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Client Pitches Cost Up to $70K at Latham & Watkins

Jan. 9, 2017, 10:22 PM

Ever wonder how much a client presentation costs at a big law firm?

At Latham & Watkins, it can go anywhere between $30,000 and $70,000, according to a report in The New York Times.

That’s if you reached the bottom of the Times’ report on the state of the legal industry going into 2017 , released Monday. It depicts the tumultuous state of affairs in Big Law, where even elite firms are losing and poaching partners for market share.

For legal business junkies like us, much of the article is familiar territory, recapping the highlights in 2016: 1) Cravath raised first-year associate salaries to $180,000, 2) firm mergers are expected to continue, 3) merit-based pay systems are putting pressure on lockstep.

But then we reach this juicy paragraph toward the end of the article:

[Latham & Watkins, according to managing partner William H. Voge] routinely competes for big-ticket legal work, with partners often flying from different parts of the world to showcase Latham’s skills against those of five or six competing firms. The cost is not cheap; the firm pays $30,000 to $70,000 per presentation.

And it works, he said, because most of the firm’s existing clients last year each paid over $1 million in legal fees. Over all, the firm had profit of $1.6 billion in 2016, Mr. Voge noted.

We’ve heard the trend toward law firms hiring more marketing, data analysts and support staff to help partners prepare client pitches, but here is a concrete data point that gives us an idea of how much work goes into a pitch.

The price raises questions, though, including what makes up the cost and how frequently are these presentations drawn up? It also begged the question of how much of the cost can be chalked up to a couple partners each flying first class from Brussels, London or Hong Kong to wherever the client pitch happens to be?

We reached out to a Latham spokeswoman with follow up questions, seeking details, and we’ll update if we hear back.

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