Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP - The Inside View

New York giant WG&M was helping massive companies through good times and bad Weil you were still in diapers.

Becoming a lawyer is an easy to way to impress friends and relatives, especially if you can work on the big deals and cases that hit mainstream news headlines. It must be hard for Weil’s attorneys not to hog the limelight at dinner parties with stories of the massive bankruptcies their firm has worked on lately – think Lehman Brothers, Sears and lately Chuck E. Cheese. Or perhaps they could talk acquisitions: whether that’s Facebook buying WhatsApp, DIRECTV’s $49 billion sale to AT&T, or Dow Chemical and DuPont’s $130 billion merger. “It’s sexy, impressive and headline-grabbing work,” one Weil junior proudly declared. “Every time a case is in the news, friends ask if it’s something I’ve worked on!”

>>TOP READ: How effective leadership can power DEI efforts, by Weil.

Chambers USA applauds the firm’s work on a national level with a top ranking for bankruptcy & restructuring and strong showings for antitrust, banking & finance, elite corporate/M&A, product liability and tax law. Weil boasts eight offices in the US and seven overseas; 90 years on from its foundation, the New York HQ remains the largest and shines in the bankruptcy, technology & outsourcing, commercial litigation, M&A, media & entertainment and tax spaces.

“It’s sexy, impressive and headline-grabbing work.”

Several of the other offices earn rankings in their own right – DC is especially strong in antitrust and environment law, while Boston is a corporate and private equity stronghold and the California bases score multiple corporate, IP and IT rankings. The lion’s share of associates on our list were based in New York, with smaller cohorts in Boston, Dallas and DC and a handful each in Houston, Miami and Silicon Valley.

Weil stood out in our research this year for its impressive response to the pandemic.>

Strategy & Future



With global revenue steadily growing to a $1.66billion peak in 2020, it’s easy to believe juniors’ claims that “the deals are only growing more high-profile and our name recognition is becoming even more commonplace.” Weil is well positioned to take leading roles in the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. “I don’t think Weil will grow as fast as other firms,” sources nonetheless cautioned. “We have large countercyclical business groups so that’s why we’re doing so well financially now.” We heard that team bankruptcy is busy and “firing well,” recently bringing in a number of midlevel associates to “ease the burden.” Interviewees were largely optimistic about the firm’s long-term prospects: “We’re doing very well and are confident with where we’re at.”

“We have large countercyclical business groups so that’s why we’re doing so well financially now.”

The Work



Four broad practices are open to new juniors: litigation, corporate, restructuring and tax. The first two are the largest and in turn split into various subdivisions. In each group, assigning partners are on hand to process juniors’ availability reports and dole out work. “The partners mainly check in to make sure you have sufficient work on your plate and assign more if you’ve got space,” a source explained.

Under the corporate umbrella you’ll find groups including private equity (the #1 most common destination for juniors), M&A (#2) and banking and finance (#3). It may be the silver medalist, but team M&A is nothing to be sniffed at, advising on 80 transactions larger than $1 billion in 2019. Juniors here found opportunities to work “both buy and sell side” in deals of varying sizes. “I’m on one right now worth around $2 billion,” a junior calmly told us, “but I’ve worked on a deal with a small $20 million asset.” ‘Small’ is of course a relative term… M&A juniors were “surprised by how much responsibility and client contact we get off the bat.Very quickly, diligence review flows into disclosure schedules for merger agreements.”

“It’s what you make of it. There are opportunities to take on bigger items.”

The private equity group advises 70% of the top 25 private equity firms (as ranked by PEI 300) worldwide. Our junior interviewees worked on “good newsworthy deals” from buy and sell side including projects for special purpose acquisition companies. “Private equity is very regimented, with juniors doing foundational items,” and those we spoke to were keeping busy on diligence review. “It’s what you make of it,” one suggested. “There are opportunities to take on bigger items” like larger memos and ancillary documents; “the firm is willing to let you make that progress if you want to.”

Corporate clients: Campbell Soup Company, Maxim Integrated Products, Emerald Performance Materials. Advised corporate risk advisory services provider Willis Towers Watson in its $80 billion combination with Aon.

Juniors reckoned there’s “no better place than Weil” to launch a career in bankruptcy and restructuring law. Celebrating the “very technical and cerebral practice,” our sources bent over backwards to big up the team. “It can’t be overstated how often the high-profile matters go to Weil, getting us work you just wouldn’t see elsewhere.” The facts do back up their boasts: the firm served as chief debtors’ counsel in six of the seven largest bankruptcy filings in American history. Seeing matters from both the debtor and creditor side, juniors dived into drafting board minutes, helping write scripts for partners to use in court and drafting disclosure statements and motions. “We’re playing with live ammo,” one declared. “Every call matters and it’s cool to watch these things unfold at such a young stage of legal practice.” Another added: “The firm trusts your intelligence and it feels like a meritocracy.”

Restructuring clients: Brooks Brothers, CEC Entertainment, NPC International. Acted for Pacific Gas and Electric in its Chapter 11 cases following wildfires in Northern California prompting a $25.5 billion settlement.

Most juniors in the disputes practice end up in either complex commercial or securities litigation. Antitrust, patent prosecution, product liability, employment and white-collar work is also on offer. Complex commercial litigators found a large portion of their work to be bankruptcy litigation, often for oil and gas companies. Securities juniors were likewise often “assisting the bankruptcy team with litigation issues,” as well as dealing with disputes spun out from an M&A deal gone awry, fraud cases and litigation related to private equity.

“Assisting the bankruptcy team with litigation issues.”

Antitrust juniors spent their time “evaluating competitive concerns and analyzing transactions,” which can lead to “advocacy in front of the FTC or DOJ once filed.” They were also staffed on civil litigation brought against the firm’s clients, working mainly on the defense side. Both the DC and New York offices offer plenty of work like this. Juniors all across the firm were pleased with the responsibility on offer: “I do redactions and specialist privilege reviews, and I know for a fact that’s not the case for friends at peer firms. The securities team in particular gives out lots of responsibility for associates.”

Litigation clients: Sears, Sanofi, ExxonMobil. Represented Farmers Insurance in dozens of cases brought by auto repair shops, alleging Farmers and other insurers artificially suppressed reimbursement rates for auto body repairs.

Career Development



“They want to see us get better, but if you want opportunities then you have to speak up and demonstrate good work,” according to one junior who echoed the opinions of many. “Wallflowers don’t do well at Weil.” Being proactive is a necessary trait at this firm, and we heard the onus is on the individual to push for their own progression. “Learning trial by fire is not for everyone, it’s about being comfortable feeling uncomfortable.” We’d be wrong to say the firm isn’t invested in associate development, but don’t expect to be spoon-fed: “When I’m proactive and trying to help myself, that’s when supervisors are even more responsive. It’s a collaborative commitment from both parties.” Juniors were consistently impressed with the informal mentorship on offer, but formal mentoring programs drew more mixed reviews.

“Wallflowers don’t do well at Weil.”

The firm has recently shortened its typical partnership track from nine years to roughly seven and a half. While the criteria are now “clearer than before” and there’s reportedly “more emphasis on promoting associates more quickly,” juniors felt it will take time for the changes to yield visible results. “Partnership is attainable,” one concluded, “but it’s not necessarily clear how to get there.”

Hours & Compensation



One thing that is clear – Weil has no billing target for its associates. That’s not necessarily the brilliant news it might sound like on paper: “While it’s nice in the sense that you don’t feel pressure to reach a specific target, it’s tough to not know the expectations,” juniors noted. Reports suggested that Weil runs close to the BigLaw average on hours. “It is pretty bad, I can’t sugarcoat that,” a restructuring associate said. “It ebbs and flows but I’ve done nine weeks of 85100 hours in a row… things don’t get much worse than that.” Others had similar tales: “I think it’s tough because expectations aren’t always necessarily clear, and you question yourself.”

“When I get my check, the hours are worth it.”

Associates are paid in lockstep at market rate. In 2020, ‘COVID bonuses’ on top of the standard package were determined by hours billed. It’s no surprise that sources appreciated this pick-me-up after a very hard year: “I’m thrilled with the extra bonuses for high billable hours,” one told us. “Lots of associates were very happy as we were super busy. It was nice to receive that recognition.” Another hard-working insider weighed in: “When I get my check, the hours are worth it.”

Pro Bono



We heard from sources who suggested that “if you’re on a pro bono case, it won’t get shoved to the side for a billable matter.” A smaller number added caveats: “I’m encouraged to take on pro bono but have been very careful not to do too much because it might not get the time it deserves.” All agreed that’s there’s a “robust pro bono group” at the firm, and each attorney receives a trophy for reaching 50 hours in a year. “If you’ve done zero hours, you’ll get an email from a staffing partner reminding you to pick things up!”

We heard from associates involved with the International Refugee Assistance Project, assisting religious liberty and anti-Semitism groups, providing restructuring advice for nonprofits and more. The New York-based Innocence Project is a popular collaboration, and the firm – alongside Skadden – is working to clear the organization’s backlog with all first-years picking up a number of cases. One source gave us their story: “I was running conflicts and drafting engagement letters. Pro bono is a cool way to get a different kind of substantive work.”

Pro bono hours

  • For all US attorneys: 63,067.9
  • Average per US attorney: 80

Culture



When attorneys need to “pull an all-nighter,” a partner doing a coffee run “remembers everyone’s particular order. Weil is full of thoughtful and good people.” A thriving social scene includes practice-specific events like restructuring’s Wednesday tradition of getting meals from a local restaurant and “eating together and chatting like a family.” Friday nights in New York come with office-wide pizza, beer and wine. “It’s a great way to informally bond,” juniors told us between bites and sips. In the grip of COVID-19 there was an appetite for more socializing, but work calendars didn’t leave much room. “People are willing to get involved with new events but everyone’s very busy, so nobody can plan them,” a busy bee said. “I wanted to do a monthly trivia night, but just didn’t have the time to set it up.”

“We care about each other as people and not just as lawyers.”

“It’s collaborative and not cut-throat at all; we care about each other as people and not just as lawyers.” Across the firm’s US offices, a consensus emerged that “people at Weil are genuinely nice and well intentioned, which makes it easier to do the long hours.” Many enjoyed opportunities “to talk freely about hobbies and interests,” reinforcing what some described as a “chill and non-stuffy vibe” (for a law firm, at least).

Diversity & Inclusion



Speakers come into the firm for regular diversity-focused talks to discuss the challenges faced by particular groups. Well-attended affinity groups are in place “for all kinds of diversity”; there’s also an internal program known as Upstander “where you can show you’ve taken affirmative steps to make Weil a more inclusive space.” The firm obviously still has a way to go from various D&I standpoints, but a 28% female partnership is better than many in New York BigLaw.

Weil provided black associates with free therapy sessions following the killing of George Floyd, and recently funded “a conference for black attorneys across the nation to network and go through professional development courses.” Sources also welcomed the firm’s most recent partnership class, “the most diverse it's ever had,” and noted that entry-level diversity is improving too thanks partly to a reformed approach: “The firm’s been taking graduates from non-T14 schools to find the real gems out there.”

Get Hired



The first stage: recruitment on and off campus

OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed

Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed

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: undisclosed

Callback candidates interview with two partners and two 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 candidate you’ll do great. If you’re prepared and 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 are comfortable with themselves and their resumes–those that come across as sincere, interested, and engaged.”  Weil hiring source.

Summer program

Offers: undisclosed

Acceptances: undisclosed

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.”

 

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: 7
  • Worldwide revenue: $1.657 billion
  • Partners (US): 192
  • Counsel (US): 111
  • Associates (US): 530
  • 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 2021: 129
  • Clerking policy: Yes
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021: 131 1Ls 10, 2Ls 121 
  • Summers joining/anticipated 2021 split by office: Boston 6, Dallas 9, Miami 1, New York 98, Silicon Valley 10, Washington, DC 7
  • Summer salary 2021: 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 practices areas categorized by the following groups: 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, 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 2021:
Benjamin N. Cardozo, Boston College, Boston University, Brooklyn, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Emory, Fordham, George Mason, Georgetown, Harvard, Howard, Lavender Law Job Fair, Loyola Patent Job Fair, NEBALSA Job Fair, New York Law School, New York University, Northwestern, Northeast Interview Program (Washington and Lee /William & Mary Law Job Fair), Notre Dame, On Tour Regional Program, Santa Clara, SMU, Stanford, St. John’s, Suffolk , Tulane /University of Washington New York Interview Program, UCLA, University of Pennsylvania, UC Berkeley, UC Hastings, University of Miami, University of Michigan, University of San Francisco, University of Texas, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Yale

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 over 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.

Diversity Fellowship:
One of the qualities distinguishing Weil from our peers is our culture. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have been core values since our founding. We created the Weil Diversity Fellowship Program to welcome the next generation of diverse attorneys who want to pursue careers at Weil. Weil Diversity Fellowships are available to students who are enrolled in an ABA-accredited law school and intend to practice law in a major city of the United States in which Weil has an office. For additional details, please visit (https://careers.weil.com/diversity-and-inclusion).

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, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Corporate/M&A: Private Equity: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 3)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Technology: Transactions (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 1)
    • Tax (Band 5)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Corporate/M&A (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 1)
    • Antitrust (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property: Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets (Band 2)
    • Labor & Employment: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Litigation: Securities (Band 2)
    • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment: Corporate (Band 3)
    • Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 2)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 2)
    • Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 3)
    • Tax (Band 2)
    • Technology (Band 1)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 5)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 3)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 5)
    • Antitrust (Band 2)
    • Antitrust: Cartel (Band 3)
    • Banking & Finance (Band 2)
    • Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 1)
    • Capital Markets: Equity: Issuer Counsel (Band 3)
    • Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 3)
    • Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 2)
    • Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (Band 4)
    • Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional) (Band 4)
    • Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 2)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 4)
    • Life Sciences (Band 4)
    • Private Equity: Buyouts: High-end Capability (Band 3)
    • Private Equity: Fund Formation (Band 2)
    • Product Liability & Mass Torts: Highly Regarded (Band 1)
    • Product Liability: Consumer Class Actions (Band 2)
    • Real Estate (Band 5)
    • Securities: Litigation (Band 3)
    • Securities: Regulation: Advisory (Band 1)
    • SPACs (Band 2)
    • Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 2)
    • Technology (Band 4)