From the wild Weil west to the Big Apple in the east, this global firm offers top-of-the-market bankruptcy, finance, and litigation work to its assiduous associates.
“We’re a top-performing firm and we clearly do cutting-edge legal work,” says executive partner Barry Wolf when we catch up with him to discuss Weil’s progress over the last year. It’s hard to argue with such a statement, as the firm’s status as a member of that prestigious crowd of New York global outfits is well and truly sealed. Bankruptcy/restructuring has long been Weil’s standout practice, but it’s also highly respected in the market for the extent of its private equity, corporate/M&A, banking & finance, technology, tax, and litigation expertise (as the firm’s raft of Chambers USA accolades attest to).
“I was told I would do substantial tasks and they’ve made good on that promise!”
“I always wanted to learn from the best and be challenged,” an associate commented, before explaining that Weil ticked those boxes for them when deciding which firm to join. Others noted that “bankruptcy is the firm’s bread and butter” and were excited by the prospect of joining a premier restructuring practice: “The matters aren’t staffed so heavily, so I was told I would do substantial tasks and they’ve made good on that promise!” For some, it was Weil’s general prestige that initially appealed, before they became hooked by the sense that “people seemed happier and more satisfied with their lives than those I spoke with at other firms.” Wolf tells us that “our culture is something we focus on and emphasize – it's about teamwork, collaboration, and sponsorship, and goes beyond just the legal work we do.”
The vast majority (75%) of the associates on our list were based in Weil’s New York HQ, while the DC and Silicon Valley bases took on the next largest cohorts of juniors. The rest were spread across Boston, Dallas, and Miami. Associates were split between four overarching departments: corporate represented the most (almost half), followed by litigation (roughly a third), restructuring, and tax, benefits, and executive compensation.
Strategy & Future
“Our strategy has been and continues to be one of balance, both in terms of geography and practice areas,” says executive partner Barry Wolf. “Regardless of whether it’s a stressed economic market or not, we want to make sure that the transactional, litigation, and restructuring parts of our business are extremely strong.” Wolf adds that there’s a greater need for balance because “the world is more interconnected than it ever has been before – something happening in one part of the world can impact another. The pandemic came out of nowhere and a strong economy suddenly collapsed, and our restructuring work came into high gear. Then the world opened up and our corporate work ramped up, so you really need to be flexible. Most people are in for difficult economic times in the first part of 2023, so litigation and restructuring will increase, but I think transactional work will pick up later in the year.”
Summer associates get the opportunity to rotate through multiple groups. After this, they rank their top three preferred practices for joining as a full-time associate; the firm then attempts to place incoming juniors into their top choices. Although this is set in stone to an extent, sources did tell us that they were informed there could be opportunities to switch groups further down the line. Some practice groups have assigning partners responsible for dishing out work, while others operate under a centralized work allocation system: “The system works well because it helps to minimize any ambiguity and the partners will keep on their radar what you’re interested in doing,” a litigator commented. A corporate junior added that “the assignment partners distribute the work evenly and manage the workflow – by the mid-point of your first year you know what you’re interested in more and they can work toward giving you those assignments.”
“...no one does just one kind of deal.”
Subgroups in corporate include banking & finance; private equity (PE); M&A; tech & IP transactions; capital markets; structured finance; and private funds. “I’ve worked with private equity firms all over the country,” a PE source told us. “The firm’s staffing model lends itself to that, as a New York staffing partner will reach out to associates in different locations.” A “true private equity deal involves a lot of diligence and administration work, but I feel like a midlevel associate in that I'm also negotiating documents and drafting ancillaries. When you’re not buying and selling companies, you’re negotiating NDAs for clients and handling the general administrative work for companies.” A couple of years in, this M&A associate was “helping to draft huge portions of the purchase agreements – no one does just one kind of deal and we have matters involving electric vehicles, SPAC structures, take-privates, and restructuring elements.” Banking and finance associates had also been on “a few restructurings in situations where acquisition financings have gone a little sideways. A lot of people in New York do lender-side work, while in offices like Dallas there’s more borrower-side matters. The deals are usually midsized, and there are a lot of leveraged buyouts!”
Corporate clients: Blackstone Energy Partners, Chevron, and MGM Resorts. Advised Maxim Integrated Products on its $27.5 billion sale to Analog Devices.
Over in litigation, subgroups include complex commercial; securities; employment; antitrust/competition; patent; product liability; and white-collar litigation. Antitrust work involves “a lot of merger control reviews, as well as international filings with the EU. You get to work across a range of industries and research the major players and trends within them. You might be preparing evidence outlines with the information you’ve gathered or preparing white papers on the larger matters.” For securities litigators, “there are a lot of class actions in the federal courts, and we sometimes also give advice to the corporate team before a merger completes. For those matters you’ll be conducting research, but on the big class actions you’re working with dozens of associates and will be doing more doc review.” Our patent litigators pointed out that “a lot of us have backgrounds in life sciences or medical engineering, as we do a lot of work in the medical device space. Our impact is national, sometimes international, and we’re currently looking to do more in the pharmaceutical drugs area. I haven’t done much doc review and have been able to draft discovery responses and prepare for depositions.”
“A lot of our work is coming out of Texas, as it’s a hot market for bankruptcy right now.”
Litigation clients: General Electric, Starbucks, and Alibaba. Currently representing General Electric during its disputes with Siemens and several of its subsidiaries relating to GE’s wind turbine technology.
Those within the restructuring department found there was “plenty to do” for newbies. “It can range anywhere from sitting in on a client meeting and taking notes with opposing counsel to drafting a motion, response, or an email to a client,” one junior told us, noting that partners make an effort to ask associates for their thoughts while sitting in on meetings. “A lot of our work is coming out of Texas, as it’s a hot market for bankruptcy right now, but we also do work in Delaware and New York for clients like airlines, pharma companies, and bitcoin entities,” another interviewee explained. Over time the work with certain partners tends to accumulate as “it’s very rare that you’re asked to something that’s a one-off!”
Restructuring clients: iFIT Health & Fitness, Phoenix Services, and Regis Corporation. Representing Talen Energy Supply and some of its debtor affiliates during their Chapter 11 cases.
Across the practices associates noted that they’d had “quite a few training sessions,” with litigators citing “an intense writing seminar” when they first started, as well as deposition trainings in the spring. Formal sessions also take the shape of professional development workshops: “We’ve had three already that were just for juniors – they brought in career coaches who spoke with us about the qualities that make a great junior associate and how to start business development.” Sources also reported that the firm emphasizes the importance of informal mentoring, which is heightened by working in the office. One insider did reflect that the impact of this can vary depending on what proportion of your work is conducted with other offices, but others noted that being proactive in the pursuit of contact can go a long way. “There’s always some kind of training opportunity you can take advantage of,” a source concluded. “They’re often led by partners, who walk you through things and provide you with some facetime as well.”
“It’s good to be under someone’s wing.”
If associates decide to move on from the firm they tend to do so at the midlevel point: “Around year five or six people may move to government positions within the Trade Commission, or they might go to the DOJ or in-house.” Those who stay on sometimes pursue the partnership track, which was described as “a bit of a black box” process: “You need to be proactive and ask a bit more about it. It’s good to be under someone’s wing and that’s how some people have done it. I think it’s now seven years to promotion to counsel or partner, but it is usually to counsel.”
Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: no requirement
Weil associates don’t have a set billable hour target, which “is designed to minimize the pressure.” One junior did feel that “you’re not always sure if you’re on track or not,” but most of the associates we spoke with told us they were satisfied with the system. In some practices (especially transactional ones) the workload can fluctuate throughout the year, so it can be normal to “worry that you don’t have enough hours and then suddenly become very busy again!” Praise was given to the firm for trying to ensure that workloads were balanced though: “If I raise my hand because I’m stressed, they’ll add an associate to lighten the load.”
“My partners encouraged me to take vacation.”
“There are definitely late nights and long days, but it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it might be,” a source told us, echoing the thoughts of many others. Litigators were the happiest with their lot on the hours front, with one telling us that they “took a week off and was only pinged once,” and another explaining that they “don’t really work at the weekends, and I typically finish by 6pm.” That doesn’t mean that associates won’t log on back at home in the evening, however. Another junior added: “My partners encouraged me to take vacation – if you don’t do that and work 24/7 you will burnout fast.” On the subject of compensation, there were certainly no complaints, as it’s “market rate – pretty standard really!” (by BigLaw standards, of course).
Associates are required to do at least 50 hours of pro bono a year: "I’ve exceeded that!” a source enthused. Across the board juniors were positive about Weil’s commitment to pro bono and said that there were no strict limits on how much they could do in a year. “There’s always lots floating around, the matters are fun, and there’s a large variety!” a junior summarized. We did hear about the firm’s strong partnership with the Innocence Project, which is devoted to helping secure the release of those wrongfully convicted of crimes.
“...it's been the most rewarding work and the clients are really thankful.”
Beyond this, “there are so many” opportunities: “We get emails about pro bono for international law cases, consumer bankruptcy matters, criminal convictions and appeals, work for the American Red Cross – it is really encouraging.” Juniors do get to take charge on matters: “You’re doing literally everything, as it’s often just you or you and an associate or partner.” One associate was happy to report that they’d “gotten more involved this year – it's been the most rewarding work and the clients are really thankful.”
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 67,656
- Average per US attorney: 80
“Of course, it’s busy,” one associate quipped – a staple characteristic of BigLaw life – “but for the most part people have been very supportive.” Insiders pointed to their peers as useful sources of guidance and knowledge: “Juniors generally help each other with questions,” but “there are also people who will look out for you at the more senior levels as well.” Ultimately, “it is a stressful job and people have a lot on their plate,” so there can be a level of intensity to adapt to, but “there’s a lot of coordination and it is a super collaborative environment,” sources confirmed.
“It’s so corny to say this, but it’s Avengers-like!”
Practices and offices work together “all of the time – you constantly need input and it’s so cool to see the strength and the brilliance of your colleagues. We have a lot of respect for the groups’ specialisms, and it’s so corny to say this, but it’s Avengers-like!” Associates noted that the boundaries between the New York and DC offices in particular were “very fluid,” though there were still distinguishing cultural factors between the two locations. “Everyone is expected to wear a suit” in the New York office as “it’s a lot more corporate, while in DC people tend to know each other better on a more personal level.” The more “buttoned-up” nature of the New York office was flagged by associates we spoke with in other locations – like Dallas – where “there’s a bit more of that Southern hospitality.”
“The firm does seem to encourage the social side,” we heard, particularly over the summer. At the time of our calls, Weil – like many firms – was still ramping up its events schedule in this new hybrid-working world, but sources told us that they’d had opportunities to attend retreats and get togethers via their practice groups and affinity groups they were part of. Most groups host occasional happy hours, but the IP litigators in particular seemed a fun bunch and highlighted a mix of holiday parties, dinners and karaoke nights. The private equity folks “do a pretty good job of keeping the group integrated nationally,” and the M&A lawyers are “pretty social – every other Wednesday we have wine and pizza at 6pm. We’ve also had three or four happy hours in the past year, and the partners like to stay out and have a good time too!”
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
“They’ve really been making an effort,” an associate told us, particularly when it comes to boosting the representation of women attorneys. Since 2015, the number of women partners across the firm has increased from a fifth to almost a third of the total partnership “Women partners really devote time to mentoring juniors,” another source commented, highlighting that these efforts would help to prepare the next generation of female partners to rise through the ranks.
“I appreciated the boldness, and it drew me to the firm.”
A few associates did note that there was work to be done with retaining racially and ethnically diverse associates. “They do host lots of events, so the effort is there,” a junior remarked. “Barry Wolf took all the Black associates to lunch: he’s definitely looking to level the playing field and doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable conversations. At some point Weil put out a post that was titled ‘Meet our Black Partners’ – I appreciated the boldness, and it drew me to the firm.” Weil’s affinity group (called BLAST – Black Lawyers Achieving Success Together) was said to help in creating an inclusive space for Black associates, and the firm also has groups for other minorities including: AsianAttorneys@Weil; WeilLatinx; WeilPride; and Women@Weil.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: undisclosed
Interviewees outside OCI: undisclosed
Weil interviews at a myriad of law schools and job fairs, and participates in resume collection programs at many additional law schools throughout the U.S. and Canada. Initial screening interviews are conducted by members of the firm’s ‘hiring committee’ or an alum of the particular law school. “We’re looking to get to know the candidate and ascertain whether they have 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.
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, candidate you’ll do great. If you’re prepared and 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.
Our hiring source tells us that Weil’s summer program “is a great 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.” Weil provides numerous opportunities to explore the firm’s culture through day-to-day interactions, casual lunches/dinners and planned social activities. There are shadowing engagements as well, where the summer is assigned to a partner 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.
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,
Main areas of work
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.
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).
Linkedin: Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2023
- Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 4)
- Life Sciences (Band 4)
- Litigation: General Commercial: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 3)
- Technology: Transactions (Band 3)
California: San Francisco, Silicon Valley & Surro
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 3)
District of Columbia
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Environment: Mainly Transactional (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 4)
- 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 2)
- Intellectual Property: Patent (Band 5)
- 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 2)
- Media & Entertainment: Litigation (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Buyouts (Band 2)
- Real Estate: Mainly Corporate & Finance (Band 3)
- Real Estate: Mainly Dirt (Band 5)
- Tax (Band 2)
- Technology (Band 1)
- Banking & Finance (Band 5)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: The Elite (Band 3)
USA - Nationwide
- Advertising: Litigation (Band 3)
- Antitrust (Band 2)
- Antitrust: Cartel (Band 3)
- Appellate Law (Band 4)
- Banking & Finance (Band 2)
- Bankruptcy/Restructuring: The Elite (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Equity: Issuer Counsel (Band 3)
- Capital Markets: High-Yield Debt (Band 4)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: ABS (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Securitization: CLOs (Band 3)
- Corporate Crime & Investigations: Highly Regarded (Band 2)
- 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)
- Real Estate (Band 5)
- REITs (Band 5)
- Securities: Litigation (Band 3)
- Securities: Regulation: Advisory (Band 1)
- SPACs (Band 2)
- Sports Law (Band 4)
- Tax: Corporate & Finance (Band 2)
- Technology (Band 3)