The Legal Cheek View
Weil Gotshal & Manges was set up in 1931 by a group of Jewish lawyers who were unable to find jobs in Depression-era New York at a time when anti-Semitism was rife. Through focusing on then unfashionable areas of finance, the firm grew rapidly during the 1980s as techniques that it had helped pioneer like the leveraged buyout went mainstream. These days, the elite megafirm’s speciality is private equity. And having put a turbulent few years behind it, this focus is clearly paying dividends with Weil’s global profit per equity partner up by 5% to close to £2 million last year.
The firm has a sizeable presence in the UK, taking on 12-15 trainees each year. In keeping with many US firms in London, Weil doesn’t hold these rookies’ hands too closely. Insiders report “hardly any formal training” with “mostly learning on the job which is probably better experience in the long-term, but in the short-term can you leave you feeling overwhelmed and unprepared”.
The work is variable, but verges a little too much on the grunt work side for some of Weil’s youngsters – who tend to join the firm with high expectations. Explains one: “Sometimes you're given secretarial tasks, except as a trainee you're just much slower. Equally, sometimes you're given really good interesting work.”
On the flipside, work/life balance is considerably better than at many rivals, with an average office departure time of 7:56pm – not bad considering that Weil newly qualified solicitors earn £115,000. But, be warned: “A lot is expected of you when deals are ongoing.”
The perks are basically the pay and the OK hours, although the office is rather nice – albeit off the pace in the standing desks craze sweeping City law firms. And the A-rated canteen apparently does an “incredible” breakfast that is “better than most brunch places in London”. The social life is slightly muted, though, with grumbles about a lack of funding for organised socials.
As for international secondments – the firm says that everyone who wants to go overseas largely gets to do so. But some locations are more in-demand than others, with the jackpot being New York.