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Press Release | July 8, 2021

Biden Hires Top Officials From Big Tech-Aligned Law Firm, New Report Finds

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Biden Hires Top Officials From Big Tech-Aligned Law Firm, New Report Finds

Andrea Beaty, beaty@therevolvingdoorproject.org
Molly Coleman, molly@peoplesparity.org

Today, the Revolving Door Project (RDP) and People’s Parity Project (PPP) released the fourth report in their BigLaw Revolving Door series, examining Latham & Watkins’ corporate and right-wing connections. The BigLaw Revolving Door series investigates the outsized influence of corporate law firms and their clients on the executive branch and regulatory law spaces. 

In the fourth installment in the series, author Vishal Shankar examines Latham’s corporate clients, the firm’s extensive work shepherding mergers through regulatory approval for monopolistic clients, and its former partners who have joined the Biden Administration. In particular, the Revolving Door Project is concerned about Latham’s close ties to embattled social media giant Facebook, a tech monopoly that President Biden has correctly labeled “a tool of misinformation that corrodes our democracy.” Over the course of its decade-long partnership with Facebook, Latham has fought consumer data breach litigation, quashed federal investigations into corrupt practices by Facebook contractors, and advised on mergers and acquisitions that have cemented Facebook’s tech monopoly status (including its highly-controversial 2014 purchase of WhatsApp, a merger that is currently being challenged by the FTC). 

In addition to Facebook, Latham’s other high profile clients include other tech monopolists (Apple, Microsoft), major pharmaceutical corporations (Amneal, Allergan), telecommunications giants (Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications), fossil fuel firms (Chevron, Energy Capital Partners), and some of the most reviled companies in entertainment and media (Electronic Arts and Viacom). The firm has even boasted of its continued work for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia despite its murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi and ongoing invasion of Yemen, aiding state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco in its 2019 IPO and providing legal services to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s controversial NEOM project.

As the report explores, Latham’s ties to both the Republican and Democratic parties are deep. The firm boasts an array of ex-regulators and executive branch political appointees hailing from every presidential administration since Ronald Reagan’s. Among its most prominent Republican revolvers are former Solicitor General Gergory Garre, former DOJ Criminal Division head Alice Fisher, and former FTC Director of Competition Ian Conner. Latham has also quickly cultivated a reputation as a feeder firm for the Biden Administration, as several of its top partners have landed powerful jobs across the executive branch after representing truly odious clients at the firm. These revolvers include Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau (whose clients included several large oil companies and two Saudi government projects) and Deputy White House Counsel Jonathan Su (who represented Trump aide George Nader against federal sex-trafficking charges and Republican Senator Richard Burr in an FBI investigation over alleged insider trading). The firm is also home to high-ranking alumni of the Obama administration, like former DOJ Criminal Division head Leslie Caldwell, who have leveraged their insider knowledge to help corporate lawbreakers evade accountability and have quietly lobbied for positions in the Biden administration. 

“For decades, corporate attorneys’ work to entrench the power of the powerful has been treated as an asset by both Democratic and Republican administrations,” said People’s Parity Project Executive Director Molly Coleman. “But as this report shows, high-level attorneys at Latham have actively worked against the public interest at every turn. This type of experience should be anathema to the Biden administration, and to all future administrations that claim to stand on the side of progress.” 

“Latham’s work spearheading mega-mergers and defending corporate monopolies across major sectors of the economy — from technology to healthcare to energy — benefits a privileged corporate elite at the expense of the public good. From Pharma and Tech giants to the Saudi government to corrupt politicians and celebrities, Latham’s clients are among the worst of the worst. Firm partners like Alice Fisher and Leslie Caldwell boast appalling records, having been involved in the federal government’s expansion of cruel torture and cyber-enforcement powers and presiding over record declines in white-collar criminal prosecutions. If Biden is serious about cracking down on corporate consolidation and corruption, he must shut Latham’s revolving door into his administration,” said Revolving Door Project researcher Vishal Shankar, who authored the report.

To read the BigLaw Revolving Door Report: Latham & Watkins, click here. To view the rest of the series, click here.  


PHOTO: “Latham & Watkins – iDJ Photography (4)” by Darren Johnson / iDJ Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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