Latham requires vaccinations following FDA approval

Signage is seen on the exterior of the building where law firm Latham & Watkins LLP are located in Manhattan, New York City
Latham & Watkins offices in New York. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

(Reuters) - Latham & Watkins, one of the highest-grossing and largest law firms in the U.S., will require all of its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-October.

Latham may be the first major U.S. law firm to implement a vaccination mandate following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's full approval of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine last month.

About half of the 200 highest-grossing U.S. law firms are now requiring vaccinations, and in many firms, the percentage of employees who are vaccinated is between 90% to 95%, according to Zeughauser Group consultant Kent Zimmermann.

The first law firm to announce a vaccination mandate was Davis Wright Tremaine in January. Since then many more firms have issued mandates, particularly as U.S. coronavirus cases began spiking again due to the highly contagious Delta variant.

Other law firms, including Baker McKenzie, Dechert, Dentons and Morrison & Foerster announced their vaccination mandates last week. But representatives at those firms confirmed those mandates were announced internally prior to the FDA approval.

Latham's executive committee, in a memo sent to all U.S. employees on Wednesday, said more than 95% of its U.S. personnel and "virtually 100%" of its U.S. partners have been vaccinated. The memo was first published on the legal blog Above The Law on Friday; a representative for Latham confirmed the memo's authenticity and declined to comment further.

The memo specifically cites FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine as one of the reasons why the firm is mandating vaccinations. Industry consultants said they expect the FDA approval will push more law firms and companies into adopting vaccination mandates.

FDA approval gives law firms more legal coverage to mandate vaccinations, said Marcie Borgal Shunk, president of law firm consultancy The Tilt Institute. She said some people questioned whether a COVID-19 vaccine could be mandated when the FDA hasn't given full approval.

"With this step, law firms will gain confidence in their legal footing," Borgal Shunk added.

Employers in many other industries are requiring their workforce to be vaccinated as well. One national survey of nearly 1,000 employers said more than half of U.S. companies are planning to impose COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the workplace by year end, with almost a quarter considering vaccination as a condition for employment.

Google's parent Alphabet Inc, Walmart Inc, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc are among the growing list of employers requiring some or all staff to get the vaccine.

Read More:

Majority of U.S. companies may mandate COVID-19 vaccine in coming months - survey

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine gains full U.S. regulatory approval

Mandates bring new role for law firms: playing vaccine cop

White-shoe law firms get cold feet on office re-openings

Big Law's next pandemic quandary: Require vaccines or rely on persuasion

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.