadership Academy, a professional development program for law students and firm associates.

As Global Chair of the Diversity Leadership Committee and San Diego partner, Nadia Sager describes it this way: “This Academy is one of the ways Latham says to law students and associates, ‘We are invested in you. We are here to support you. We celebrate the rich experiences and perspectives you bring to the firm and to our clients, and we are dedicated to helping you succeed.’”

Inspiring the Next Generation

The inaugural Academy was a resounding success, with nearly 200 attendees, including Latham & Watkins lawyers from around the world and law students from across the United States. For two days, attendees participated in training sessions and social events geared toward inspiring the next generation of leaders, providing advanced skills training, and creating new relationships with senior attorney mentors and role models.

The Academy is unique, given its focus on both the practicing attorney and law student populations. With its numerous pipeline, retention, and advancement benefits, the Academy is a particularly innovative diversity initiative with broad reach.

Training sessions for law students included tips for transitioning from law student to summer associate, resume writing, and interviewing. Latham attorneys attended interactive seminars on leadership, personal branding, communication, and other strategies for advancement and long-term success.

In formal evaluations, nearly 100 percent of Latham associates rated the Academy as having “exceeded” or “far exceeded” expectations.

Commitment to Diversity in the Legal Sector

“The Academy demonstrated the firm’s sincere commitment to diversity, made senior lawyers more approachable and relatable, and helped me see the many different ways in which I can be successful at the firm. It was one of the most important professional experiences I’ve ever had,” said Aaron Chiu, a third-year associate with the firm’s San Francisco office.

The feedback from law students was equally strong, with many commenting that the Academy not only reinforced their commitment to their chosen career path, but also reinvigorated their passion for joining the firm. “We wanted attendees to leave the Academy feeling empowered and inspired. We also wanted them to leave completely convinced that no matter what you look like, where you grew up, or what your background might be, you can succeed at a global law firm and be a leader in our industry,” said BJ Trach, a Latham litigation partner in Boston who served as Academy faculty.

Upcoming 2016 Leadership Conference

The firm’s upcoming leadership conference will take place in April 2016 in San Francisco. The training and development retreat will provide first-year law students with the information and skills needed to successfully navigate the law firm interview and hiring process, and transition from law student to practicing attorney. Participation is firm sponsored and includes, hotel, meals and travel

With 31 offices in 14 countries employing more than 4,500 people. The firm considers and supports D&I in every facet of its operations. It continues to embark upon various diversity and inclusion programs exemplifying its commitment to strengthen and promote the firm as a workplace where the best and brightest attorneys from all groups find opportunity and support to fulfill their potential to become industry leaders.

“As a firm, we have embarked upon a strategic initiative focused on becoming the industry leader in talent diversity,” Sager said. Back in 2013, the firm launched its successful global Women’s Leadership Academy providing women and professional training in leadership, self-promotion, communication and business development. The Global Diversity Leadership Academy has a similar focus for diverse associates.

Through the Diversity Leadership Academy, Latham & Watkins is making significant investments in the success of our next generation of diverse lawyers and leaders.