Latham & Watkins made sure that video conferences and other remote technology helped their employees during the pandemic. They used the human touch as well
The pandemic taught the world that global business transcends face-to-face negotiations, but adjusting my leadership style to a digital-first world underscores the importance of personalized attention and reclaiming some of what we had relinquished in 2020’s darkest days.
Until March 2020, my leadership philosophy focused on building camaraderie and spending significant facetime with young lawyers to mentor them on the intangibles essential to forging client trust. The pandemic’s massive and near-instantaneous shift to work-at-home tested everything we thought we knew about our profession. Overnight, the firm successfully transitioned thousands of personnel globally to remote set-ups, and not only did we survive but we thrived. Video conference and other collaboration tools enabled me to lead teams and transactions with my time-tested approach, providing context to conversations with one-on-one mentorship.
As both a member of Latham & Watkins’ Executive Committee and a mother to two young children, I intimately understand the pandemic’s outsized impact on parents and others with caregiving responsibilities. I quickly recognized the importance of being gentle with people facing these challenges and worked hard to ensure that colleagues felt supported and were aware of firm resources, including flexible work schedules, accessible childcare options, and extensive well-being support. With a strong focus on making robust well-being resources available across the firm — including counseling and coaching, mindfulness support, on-demand programming, and mental health training — Latham has created a palpable culture of well-being that was integral to our successful return to work.
Unprecedented deal volume for the firm in 2021 and 2022 left little room for casual team-building exercises but opened the door for high-stakes, hands-on opportunities for my mentees. In this pivotal moment, on the cusp of normalcy, we are reclaiming what we had lost and I continue to integrate everything I have learned about leading under unanticipated circumstances. Now, I lead with a new appreciation for relationship-building, client travel, and the value of connecting face to face when possible. Even as we embrace options for remote work, my team and colleagues still crave the one-on-one mentorship and connection that such collaboration affords. Because of the pandemic, I am a more nimble leader and even more prepared to tackle whatever future challenges my clients may face.