I recently did a piece on succession planning with legal consultant, Patrick McKenna, for my Forbes column, “Legal Darwinism.” In it, we mentioned a survey McKenna conducted in 2007 where he asked an extensive list of managing partners which of their peers they most admired for their leadership competence. The winner, by far, was Latham & Watkins’ Robert M. Dell. At the time, after 32 years at the helm, Dell and his firm’s succession committee were in the process of finding his successor.
Resolute in protecting the sanctity of the firm’s succession process, Dell was hesitant to talk to the media, leaving us wondering just who might fill his very large shoes. Today we have our answer:
“Bill Voge has been elected Global Chair and Managing Partner, effective January 1, 2015. Voge will succeed Robert M. Dell, Latham & Watkins’ long-time leader, who is retiring after 32 years with the firm, the last two decades as Global Chair and Managing Partner,” said Latham & Watkins’ Public Relations Senior Manager, Frank Pizzurro, in a press release earlier today.
The release went on to say, “Voge has an impressive track record in a variety of leadership positions spanning 20-plus years, including eight years on the Executive Committee from 1998-2002 and 2008-2012. He has also served as Global Chair of the Finance Department from 2007-2008 and Global Co-Chair of the Project Finance Practice from 2004-2007 as well as leading a number of firm initiatives focused on global strategy and practice integration for markets outside the United States.”
Vogue comes from an extensive background of project development and project financings, and is widely considered one of the most recognizable project finance lawyers at the global level. Resident in Latham’s London office, he will be steering the ship from across the pond, and leveraging his extensive relationships throughout the firm’s various offices to ensure its continued success.
The succession process unfolded via a 15 person succession committee composed of partners from outside the firm’s current executive committee, and reflected a cross-section of the partnership, representing a variety of practice areas, geographies, and seniority, with a heavy weighting of younger partners.
Miles Ruthberg, chair of the succession committee, said, “The eight-month long, rigorous succession process reaffirmed our shared values: strong collegial culture; inclusive and transparent approach to management; and team approach. I am especially proud of the candidates’ professionalism and mutual respect throughout the process. The diversity of highly qualified candidates is a testament to the enormous depth of talent and leadership experience in the firm.”
Are Voge’s feet big enough to fill Dell’s shoes? Only time will tell. That being said, Latham’s succession process is widely admired throughout the BigLaw leadership/management community. And, no doubt, Bill is a thoroughly vetted and highly qualified candidate. Congratulations to Bill Voge on his appointment, and to Latham & Watkins on the next step in their evolution.