Latham trials open-plan in London and New York

Latham & Watkins has been experimenting with open-plan working spaces in its London and New York offices.

The firm’s management team has been holding talks with fee-earners for the past year to establish new ways of working for partners and associates.

Latham’s most senior partners also took inspiration from CMS Cameron McKenna’s open-plan offices on Cannon Street when assessing their options ahead of the pilot.

The firm said one of its major challenges was unwillingness by some partners to change traditional methods of working.

As a result, Latham has chosen to trial a structure with a quasi open-plan layout on its 25th floor in London, while its sixth floor in New York has gone completely open-plan. Global managing partner Bill Voge sits on the sixth floor, as well as chief operating officer LeeAnn Black.

Voge said it was important to have senior members of the firm’s management team visibly adopting the firm’s open-plan layout in New York and London.

He added: “Increasingly we’re hearing that the younger lawyers don’t want all the privacy of a closed office.”

“They no longer want all that privacy and they want to be able to collaborate more.”

Latham is one of a number of US firms in London to bring in new ways of working, although they are far behind their UK counterparts – many of whom have operated open-plan spaces for several years.

In comparison, Reed Smith recently closed a consultation on agile working and work allocation, while Mayer Brown piloted agile working in its construction department last year.

Baker McKenzie also announced in 2016 it would be rolling out agile working policies across its network, with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton London partners telling partners to share offices for the first time ahead of its office move later this year.