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 £145k?
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 satisfaction survey have been mixed, but the firm placed a very respectable 25th in the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2022. 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. 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.
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.
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.
Here's what staff had to say in the latest RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At survey:
"Pay is fantastical!", said a junior solicitor. "I really can't complain. It's an obscene amount. No idea if it's in line with what other people are getting but frankly, it's more than enough and I don't particularly care", said another. "Would be much better off at Akin or Kirkland", noted a lawyer, although, said a colleague, "Anyone who isn’t very satisfied needs to take a hard look at themselves in their solid gold mirror".
It "is professional and not insane/tyrannical", and although New York's "continual references to the 'Weil Family' are somewhat cloying", the team in London "does a pretty good job". They have been "surprisingly, and admirably, human in their approach to dealing with return to work", even if central management's views and priorities on other matters are "not always aligned with department heads".
As with many firms, it depends on the team, and the supervisor. "Luck of the draw - some partners are really interested, others don’t care", said a senior solicitor. "Clear favouritism from certain partners but that's the nature of this game", noted another. There is a pathway "but as ever there is limited transparency", and the amount of formal training varies "depending on what team you are in".
"Start before 8am and finish midnight at least pretty much every day. Working all weekend is the norm not the exception", said a junior solicitor. It's "very dependent on the team but nowhere near as bad as K&E", countered a senior solicitor. "I often manage to get through a weekend without having to open a laptop. It's mostly short emails that can be answered from a phone".
They "get their pound of flesh but, overall, it’s a fair exchange", said another. There were "Crazy hours over the course of the pandemic and there is an expectation that you are constantly available. But, I did sign up for this and, as my MC counterparts frequently remind me, at least I'll be on a big pay packet come qualification", said a trainee. A senior solicitor advised that it "Very much depends on group/partner (‘twas ever thus): many teams are always and consistently busy; others (like mine) are a bit more sane".
Weil "is remarkably nice for a US law firm", with a "Decent, sensible culture", said lawyers. It "Somehow mixes the muscle of a US firm with the slightly eccentricity of a much smaller English outfit. Very capable but doesn't crow about it", and "Everyone is really nice to work with, no arrogance despite he quality of the book", agreed colleagues.
Drama llamas may need to look elsewhere: "There has been nothing crazy going on, like that 'Tyrant' partner story at another US firm, but...dull is what I would say about the culture -neither here nor there", said a trainee, who did concede it could just be because people "are largely working remotely".