Weil, Gotshal & Manges is, along with Shearman and Sterling, probably the most anglicised of the US firms over here - and so probably the most likely to be here for the long haul. Insiders report that the hours are long, but no worse than at other big name City practices and generally not at the absurd levels sometimes rumoured to be found at smaller US offices over here. You're going to be part of a global network of 1,300, but don't be worried about stetsons and six shooters - almost everyone in London is UK-qualified.
The firm's been here a long time. 2016 was the twentieth anniversary of the firm's London office, which makes it a pretty well-established brand in the Great Wen. With around 110 fee-earners, 28 partners, and 23 trainees over here it's one of the biggest US offices in the City, and the work is as high profile as anywhere. The first decade or so was pretty smooth running, with the firm getting its hands filthy in the private equity world (aided by the hire of PE star Marco Compagnoni).
Bonuses for US associates are generally top of the tree and London salaries are the typical stellar rates: how many NQs are going to grumble at £130k?
Although expect to work for it. Associate complaints include: "hour for hour I'd probably earn more working in an Asian sweatshop" and "I work so hard that I once called my other half my boss' name."
The practice is concentrated on profitable corporate and finance work, so if property or litigation is your thing you'll need to look elsewhere. Bear in mind that however committed it is to the UK, decisions affecting your future are still made by partners thousands of miles away (one associate suggested that "the New York office is very domineering").
So what do the workers think? Responses to our Firm of the Year survey have been mixed. There was praise for "exceptionally talented lawyers", "excellent salaries", "no billable targets" and "great views" from the Fetter Lane offices. But the main thing propping up the positive comments box is "the pay", though you can expect to be "made up to partner in the London office which is rare for a US firm" according to one insider. But criticisms included a lack of work life balance: "I'm expected to answer my work Blackberry when it rings in the middle of the night" grumbled one lawyer.
Still, the firm is very keen to stress that it is in London to stay. The fact that London is its fastest growing office (and the largest after New York), and that the office has generated significant profits for the last few years would also seem to support this. So if hard-core corporate work is your bag, and you're prepared to work long hours, the combination of cash and clients make for a good deal. Plus, as one assistant comments, you get the benefit of "working for a firm with the same name as an infection spread by rats". Which is nice.
The firm performed very well in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2020 survey.
"The money is great. It's what stops me leaving", said one senior lawyer, while another said his salary was "like winning the lottery every month". Another said pay was "not the best in the market" because it wasn't pegged to New York "as per peer firms", but he believed that "culture at the firm makes up for it".
As for the office and amenities, it's "like working in a hotel - if anyone complains in this section they need to remove the silver spoon from their backside (and should leave)", said an employee.
Management “are generally extremely friendly, approachable, impressive in their own right and supportive”, although there "must have been brain aneurysms that have been less painful than the new partner/counsel process".
For a US firm, Weil achieved a pretty decent score for work/life balance in the 2020 survey (68%). A junior lawyer said that hours "are extremely reasonable for US pay, and partners are very supportive of limiting avoidable time in the office." Another junior lawyer said "Let's be clear: for the money, they get their pound of flesh. But, it's nowhere near as painful as life at similar firms".