Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP - The Inside View

While Weil is best known for bankruptcy work, actually corporate and litigation have been the mainstays for quite a while...

LEHMAN Brothers. Enron. American Airlines. MF Global. General Motors. You guessed it, these are five of the biggest bankruptcies in history, and Weil Gotshal dealt with the fallout from each of these massive implosions. The countercyclical nature of bankruptcy/restructuring work reassured at least one associate that it "gives us job security if the markets go bad." Well up to a point, because most junior associates here are in the corporate and litigation practices, and bankruptcy only houses around 10% of Weil's lawyers.

"Fifteen years ago," executive partner Barry Wolf highlights, "we set out to build a first-class private equity practice and then turn to M&A. We have built one of the top private equity practices and are now continuing to build out one of the top public M&A practices in the world." Given today's healthier economy, "the private equity practice will get stronger and M&A will continue to grow in terms of head count and revenue... In terms of our litigation practice... it speaks for itself and is top-flight." Meanwhile, "our restructuring practice might be slightly slower given the continuing strength of the US economy, but it is still extremely busy." This 85-year-old New York stalwart achieves its highest (Band 1) Chambers USA rankings for bankruptcy, private equity, and litigation (specifically entertainment-related), and excellent ratings for other areas including general litigation, corporate/M&A, tax, intellectual property, and banking & finance.

The Work

First for some data. At the time of our calls, our interviewee pool of junior associates who joined Weil in 2013 and 2014 was distributed among the following practice groups (numbers in brackets): corporate (65); litigation (43); tax, benefits & executive compensation (9); and business finance & restructuring (7). Within litigation, the subgroups are complex commercial litigation (19), securities litigation (9), patent litigation (5), antitrust/competition (4), product liability/mass tort/environmental (2), employment litigation (2), and regulatory (2). In corporate, they are private equity/M&A (PEMA; 34), banking & finance (10), technology & IP transactions (7), capital markets (5), structured finance (4), private funds, (3) public company advisory group (1), and real estate (1).

Summer associates toward the end of their summer submit practice preferences. These are combined with partner assessments to determine where associates are assigned when they join as first-years. Specialist teams like patent litigation usually require prior expertise of some sort, and “someone's background plays into how work is assigned, with partners taking it into account to assign you work that you can do but that pushes you.” Generally, associates in larger groups indicate their availability for work in weekly reports, while those in smaller teams often work with one or two partners who dole out work. Many associates get work through a mix of the formal and informal methods. “Partners are receptive to associates asking for work,” sources told us. As a general rule, “those who really care about the work and are hungry to ask for assignments lend themselves to better work."

"Happy and surprised at the level of responsibility."

Associates in all groups can expect decent responsibility early on, "depending on how much you are trusted and willing to take on.” A litigator, for example, relished lots of doc review and deposition prep because "you have to be the owner of the facts," and was rewarded by being “brought into depositions all across the country.” Another was "very happy and surprised at the level of responsibility I've been given because in a lot of assignments I get the first crack at making a recommendation. If I don't think we can do it, people believe I did the necessary work and go with it." That fact it's "not given to five different associates for five different answers makes me give my best efforts." Someone in the complex commercial litigation subgroup did lots of "doc review, then I then got pretty involved and went to trial five or six times, and helped prep witnesses. Partners decide if they're comfortable giving you responsibility. It's needs-based but also depends if they like you and the interest you show." 

Corporate associates told us they're “expected to do the heavy lifting like reviewing agreements for clients and summarizing key provisions.” In the big private equity subgroup, "I am the point person for managing older portfolio companies, I'm staffed on private equity bids, draft memos, prepare for diligence calls. Leading them is more common for second-years but as a first-year I was able to do this. M&A is really case-specific. Clients are demanding so you need to interface with them, and juniors do get interesting work to do."  Deal sizes "range from venture capital and middle market to billion dollar-plus. It depends on the fund cycle. This allows juniors to step up and take responsibility and work on things that end up in the newspaper." In a smaller corporate team, work "varies depending on the deal, but I'm normally drafting core documents, making closing checklists, talking with clients on the phone and via email." Client contact is pretty good: "I client-interfaced constantly in my first year," many revealed.  

Training & Development

Associates explained that “every two weeks there is a general firmwide training broadcast from office to office.” Other events are divided by practice groups and can count toward CLE requirements. Junior litigators are treated to evidence and deposition workshops in New York. Bostonian private equity newbies have “concrete training such as reading contracts and then discussing what to do next with your group as a whole.” With two partners who are professors at NYU, it's no wonder that associates praise programs led by “sharp and committed experts in their field who are always willing to teach.”

Initiatives such as “Lunch and Learn,” in which “an associate and a partner prepare a topic to present to the group as a whole,” are common in most offices. However, their frequency and subject areas differ. One associate hoped that there could be more balance between “cutting-edge stuff” necessary to keep ahead of the curve, and “the basics.”

“Sharp and committed experts in their field."

In terms of appraisals, juniors undergo two yearly reviews. Some associates indicated that “the reviews are pretty similar, so maybe they need to raise more improvement points which are glossed over now.” Nevertheless, associates choose their reviewers from a list of partners with whom they have worked. The feedback is then discussed in first an informal meeting. Two partners typically vocalize the “collated feedback coupled with how you are doing in your class level.”

Offices & Culture

The New York HQ is in the "iconic" GM Building overlooking Central Park. First-year New Yorkers should expect to share with an office mate for at least three years. “It's helpful in the beginning to ask questions and bounce around ideas with someone who can't get mad at you!” Those in Boston have an annual “moving day,” where they move from first-year, single-windowed offices, to second-year, double-windowed residences. It might not be the GM Building, but Boston associates were quick to retort that “you come here for the community and not the architecture,” and mentioned they enjoy an office popcorn machine.

"We have to staff from other offices."

Regardless of location, associates attested that “it says something about our culture that people in general want to spend time with each other outside of the office.” One junior based outside Manhattan assured us that “we generate more work than we can staff, so we have to staff from other offices, including New York. We are New York-centric in the sense that it's the mothership, but we aren't dependent on it.” Most associates interviewed agreed that Weil is a place where “you are given the freedom to approach problems how you need to, and there's an expectation that you can manage it and produce top-level work.”

Location also plays a part in the type of work encountered. Boston has been “constantly running bids” this year in a thriving PEMA group, with Dallas in a similar position. Silicon Valley holds the fort in patent litigation simultaneously with DC, which also has expertise in antitrust. New York is a leader in all things bankruptcy/restructuring, with the M&A team shining particularly bright.

Hours & Compensation

Hours vary based on office location and practice group. Some PEMA associates in New York mentioned occasional 2am finishes. However, on the whole, juniors found themselves arriving for work around 9am and leaving ten or 12 hours later. In past years, associates have told us tales of napping under their desks, which some wear as a badge of honor: "Once or twice when a deal is closing, I'm here all night and I would sleep at my desk or under it, but that's because it's an emergency.”

"It's times of stress where personal relationships matter."

A Bostonian mused that it's “times of stress where personal relationships matter and it's here that you build loyalty and can truly test the working environment.” Comparing their situation to peers at other similar BigLaw firms, some juniors felt that 1,800 hours was about the right number to aim for, although “no one cares; it creates unnecessary stress, especially in corporate where we don't have control over our hours as deals can fall apart in minutes.”

Pro Bono

Pro bono is “heralded at the firm,” reported one interviewee. Each associate is expected to devote 50 hours a year to pro bono cases. However, in reality many have “already eclipsed that by three or four times.” Firmwide emails make the rounds daily, coupled with lunchtime discussions that give further opportunities to engage in casework. There certainly is variety, with associates being granted the chance to work beyond their own practice areas. One associate highlighted that “it's a great leeway to engage in whatever area I want.”

“If you are not doing it, you're asked why!”

The stakes have never been higher, as offices are actively encouraged to battle it out for the Pro Bono Cup. The Cup honors the office with the most pro bono hours, “divided by the number of attorneys in that office,” and is presented at a ceremony which is beamed across all offices, “even the international ones.” The common attitude is: “If you are not doing it, you're asked why!”

Pro bono hours 

  • For all attorneys across all US offices: 40,000+ 
  • Average per US attorney: 60


Associates praised the firm's “very concerted effort to focus on diversity, but there is room for improvement.” Affinity groups such as 'Women@Weil' in particular have a visible global presence. One associate remarked that “there are initiatives that attract women at law school to get involved with 'Women@Weil' – it acts as a feeder toward the summer associate program.” Weil also has “a long-standing practice of awarding diversity scholarships,” say hiring committee cochairs Josh Amsel and Jackie Cohen. “It started in respect to 1Ls and now we also have extended it to 2Ls. We encourage diverse candidates to apply by writing a personal statement about diversity and why they are particularly deserving of this scholarship. ”

"Awarding diversity scholarships.”

One initiative is the provision of direct access to the management committee by means of a liaison person within each affinity group. Also, a global task force has also been implemented to discuss the retention of women at the firm. Executive partner Barry Wolf stresses: “We are entrepreneurial and are willing to try new things and be ahead of the pack.”  

Get Hired

When asked what makes a candidate successful, the broad response was that it boils down to who will "fit in here.” Grades can only get you so far. One associate asserted that “GPA gets you the interview, but in the interview, it's very focused on the personality fit criteria: someone who is team-building, has ambition and a curiosity to learn.” Another stressed: “It's clear we are looking for bright go-getters, but also people who pass the 2am test. They are the people you want to be in the office with past 2am.”

"We do expect you to throw yourself in."

Hiring cochairs Josh Amsel and Jackie Cohen add that the most successful candidates show “enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity, pragmatism and sound judgment. We are a firm built by dynamic lawyers who are not afraid to forge their own paths – and we hope to find young lawyers who will see the world differently and are excited to 'think outside the box.'” For the full interview with Amsel and Cohen, go online. Barry Wolf advises that, intellect aside, "we are looking for people who want to be awarded a lot of responsibility and who are willing to step out and thrive in our diverse culture. I chose this firm in 1983 as a summer associate, having interviewed in 1982. I picked Weil because it has an entrepreneurial spirit and truly cares about its people. Thirty-one years on, it has really lived up to that. ”

Strategy & Future

Moving from strength to strength, it has been a good year for Weil's M&A practice in particular, which at the time of writing had accrued nearly $500 billion worth of completed transactions. In light of this growth, the firm's HQ is undergoing a complete transformation. Over the next three years, Weil plans to “floor by floor, make every square foot brand new.” The reason for this change, according to Barry Wolf, is to “make the space more efficient and compatible with how we work today.” Wolf aims to “continue to strengthen the cultural hallmarks that are central to who we are as a firm, including our entrepreneurial and pioneering spirit.” 

Interview with executive partner Barry Wolf

Chambers Associate: What have been the firm's biggest highlights over the past year?

Barry Wolf: Well, there have been many highlights; the firm has had a very good year. As we all know, M&A has been very strong and we ranked first in global M&A with nearly $500 billion worth of completed transactions. In terms of our private equity practice, we have ranked second globally based on volume and deal count. On the corporate transactions side, we are the lead lawyers to General Electric on the strategic implementation of its plan to sell most of GE Capital’s assets. That is being completed through a number of deals, including the recent $30 billion sale of GE's commercial lending and leasing businesses to Wells Fargo, in which we are representing GE.

We also have dealt with many high profile antitrust cases for major clients like Johnson & Johnson, Staples, Actavis, among many others. In litigation, again we have had major wins for CBS, Lululemon, Vivendi and P&G, among others. Moving now to our bankruptcy/ restructuring practice, we are presently advising A&P in its chapter 11, the most talked about restructuring deal of the year, and we have been dealing with the auction of 150 different stores. So it has been an equally busy and high profile year and we are being rewarded for it. In fact, our co-chair of the Business Finance & Restructuring department, Marcia Goldstein, was named as one of the 50 most influential women in New York by Crain's New York Business. In the past year, we have also added 12 new partners, 15 new internal promotions of counsel and have made six lateral partner hires.

CA: Looking toward the future, why have you decided to renovate the New York office now?

BW: Our New York headquarters are housed in one of the most prestigious buildings in New York, the GM building. We have been able to successfully renegotiate a financially attractive lease extension and now we can stay here for the foreseeable future. This space hasn't been significantly updated in about 20 years so we are undertaking a major renovation to make the space more efficient and compatible with how we work today. For instance, we no longer have receptionists on each floor and have less need for paper storage. Over the next two to three years we will, floor by floor, make every square foot brand new. We hope that come December/January, some of us can start to move into the new space. So far, we are on time and on budget.

CA: Also looking ahead, how would you describe firm strategy overall? Are any new offices planned?

BW: Presently, there are no new offices being talked about. Our true focus is on strengthening what we already have and integrating all our offices on a global level to an even further extent.

CA: Given that some of our readers wouldn't be joining Weil for another couple of years, what would you hope the firm will look like by that time?

BW: I would want us to continue to have roughly the same geographic footprint and continue to be among the top premier practices in league tables, but with even better results. The firm will be somewhat bigger and stronger and I would want Weil's performance to improve year-in and year-out. In addition, I aim to continue to strengthen the cultural hallmarks that are central to who we are as a firm, including our entrepreneurial and pioneering spirit.

CA: On the subject of the firm's improved performance, what are the hot practice areas right now?

BW: Fifteen years ago, we set out to build a first class private equity practice and then turn to M&A. We have built one of the top private equity practices and are now continuing to build out one of the top public M&A practices in the world under the leadership of our Corporate Department head Michael Aiello. The private equity practice will get stronger and M&A will continue to grow in terms of headcount and revenue, so it will stay at the top. In terms of our litigation practice, which is co-led by Jonathan Polkes and David Lender, it speaks for itself and is top flight, as we serve some of the largest companies and financial institutions in the world on solving their most complex litigation matters. Yes, our restructuring practice might be slightly slower given the continuing strength of the U.S. economy, but it is still extremely busy. We are well balanced, with different practice groups that can offset each other in changing economic times.

CA: Speaking of restructuring and bankruptcy, we were sorry to learn of Harvey Miller's passing. How has this affected Weil in light of the pioneering work he did with Lehman Bros?

BW: First and foremost, Harvey Miller was a legend. He created the bankruptcy practice as every law firm knows it today. There will probably never be another bankruptcy lawyer like him. But he built the practice and trained the best bankruptcy practitioners in the field and we are fortunate to have many of them working at Weil. Yes, his work with Lehman was, to use your word 'pioneering', but the firm has done so much more. Taking into account Enron and General Motors, Weil has handled in five of the six largest U.S. debtor cases in history. That is what he built. Through his training and development, some of the best bankruptcy practitioners to have ever existed are helping to preserve his legacy here at Weil.

CA: There seems to have been a big push in diversity at Weil this year. Can you tell us about it? What are you doing that is progressive?

BW: We are proud of what we have achieved in diversity this year, but this is not something that is new at Weil. Diversity is ingrained in our culture and we have long been a first-mover in this area. We have a lot of affinity groups at Weil, but something that is unique and progressive about them is the fact that we have management committee members who serve as a representative of each group. They are not part of the affinity groups but rather maintain a direct line of contact between affinity groups and firm management. We have also set up a global task force of both male and female partners to discuss the retention of women at the firm. These efforts in respect to progressiveness exist throughout the entire firm, not just in the U.S., and are a cornerstone of our culture. We are entrepreneurial and are willing to try new things and be ahead of the pack when it comes to diversity and other initiatives.

CA: On a final note, in terms of hiring strategy, what makes a potential candidate stand out to you?

BW: Well, we all accept as a given the quality of intellect. But we also take into account the nature of the personality of the candidate. We are looking for people who like being entrepreneurial and enjoy being part of a team. We are looking for people who want to be awarded a lot of responsibility and who are willing to step out and thrive in our diverse culture. I chose this firm in 1983 as a summer associate, having interviewed in 1982. I picked Weil because it has an entrepreneurial spirit and truly cares about its people. Thirty one years on, it has really lived up to that.

Interview with cochairs of the hiring committee, Josh Amsel and Jackie Cohen

Chambers Associate: Roughly how many associates do you take on each year?

Josh Amsel & Jackie Cohen: It varies how many associates we hire each year. We do have targets in terms of numbers, but it does fluctuate. In recent years, we have had between 70 to 80 incoming associates, but then when we take into account our 3L hiring, it can increase.

CA: What's the scope of your recruiting drive based on the schools you visit?

JA & JC: Weil has a diversified approach to its recruiting process. We tend to recruit from the top 20 to 25 law schools. However, firmwide, Weil interviews at more than 45 law schools and job fairs, and participates in several resume collection programs. This approach stems from the fact that some of our partners didn’t attend top 20 schools, so we don't want to miss out on talent just because of law school rankings. Our firm is non-hierarchical in our thinking and approach, and our partners appreciate that people’s paths grow and evolve in many different ways, and we look for people who have thrived across the spectrum of law schools. Once we pool our candidates together, we look for personalities that will fit in with our culture. We are very much of the mindset there is a universe of people working here from different schools, but we are all Weil attorneys, so what school an individual attended becomes less important once you’re here.

CA: As Weil is synonymous with bankruptcy/ restructuring work, do you think that the slightly slower demand for this practice has affected the type of candidates who are drawn to the firm?

JA & JC: Not at all. Regarding our bankruptcy practice, the people who want to specialize in bankruptcy still come to us, and we have a strong pipeline of talent at all levels. That said, while we maintain the platinum brand in bankruptcy in the marketplace, the practice remains only about 10% of our lawyer count globally, and as such, only about 10% of our new associates join our bankruptcy practice each year. All of our practices are extremely busy right now, and there is a great buzz across the firm overall and within bankruptcy, which has been seeing an uptick in recent months.

CA: What does Weil do to encourage diversity in its recruiting practice?

JA & JC: Diversity is a core value of the firm. Weil has been a leader in investing in formal initiatives to empower an inclusive culture, one of respect and support, to create an environment where all attorneys and staff feel comfortable and encouraged to excel. All of our lawyers who are involved in the recruiting process actively encourage and promote diversity. Our commitment to diversity manifests itself at the highest levels of the firm – as just one example, six members of the firm’s 17-member Management Committee (more than one-third) are diverse individuals. We also have a great variety of proactive affinity groups at Weil. We have groups for Women, Asian attorneys, Black attorneys, Latino attorneys and LGBT attorneys. They have all really taken the reins to offer independent activities as part of the recruiting process by going to different schools, and setting up various events and diversity dinners. These efforts have been extremely successful in increasing recruitment. Partners at Weil support the diversity efforts by attending these events regardless of membership in the affinity group.

We also have a long-standing practice of awarding diversity scholarships. It started in respect to 1Ls and now we also have extended it to 2Ls. We encourage diverse candidates to apply by writing a personal statement about diversity and why they are particularly deserving of this scholarship. The applications are reviewed by both the hiring and diversity committees. One thing to note is that this isn't a separate track from the usual hiring process. Diversity fellowships are offered to a subset of candidates who are otherwise receiving offers to join our summer program, as an additional incentive.

CA: What are the do's and don'ts in a Weil interview?

JA & JC: Do your research - It is important to have a general understanding of Weil and whether your goals and interests align with those of the firm. We do not necessarily expect students to know what they want to specialize in, but rather, it’s more important that they show their enthusiasm. We also suggest researching the person or people with whom you will be interviewing and finding something about them or what they do that genuinely interests or intrigues you, instead of trying to simply demonstrate that you looked them up. Additionally, people who give the impression that they are putting on a persona of who they think we want to hire won't interview well. We want to see the candidate’s true self and whether they are going to be a good fit with our culture. If you aren't being yourself, you end up doing yourself a disservice, as you'll end up in a place that won't be right for you.

CA: What are you looking for in a candidate? 

JA & JC: While there is no specific type of person, Weil is looking for candidates with good academic credentials, leadership and strong communication skills. Other key traits are enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity, pragmatism and sound judgment. We are a firm built by dynamic lawyers who are not afraid to forge their own paths – and we hope to find young lawyers who will see the world differently and are excited to 'think outside the box' and help the firm continue this strong tradition. We also view our value-add in the market to be our business acumen and ability to understand and advise our clients on business strategy – this is very exciting for young lawyers who want to see the business and market impact of the work they do and gain a 360-degree view into our clients’ business needs and strategy.

We don't expect you to know immediately how we run things here, nor exactly what you want to do. However, we do expect you to throw yourself in without any preconceived notions of how we operate or what the work is like; the lawyers with this approach are the ones who excel. These individuals become team members and work to promote the success of their teams quickly. No one is pigeonholed at Weil. It comes down to grit. We want people who will have passion and dedication to hone their craft and who will enjoy doing it.

CA: Can you briefly outline what's on offer in your summer program?

JA & JC: There's a lot that we offer. We strive to have a good balance of substantive work coupled with an exciting social element. We strive to make the work assigned to our summer associates as representative an experience to that of junior associates as possible. We understand summer associates are making decisions that may affect the course of their careers, and these are people with whom we will potentially be working, so we want to make it as realistic for them as we can.

With regard to the social component, we try to have our summer associates get to know as many people at the firm as possible. We understand our firm is a big place, so allowing our summer associates to meet and interact with a wide variety of individuals will provide them with a more accurate sense of our overall culture. We also try to foster an environment where it’s possible to get to know one another on a personal level and outside of the work context. We host a number of lunches, dinners and events after work. Some activities include attending a Broadway show together, going to a baseball game, or going to a firmwide charity event. These events are all really enjoyable and everyone has a great time. We believe people who work hard should be rewarded with great experiences.

What is unique about Weil is that we strive to give our summer associates direct partner contact. Partners are really proactive in getting to know summer associates. This is because, among other reasons, it helps professional development when a summer associate returns as a first-year associate to hit the ground running with partners that they already know.

We believe that when a summer associate joins Weil, they are part of the firm from day one. These early days can serve as a time to build your personal brand and reputation within the firm, and to develop relationships that will be beneficial down the line.

CA: How does Weil approach lateral hiring? 

JA & JC: Weil is engaged in a continuous search for the best talent, including associates who are considering a lateral move from another law firm. Our firm offers opportunities for lawyers looking for a career change and who have the requisite credentials. We also focus on recruiting candidates who have recently clerked or are currently clerking. We have a specific focus on those from the US Federal Courts and the Delaware Court of Chancery. Once on board, lateral associates can expect the same outstanding training and mentoring that all Weil associates receive.

CA: Finally, could you explain the bonus system in place at Weil?

JA & JC: We have historically based bonus awards on class year and market levels. We feel that this lockstep approach enhances camaraderie and decreases competitiveness among our associates. It takes away any anxiety that may come with feeling that you haven’t been assigned to the right matter that can allow you to bill more hours. It also promotes an even balance in the assignment system.

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: 9
  • Number of international offices: 11
  • Worldwide revenue: $1.164 billion
  • Partners (US): 294
  • Associates (US): 745
  • Summer Salary 2016 
  • 1Ls: $3,077/week
  • 2Ls: $3,077/week
  • Post 3Ls: $3,077/week
  • 1Ls hired? Case by case
  • Split summers offered? Case by case
  • Can summers spend time in overseas office? Case by case
  • Summer 2016: 97 (including 1Ls)
  • Offers/acceptances 2015: 78 offers, 67 acceptances (excluding 1LS)

Main areas of work
The firm offers legal counsel in more than two dozen practices 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 & Restructuring, and Tax, Executive Compensation & Benefits, and more than two dozen practice groups are consistently recognized as leaders in their respective fields. Talented attorneys who want to tackle complex, challenging matters on behalf of world-class companies will find ample opportunities to shine in our uniquely entrepreneurial culture. Please see www.weil.com for more information, including awards and rankings.

Recruitment details
• Number of 1st year associates: 83
• Number of 2nd year associates: 79
• Associate salaries: 1st year: $160,000
• 2nd year: $170,000
• Clerking policy: Yes

Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2016:
Weil has a diversified approach to its recruiting process. Firm-wide, Weil interviews at over 45 law schools and job fairs and participates in resume collection programs at over 10 other law schools. For a complete list, please visit www.weil.com/careers.

Summer details
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.