Weil Gotshal & Manges’ private equity-focused London office has enjoyed a bumper 12 months, with revenue up nearly 33%, bouncing back from a tricky previous year marred by Brexit uncertainty and a poor 2017 trainee retention rate.
Morale is clearly rising again, with the firm’s grades in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2018-19 improving markedly on last year’s very disappointing showing. Still, there is clearly room for further improvement.
As with many US firms in London, the training is “more hands on than formal” and relies on supervising partners and senior associates to make it work. Weil trainees tell us that “some are good, others far less so”. Associates and partners in some departments “are very approachable”, but other departments are “run on fear where the partners almost take pleasure in your misery and where some people will snap at you for asking questions and tell you to ‘figure it out yourself’ when you have already tried to.” Fortunately, fellow trainees are said to be pretty supportive of each other, even if the out of office social scene is rather muted.
Quality of work is similarly variable. There is a perception among some trainees that Weil requires its rookies to do more grunt work than magic circle firms, whose recent embrace of innovative technology has, they believe, lessened such tasks. Weil apparently doesn’t have the best IT, with regular “server issues”. But it’s worth noting that a common complaint among the magic circle trainees we surveyed was that they still faced a lot of admin tasks. This comment from a Weil insider seems to sum up the reality: “[Work] can be good, can be laughably mundane, but I imagine that will always be the case regardless of which firm you work at.”
The hours here are some of the longest in the City. According to this year’s Legal Cheek figures, the average arrival in the office time is 9:07am and the average leave time 9:22pm. “Not good at all” is how one insider describes the 12 hour days, but another thinks the hours “could be worse”. And indeed at some rival firms they are. The flipside is that Weil’s newly qualified solicitor salary is a whopping £120,000. Other perks alongside the pay include free entry for a number of London art galleries and museums. “I skip all the queues at the Royal Academy and V&A,” a Weil rookie reports.
Another plus is the firm’s “super slick” London office. It’s a “clean, functional and well lit space” and “some trainees even get standing desks!” The firm canteen is also praised, with “very good” food and “a number of healthy options available on a daily basis”.
With profit per equity partner at Weil reaching $3.64 million (£2.82 million) this year – a rise of nearly 18% that follows a 22% rise the year previously — the firm is clearly doing very well. If some of that positivity could be translated into a happier vibe it might do even better.