Latham & Watkins is about to join the likes of Ballard Spahr and Cox Smith in requiring their associates to pose for mandatory body shots for the firm’s new website.

According to an email sent out to all Latham attorneys yesterday, the new photos are part of an ambitious project to redesign the firm’s website and advertising materials to make them “world class.” Or, as one tipster put it: “Latham wants to look as prestigious as DLA Piper by forcing associates to submit to ridiculous photo shoots.”

Indeed, Latham has hired Gittings Photography, a studio specializing in, among other things, law firm photography. According to the Gittings website, they have been hired by firms such as Baker & McKenzie, DLA Piper and Jones Day, and they are already touting Latham as a client.

It seems, however, that Latham has grand plans to go beyond the traditional attorney portraits that appear on these other firms’ sites. Find out just what Latham management has in mind, and what Latham associates should be prepared for, after the jump.

The full text of the Latham email vaguely explains the nature of the candid shots the firm is seeking:

As you may recall, last December, the firm launched a project to redesign the external website and pitch materials, with the goal of making them world-class. As part of this project, we will be taking new color photographs of all lawyers worldwide.

The photographs, which will be deployed once the new pitch materials and website are launched, will be taken in a new style known as a “moment in time” by Gittings Photography. This new photographic style is sophisticated, modern, vibrant and approachable. It is essential that all lawyers have their photos retaken in this new format. We will also be taking traditional headshots of Partners only — to be used for press and media-related materials and other purposes. Please understand that details about suggested attire will be communicated once your appointment is confirmed.

“Moment in time” seems to just be a fancy way of saying candid. And I’m not sure that candid can really be considered a “new photographic style.” After perusing the various galleries on the Gittings site, my best guess is that Latham attorneys should be prepared for something along the lines of Gittings’ interactive business portraits or journalistic corporate portraits.

In other words, the photographers will be constructing pre-arranged scenarios that will be photographed and passed off as exclusive glimpses into “moments at time” at a law firm. I guarantee that Gittings will not be capturing many of the true “moments in time” that are a part of associate life, such as 2 a.m. document review or ordering from SeamlessWeb for the fifth time this week. Because at such moments, of course, one would not have an “appointment” or be sure to be wearing “suggested attire.”

Interestingly, while both partners and associates will be subjected to these body shots, only partners will also be taking “traditional headshots” for use in “press and media-related materials and other purposes.” This distinction should send a clear message to associates: don’t ever expect to see your face in any press releases or anything publicly issued by the firm. Also, the firm would never dream of using the ridiculous photos that will be taken of you for any serious publicity purposes.

The Latham attorneys we’ve heard from are not pleased with the announcement:

It is also troubling that attorneys cannot opt out. A compulsory headshot would be one thing, but this? Highly TTT.

The one thing that Latham attorneys can look forward to in their new photos is cranial equality –- one of Gittings’ “specific photo guidelines” (listed only on their law firm page) is creating uniformity in head size. So, those with giant noggins or tiny pea heads need not fear looking freakish.

The email gives no indication of when the new website might be launched, but we’ll be sure to keep our eyes peeled.

Latham associates, how do you feel about your upcoming “moments in time”? Share your reactions to your impending photo shoots, in the comments.


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