Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP - The Inside View

Weil's strong message on mentorship and associate development rings as true as its virtuoso bankruptcy and M&A practices.

“WE’VE had five consecutive years of steady and significant growth,” says Weil's managing partner Barry Wolf. Impressive. Good to know. Reassuring. But we have to admit, even we wouldn't recommend a firm on its financials alone. Lucky then, that Wolf has better news up his sleeve. “More importantly, our best assets are our associates and we're always looking to improve their experience. There are two significant changes this year we’re all very excited about.” The first is a formalized home-working policy (more on that later...) and the second is a new partnership track. “We’ve shortened our partner and counsel track from 9.5 to 7.5 years – we’re also going to talk to associates at the end of year five to give them transparency about their prospects. There are long-term benefits to these cultural changes – associates are our biggest asset, so to attract and retain them is important!”

Every Monday morning a total of 1,100 Weil lawyers around the world roll up their sleeves to maintain its reputation as a serious world-beater; more than 300 are devoted to private equity alone, the best of its global practices. In its New York office, 600-odd morning coffees power 600-odd legal minds to earn (among other plaudits) Chambers USA's recognition for being expert at M&A, and among the best of the best for bankruptcy & restructuring. This is a high-stakes law firm built out of Wall Street. And yet, mentoring, working from home and career development are high on its agenda. Our sources, for their part, observed enthusiasm, rather than entitlement: “There’s a nice, positive, energetic vibe to the firm. Even though we’re performing at a very high level, there’s not a pretentious bone in Weil’s body!”

Strategy & Future



The firm's growth strategy is also suited to associate development. Looking five years ahead, Wolf sees the firm “focusing on and growing its core strengths around the world. This will provide advancement for our associates to become partners. We will not necessarily be going into new practice areas or new geographies. Both practice-wise and office-wise we’ll be focusing on making our current platform even stronger than it is today.” Examine Weil's current US footprint and it's clear to see why that might be true. The firm has offices in all the important markets – DC, California, Massachusetts and Texas, but headcount is tiny compared to the New York office. If we look at second and third-year associates, four fifths reside in New York. Still, all of those offices receive a strong ranking from Chambers USA in at least one practice area – so budding associates have good options to get in on the ground floor.

The Work



Weil juniors are split between four main departments: litigation, corporate, tax, and business finance/restructuring. Corporate takes just over half of juniors, and the department is split out into practice groups such as capital markets, banking & finance, private equity/M&A, structured finance, real estate, and technology & IP transactions. Litigation takes roughly a third of associates. The department plays host to securities, antitrust, employment, regulatory and patent litigation, but the largest practice group is complex commercial litigation (CCL). Associates fill in a weekly report book to submit their availability and work preferences. Assignment partners “guide the process to make sure no one’s got too many hours.” However, a lot of work allocation “tends to be more flexible,” gained through approaching partners directly. To summarize, one associate's assertion that “Weil’s a place for someone who’s a go-getter” might hold some truth, but there is a notion of fair play at work too. “There are efforts made to make sure there’s no favoritism in who gets what work.”

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“I’ve seen things come out of nowhere that change the whole trajectory of the deal.”

Out of the corporate subgroups, private equity and M&A absorb most associates. Juniors rated the system for “learning the key differences and making what we do less monotonous!” Clients span “a nice spread of industries,” with a focus on technology and energy. The deals frequently hit the billions of dollars. On the private equity side, the group deals with “loads of the biggest private equity funds on their divestitures and investments, which is cool.” Though sources had worked on due diligence, associates told us that “nondisclosure agreements have taken up the most time.” Associates valued this for learning “a lot about negotiation and contract drafting. You start to see why NDAs makes sense and where the provisions come from.” Juniors had also tackled the drafting of LLC, shareholder and escrow agreements. Though day-to-day tasks don’t vary much between working on M&A and private equity, the problems that crop up do. “On M&A, I’ve seen things come out of nowhere that change the whole trajectory of the deal. We had a jump bid come in after signing. It was stressful because you have a ton more work to do out of nowhere!” Beyond New York, the Boston team performs best in corporate work relative to its state competitors.

Private equity/M&A clients: Campbell's Soup Company; energy company Kinder Morgan; European IT services corporation Atos. The firm recently advised Brookfield Asset Management on its $14.4 billion acquisition of the remaining share of GGP, a real estate investment trust focused on US shopping malls.

Banking and finance involves a lot of leveraged finance – that includes both acquisition finance and restructuring matters. Weil gets involved on both the lender and borrower sides, and investment-grade matters also feature. Private equity looms large here, with the firm “working sponsor side in private equity transactions” – but clients also include corporate borrowers and debt funds. Juniors get some heady responsibility, “drafting principal transaction documents, leading calls with clients and negotiating issues with the other side.” However, there’s a fair amount of grunt work too. “Someone’s got to do signature pages and keep documents moving. But we don’t leave people out to hang – we spread the work evenly and there’s always support.” The banking and finance group overwhelmingly recruits associates in New York.

Banking and finance clients: Goldman Sachs; Barclays; American Securities. Weil recently represented General Electric on its $19.8 billion unsecured revolving credit refinancing, and General Motors on credit facilities totaling $16.5 billion.

Over in litigation, most juniors join the complex commercial subgroup (CCL), with securities litigation another popular option for New Yorkers. The CCL group is “the broadest litigation group,” and its clients include insurers, media companies and financial institutions. Antitrust takes a number of associates in DC, as well as New York. Their work “spans all areas of antitrust from merger clearance to litigation to cartel work.” The DC office tends to focus on merger work with the DOJ and the FTC, and the New York group tends to focus more on the litigation and cartel work. Securities involves primarily working for “large institutions and corporations on shareholder lawsuits, securities class actions and fraud cases.” Across the board, litigation associates can be found preparing deponents, defending depositions, working on motions, corresponding with opposing counsel and gathering documents to prepare witnesses. “It’s definitely not boring or repetitive!”

Litigation clients: Credit Suisse; CBS; AIG; Morgan Stanley. In April 2019 the firm successfully defended C&S Wholesale Grocers against allegations of a conspiracy with another wholesaler, Supervalu, to inflate grocery prices.

Career Development



Associates benefit from seminars, webinars and formal feedback sessions, but Weil’s biggest training focus is on mentorship. “Mentoring is very important to us,” explains Wolf.  “I still have mentors: Ira Millstein [a senior partner at the firm] is one of the principal builders and leaders of Weil. He’s 92 and he works down the hall. His judgment and years of experience have been invaluable to me." The firm has started mentoring circles where groups of associates meet with two partners to “discuss things and ask questions.” The scheme started just for diverse associates but has since rolled out to the whole class.

“They do a great job of telling me I do a great job!”

Associates appreciated the emphasis on mentorship – “it’s the most valuable way I’ve got training. It’s so great to have someone looking over your shoulder helping you develop in the right way. They do a great job of telling me I do a great job!”

Though the partnership track has been shortened to 7.5 years, associates acknowledged that “the firm model isn’t that everyone stays forever!” But there’s no taboo – “everyone’s very forthright about it. Obviously Weil wants to retain talent as long as it can, but you’re encouraged even as a summer to talk about career paths.”

Hours & Compensation



Day to day, most interviewees aimed to be in the office for around 9:30am, and usually left after 7:30pm or 8pm. Doing a little extra work at home in the evening was also common. In Weil's work, clients are demanding, and all-nighters sometimes occur. “Tight timelines and tough deals can make it hard to have a very stable social life. But if you work hard and set your boundaries you can have it.”

“I think of it as the Goldilocks zone.”

But the firm is far from the worst out there. Weil doesn't require its associates to hit a billable target, which sources felt was “one of the nicest things about the firm.” From our interviews the average seemed to total 1,900, though some juniors had billed 300 hours more and less than that. “I think of it as the Goldilocks zone,” said one source. “Busy enough that you're developing, but not busy enough that you're burning out.” The fact their bonus wasn't tied to a number had interviewees feeling lucky compared to “peers at other firms who have a lot of stress around hitting certain requirements for bonuses.” Instead it's lockstep and class-based, as is the base salary, which follows the Milbank scale.

Pretty much every associate we spoke to mentioned the firm’s new work-from-home policy. From their third year, associates are now allowed to work one day a week from home, without question. “I’m really looking forward to it,” one second-year told us. “I’m glad to see the firm recognizes the value in having that flexibility.”

Culture



“This sounds weird, but our culture is respectful,” one associate told us. “Once you start, you’re a fully integrated part of the team. It makes you want to live up to the respect they’re giving you and it makes the long hours easier!” Associates we spoke to were happy spending time with their colleagues. We heard of associates hanging out after work, celebrating each other's birthdays, and holding 'Friendsgivings.' “I genuinely do care about my co-workers. If you want a place to feel at home, you can find your people here.”

“I genuinely do care about my co-workers.”

Though friendliness and inclusion were running themes across offices, we bumped into some cultural variation across the country. Silicon Valley sources told us: “We wear jeans, yoga pants – whatever the heck we want!” The smaller, regional offices all tended to be “a little less formal. Everyone you bump into, you know their name. It’s nice to know everyone – it provides more of a community feeling.” In New York “it’s completely different. Our group takes up an entire floor and I don’t even know everyone in it!” The size has its benefits though, as “there are plenty of people to bounce ideas off!”

Pro Bono



“Weil has a tagline that pro bono hours are our finest hours – it’s kind of cheesy, but it’s true.” Associates told us that pro bono is “strongly encouraged” and that “partners take it just as seriously as their billable work.” Every lawyer is expected to do at least 50 hours of pro bono work per year – our interviewees ranged between 25 and 200 hours. Those who had not reached the big 50 were reminded of their responsibilities. Every partner is also expected to work on a pro bono matter. There's a dedicated pro bono department based in New York, which is headed up by the firm's pro bono counsel; there are also regional representatives in each office to help distribute local opportunities.

Popular work includes citizenship issues and immigration cases. But as that can be time-consuming, it is common that juniors get involved with “smaller discrete projects you can take on.” The Innocence Project is the most popular of these, where lawyers work to exonerate wrongly convicted prisoners. “We look through their application and see if they’re candidates for representation. A lot of the firm works on that – it’s easy to fit into your schedule.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 44,470
  • Average per US attorney: 59

Diversity & Inclusion



“I’m really proud about what Weil’s doing – diversity is something they’re very attentive to.” The firm’s commitment to diversity, sources proposed, echoes back to the firm’s history of being “founded in the thirties by Jewish lawyers who couldn’t get jobs at a white shoe law firm. We’ve always had more of an open attitude, being open to change and welcoming a diverse set of lawyers.”

“Their commitment to diversity is significant!”

There's certainly investment being made. WeilPride, Weil's LGBTQ+ affinity group invites all LGBTQ+ attorneys from both sides of the Atlantic every two years for a conference (most recently in DC) – “it isn’t cheap to fly lawyers from all over the place for three days of seminars and training.” Other initiatives include mentoring circles, seminars and a $10,000 diversity fellowship, which “is not a significant amount toward a $200k law school debt,” but is still “helpful and says a lot about the firm’s commitment to making a positive impact and putting their money where their mouth is.” On a more sobering note, the representation of ethnic minorities and LGBT individuals among Weil's partnership is still way off brilliant.

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: 1,454

Interviewees outside OCI: 168

Weil interviews at 40 law schools and job fairs, and participates in resume collection programs at more than ten additional law schools. Interviews are conducted by members of the firm’s ‘hiring and steering committee’ or an alum of the particular school the OCI is taking place at. “We’re looking to ascertain whether the candidate knows what they're getting into and has an interest in what we do. A key trait of a successful associate is having a level of intellectual curiosity about what we do,” our hiring source at the firm tells us.

Top tips for this stage:

“The best interviews tend to be those with a conversational tone. We want candidates to be prepared and ready to discuss their background, unique and informative experiences they’ve had, and motivation for the future, as well as ask questions that exhibit their interest in the industry and our firm in particular.” – Weil hiring source.

Callbacks

Applicants invited to second stage interview: 677

Callback candidates interview with two partners and two associates. This stage may include a lunch with two additional associates. “Overall, the goal is to get a sense of each candidate, their motivations and their professional interests,” our hiring source tells us. Questions are geared toward gauging candidates’ “readiness to commit to, and qualifications for, a career that is both demanding and rewarding.” There is no one “type” of Weil lawyer our hiring source explains: “We’ve found that both introverts and extroverts can excel at the firm (and in interviews). When people are sincerely interested in a legal career at a top-notch firm, both for the intellectual challenge and the rewards, those interviews generally end up being fantastic.”

Top tips for this stage:

“If you’re a well-rounded, nice person you’ll do great. If you’re laid back but serious about wanting to be a good lawyer, you’ll do well here.” a junior associate.

“The most outstanding interviews tend to be with candidates who come in and are comfortable with themselves and their resumes–those that come across as sincere, interested, and engaged.” Weil hiring source.

Summer program

Offers: 450

Acceptances: 122

Our hiring source tells us that Weil’s summer program “is a good balance of real life, in terms of having a dose of life as a lawyer here, and a great introduction to networking and developing relationships that can last throughout a legal career.” Summer associates do “real work for clients in real-time, working closely with associates and partners throughout the firm. They get a sense of being on a team and being in the trenches on a matter.” There are shadowing engagements as well, where the summer is assigned to a partner for a day in order to shadow their routine on calls and in meetings: “The program gives our participants a good sense of what life will be like as a full-time associate at Weil.”

Most summer associates return as juniors; they are hired into specific practice groups based upon their preferences expressed at the end of the summer associate program.

Top tips for this stage:

“Summer associates succeed most when they do not have preconceived notions about their summer experience. Those who are ‘all-in’; those who proactively explore many areas of the firm by working and interacting with our attorneys; those who become part of a team that shares the common goal of client service and a sense of community.” our hiring source.

And finally…

Our hiring source tells us that in the end “talented individuals who want a seat at the table and an opportunity to tackle complex, challenging matters on behalf of world-class companies will find ample opportunities to shine.”

Interview with managing partner Barry Wolf



Coming soon...

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

767 Fifth Avenue,
New York,
NY 10153-0119
Website www.weil.com

  • Head Office: New York, NY
  • Number of domestic offices: 8
  • Number of international offices: 9
  • Worldwide revenue: $1.5 billion
  • Partners (US): 186
  • Associates (US): 553
  • Contacts  
  • Main recruitment contact: Wesley Powell (wesley.powell@weil.com)
  • Hiring partners: Joshua Amsel, Jackie Cohen
  • Diversity officer: Meredith Moore
  • Recruitment details 
  • Entry-level associates starting in 2019: 105
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2019:
  • 1Ls: 7, 2Ls: 132
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2019 split by office:
  • Boston: 6, Dallas: 8, Miami: 1, New York: 108*, Silicon Valley: 8*, Washington, DC: 8* (*includes candidates splitting offices)
  • Summer salary 2018:
  • 1Ls: $3,654
  • 2Ls: $3,654
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in an overseas office? Case by case

Main areas of work



 The firm offers legal counsel in more than two dozen practice areas categorized by the following groups: business finance and restructuring, corporate, litigation and tax.

Firm profile



 Founded in 1931, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has been a preeminent provider of legal services for more than 80 years. With approximately 1,100 lawyers in offices on three continents, Weil has been a pioneer in establishing a geographic footprint that has allowed the firm to partner with clients wherever they do business. The firm’s four departments, corporate, litigation, business finance and restructuring, and tax, executive compensation and benefits, and more than two dozen practice groups are consistently recognized as leaders in their respective fields. Weil has become a highly visible leader among major law firms for its innovative diversity and pro bono initiatives, the product of a comprehensive and long-term commitment which has ingrained these values into our culture. Our proven, demonstrated experience allows the firm to provide clients with unmatched legal services. Please see www.weil.com for more information, including awards and rankings.

Recruitment



Law schools attending for OCIs in 2019:
Weil has a diversified approach to its recruiting process. Firm-wide, Weil interviews at 40 law schools and job fairs and participates in resume collection programs at more than 10 other law schools. For a complete list, please visit careers.weil.com.

Recruitment outside OCIs:
Weil has a diversified approach to its recruiting process. Firm-wide, Weil interviews at 40 law schools and job fairs and participates in resume collection programs at more than 10 other law schools. For a complete list, please visit careers.weil.com.

Summer associate profile:
Weil’s summer associate program provides an exceptional opportunity for outstanding law students from across the nation to explore a career in the practice of law. Weil seeks candidates with exceptional credentials, both in terms of qualifications and character.

Summer program components:
Summer associates may work in a total of one to three departments of their choice. They are assigned to active transactional and litigation matters and attend client meetings, negotiations, depositions and court hearings. This enables them to gain a much clearer idea of their choice of future practice area and obtain a realistic view of what it is like to practice law at the firm. Weil organizes special seminars during the summer to discuss particular fields of specialization and topics of interest to law students and to provide training in such areas as negotiation, litigation and writing skills. The firm assigns both associate and partner mentors whose role is to guide the summer associate throughout his or her summer experience, both personally and professionally. Feedback is a critical element of the summer experience. Assigning attorneys regularly evaluate the summer associate’s performance and written product, in much the same way that a senior attorney reviews a junior attorney’s work. The summer associate’s performance is formally evaluated twice during the summer.

Social Media



Recruitment website: careers.weil.com
Twitter: @WeilGotshal
Facebook: WeilGotshal
Instagram: @weilgotshal
Linkedin: Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2019

Ranked Departments

    • Corporate/M&A: Private Equity (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 3)
    • IT & Outsourcing: Transactions (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 1)
    • Litigation: General Commercial (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 2)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 3)
    • Labor & Employment (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Band 4)
    • Media & Entertainment: Corporate (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 1)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 4)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Technology & Outsourcing (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 5)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Antitrust: Cartel (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Issuer Representation (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 3)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 3)
    • Securities: Litigation (Band 3)
    • Securities: Regulation Recognised Practitioner
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 2)