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California associates have voted, and they agree that Latham & Watkins is the most prestigious firm to work for in both Northern and Southern California, according to the newest Vault rankings. The annual survey by the career information company of more than 18,000 associates ranks the most prestigious firms in the country as well as in each region. The results are compiled in a law firm guide, complete with write-ups on each firm, and sold by Vault. Latham & Watkins associates weren’t surprised the firm got top billing in the Golden State. “Latham is a big name in California. I’m not sure that’s news,” said one California Latham & Watkins associate. What was a little surprising, according to the associate, was Vault’s all-around glowing review of being an associate at Latham & Watkins. “My reaction was: I want to work there,” the associate deadpanned. The biggest difference between reality and the report, which is ostensibly based on surveys of Latham & Watkins associates, is the quality of work, the associate said. “The thing about that that is kind of comical is that (after reading this) you’d think Latham is immune to the problems of all the other big firms,” the associate said. “But it’s the same here: There’s not enough high-quality work to keep them busy and happy.” Another Latham & Watkins associate wholeheartedly agreed with that assessment, but added that the report was right on one account: the caliber of people at the firm. “They’re good lawyers, good people, enjoyable to work with,” the associate said. Rounding out the top five in Northern California were Morrison & Foerster; Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom; Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe; and O’Melveny & Myers. In Southern California, Latham & Watkins was followed by Skadden Arps; O’Melveny & Myers; Munger Tolles & Olson; and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. (Latham & Watkins came in eighth on the nationwide list, where New York’s Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz led the pack.) Ora Fisher, Latham & Watkins’ Silicon Valley office managing partner, said she’s proud of the reputation the Los Angeles-origin firm has built in Northern California, particularly in Silicon Valley, where the office is just 10 years old. “We had a very tough road to hoe with clients and on law school campuses,” said Fisher. “Now, to be doing so well on the associate survey is just terrific.” Fisher chalked up the positive results from associates to several causes, including “the quality of work we get.” Well, whether you believe the managing partner or the associates about the quality of work at Latham & Watkins, one thing is for certain: There’s a lot of it, according to the survey. “I billed 2,400 hours as a first-year associate and expect to bill around 2,300 in my second year,” a Latham & Watkins attorney in Chicago told Vault. “Since I’m young and single, it’s quite easy to manage. I am not sure how attorneys who are parents manage such a workload, though.” This article originally appeared in The Recorder, a publication of ALM.

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