Bill Voge Bill Voge

Latham & Watkins chairman William Voge abruptly stepped down Tuesday over what the firm said was inappropriate “communication of a sexual nature” with a woman who had no connection to the firm or any client. Voge is retiring from the firm, it said in a statement.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the firm said current vice-chairs Ora Fisher and Richard Trobman have assumed responsibility as interim co-chairs of the firm.

“Mr. Voge tendered his resignation after making a series of voluntary disclosures to the firm’s executive committee relating to his personal conduct,” the executive committee said in a statement. “Mr. Voge’s conduct involved the exchange of communications of a sexual nature with a woman whom he has never met in person and who had no connection to the firm.

“Mr. Voge’s conduct did not involve the firm, any of its clients, or its personnel. Mr. Voge engaged in subsequent conduct relating to this matter that, while not unlawful, the executive committee concluded was not befitting the leader of the firm. Accordingly, the firm’s executive committee accepted Mr. Voge’s resignation, determining that these lapses in personal judgment made continued service as chair untenable. In light of the personal and privacy interests involved, the firm does not intend to provide further comment on this matter.”

London-based Voge also issued a statement as part of the same announcement from Latham & Watkins.

“It is with great sorrow that I step down as chair and managing partner of Latham & Watkins. I made a personal mistake for which I bear considerable fault and humiliation. I deeply regret my lapse of judgment and I am sorry for the distress and embarrassment I have caused my family, friends, and colleagues,” Voge said in the statement. “My conduct falls well below the personal and professional standards I have tried to uphold throughout my entire career. My disappointment in myself is all the more acute because this lapse does not represent who I am and what I believe, and because I have let down our firm and its people, all of whom I so deeply cherish and respect.”

Voge was elected chair of Latham & Watkins in July 2014, taking over from longtime leader Robert Dell. Voge, a project finance lawyer, assumed the leadership role in January 2015.  Voge won the chairman position in a runoff election against another finance partner. The firm was already on a growth tear under Dell’s watch, but just weeks ago, it broke another barrier under Voge’s leadership when it became the first firm to ever announce more than $3 billion in annual revenues.