January 29, 2014
Latham & Watkins has a presence in dozens of cities across the globe, and the firm prides itself on being an active professional and volunteer participant in those communities. “We are a member of these communities and supported by their infrastructures, and I think we owe something back to them,” explains Ann Claassen, counsel in the Washington, D.C. office and one of the coordinators of the Latham team in the annual AIDS Walk Washington.
In keeping with this commitment to giving back, each year local teams of Latham lawyers and staff and their families and friends hit the streets of New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. to participate in their cities’ annual AIDS Walks. AIDS Walk fundraisers are held across in the United States to raise funds to combat HIV/AIDS and to provide services to those affected by the disease.
In 2013 the combined efforts of the Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles office teams raised more than US$60,000 for AIDS research and services for those with HIV/AIDS.
Fun and Fundraising in Los Angeles
“We had a team of 13,” said Michael Lundberg, a Los Angeles-based associate who coordinated the Latham team for AIDS Walk Los Angeles. “There was a mix of attorneys, local support staff and global services staff. People brought their kids, their relatives, and their friends. It was a really fun environment.”
“Participating in the walk makes a strong showing in the community and demonstrates that we are part of a larger whole,” said Lundberg. “You have everyone from 90 year olds down to 9 month olds taking part. It's an amazing show of community spirit.”
Los Angeles-based partner Wayne Flick, a board member of AIDS Project Los Angeles, the organization that produces the Los Angeles Walk, raised more than US$36,000, making him the third highest fundraiser for the city’s entire walk.
An Important Cause: Whitman-Walker Health
The Washington, D.C. walk is produced by Whitman-Walker Health, a longtime pro bono client of the firm and a local healthcare provider for HIV/AIDS care and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community health care.
“I’m very proud of our firm for taking this cause seriously,” said associate Patrick English, who led the D.C. team along with Claassen. “This is an issue that touches some of our own lives. When I reach out to thank people for donations, often they will say, ‘It’s not just the fact that it is Latham, I actually have a friend who died of AIDS,’ so this is very important cause to them.”
Community Building Inside and Outside of the Firm in NYC
In the New York office the Multicultural Promotion and Attainment Coalition (MPAC) has taken charge of putting together a team for AIDS Walk New York for the last three years, supporting GMHC, the walk’s New York organizer, as well as sourcing the team’s t-shirts from Night Sweats & T-Cells, an Ohio-based company that employs and benefits people with HIV/AIDS.
Virginia Tent, counsel in the firm’s New York office and one of MPAC‘s founders, said that in addition being an opportunity to give back to the greater New York community, the walk has also served as a chance to build better relationships within the Latham community. “Since the New York walk is usually just a week or so before our summer associates start work, we ask the recruiting department to invite the summers to join the team of lawyers and staff and get to know people early on, which is a great jump-start for the summer,” said Tent.
“This event is a great way to bring people across the firm closer together,” added Sean Weisberg a New York-based associate who participated in the walk. “I enjoyed spending a morning with colleagues in support of a great cause.”