Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The US culture (small trainee intake and specialised) but not unhinged, sincere D&I and pro bono commitments, great office, intelligent lawyers, fantastic pay’, ‘prestige and pay’, ‘its strength in both private equity and restructuring, small trainee intake and the emphasis on pro bono and volunteering’, ‘the high-quality work on offer’, ‘remuneration, friendliness, impressive practice group partners’, ‘the private equity focus’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Approachable staff’, ‘being treated like an adult’, ‘the responsibility and the people’, ‘the highly-intelligent and generally very friendly people’, ‘top-quality work, supportive lawyers, compensation’, ‘the on-the-job learning’, ‘that the work opportunities are there if you want them’, ‘we get access to high-quality, advanced work from an early stage and are trusted to get on with it’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The variation in culture between departments’, ‘the lack of variety in practice areas’, ‘the training is not always great’, ‘some departments have a worse work/life balance than others’, ‘the hours in certain seats, combined with expectations of certain partners. It is an available 24-hour/365 culture’, ‘it could be more generous, with perks for example’, ‘some teams are less social’

Best moment? ‘Getting good feedback in my end of seat appraisal’, ‘meeting clients’, ‘getting to work on a signing and closing and being in charge of transaction management aspect of the deal’, ‘closing some big deals’, ‘client dinners and the feeling of satisfaction at understanding and successfully delivering a task’

Worst moment? ‘Not knowing who to ask when I had a question’, ‘sending original title documents to the wrong location’, ‘some of the tasks can be repetitive or can come in at awkward times of the day’, ‘stress (largely internal) if mistakes are made’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP

‘Exposure to top-tier global clients and challenging work’ were the main reasons trainees applied to Weil Gotshal & Manges. The US firm boasts  particular strength in its ‘transactional practices, including private equity, banking and finance, and restructuring’. A smaller trainee intake ‘provides more opportunities for us to take on more responsibility and higher-level work’. Weil recruits ‘get the opportunity to do more advanced work, for example take charge of some post-completion matters and draft documents’; ‘the general approach appears to be focused on giving responsibility if you can handle it and want it’, explained one trainee. Recruits also ‘receive far more client contact’ than at some firms of a comparable size and stature. The ‘fantastic salary’ can’t go unmentioned, Weil being one of the top-paying firms in the City for trainees and beyond. As such, the firm is a Future Lawyers Winner for salary, as well as for confidence of being kept on. There is a ‘general lack of toxic atmosphere’ at Weil, and colleagues are ‘friendly and willing to help you advance your education and expand your knowledge’. The firm’s downside is unarguably ‘the hours in certain seats’ and ‘expectations of certain partners. It is an available 24-hour/365 culture’. Nevertheless, trainees did say that ‘some departments have a worse work/life balance than others’. Other criticisms were that ‘some of the tasks can be repetitive and can come in at awkward times of the day’. In contrast, ‘closing a c. 400m USD transaction with one other lawyer, a senior partner at the firm’ was ‘a ridiculously cool opportunity and level of responsibility for a trainee’.  For a firm which is considered top of its game in private equity, where lawyers hit the ground running and are paid handsomely for their work, consider Weil Gotshal & Manges.

A day in the life of... Mahereen Nawaz, trainee, Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP

Mahereen Nawaz, Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP

Departments to date: Banking and finance; Private equity infrastructure

University: London School of Economics

Degree: Law

Morning: I arrive at the office around 8.30am and first sort any emails that have come through overnight as well as check my calendar for the day. I then review my to-do list, ensuring it is updated with any additional tasks.

Once I have prepared a cup of coffee, I attend the internal private equity infrastructure team meeting, which takes place every Tuesday morning at 9.00 am – the team meeting is a great way to learn about the current matters the team is working on and also any deals in the pipeline. It also provides the opportunity to have an informal catch-up with colleagues, which is always enjoyable.

I return to my office and begin the first task of my day, drafting some corporate authorisations for a Tier 2 Management Incentive Plan. This is in relation to a motorway services group, which our client acquired earlier in March. Sharing an office with my supervisor, who is also working on the matter, means that I can often turn to him with any questions I have.

Once I have finished drafting the authorisations, I accordingly update the deal documents list to include the status of the relevant documents, which I have now drafted, as well as updating the list with any additional changes. It is a key trainee role to be able to stay on top of the progress of different work streams within a deal and to keep an updated documents list at all times.

Afternoon: At 1.00pm, I head to Café 110, our office cafeteria and join fellow trainees for lunch. This is a great time to catch up and also learn about what the other departments within the firm are working on.

Following lunch, I am briefed on a new matter relating to the refinancing of a group of entities, for which we are undertaking a red flags only due diligence exercise. This is an interesting task as I am responsible for completing the corporate due diligence and flagging any issues in the constitutional documents and statutory registers from a lender perspective. Once I have discussed my findings with the associate on the matter, I draft the relevant section within the due diligence report to set out my findings.

I temporarily pause my work to attend a training session on equity term sheets. Training is a key part of trainee life at Weil, and each practice area has their own schedule for training, both specifically for trainees and also practice area-wide, which trainees are expected to attend. I also try to attend training targeted at associates to enhance my understanding of the practice area and the key work streams involved.

Evening: I have signed up to attend an event internally, hosted by the partners within the Women@Weil committee. The aim of the event is to discuss career development and also to discuss key topics, including current and planned Weil initiatives and practical business development tips. I find events hosted internally are a great way to discuss fundamental topics with colleagues and also to meet different people around the firm.

I return to my office and check through my emails to see if any tasks have come through while I have been away from my desk. One of the deals that I am working on involves liaising with our Jersey counsel for matters in respect of the Jersey-incorporated Topco entity in the acquisition stack. I need to get a copy of the updated Topco statutory registers following completion of the acquisition to ensure the relevant updates have been made – I send an email reminder to them of this. It is a key trainee task to keep track of any post-completion work to be actioned, and to liaise accordingly with different parties and counsel to ensure that matters are progressed.

I then update my daily to-do list accordingly and head home for the evening.

About the firm

Managing partner: Michael Francies

UK offices: London

Other offices: 15 – Beijing, Boston, Brussels, Dallas, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Houston, Miami, Munich, New York, Paris, Princeton, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C.

Who we are: With approximately 1,100 lawyers across the US, Europe and Asia, Weil operates according to the ‘one firm’ principle, allowing it to bring the right mix of firm-wide skill and local market presence to deliver co-ordinated legal advice to help its clients achieve their sophisticated goals and objectives.

Established in 1996, Weil’s London office is the largest of its European offices and the hub of its European practice. The office is a leading player in the UK legal market and is consistently regarded as one of the most successful London offices of a US-based law firm. The firm supports a varied client base of European, US and global private equity houses, corporates and financial institutions on domestic and cross-border matters.

Weil’s strategy is focused on long-term investment in recruiting and retaining exceptional talent at all levels. The firm’s people celebrate diversity and inclusion, and its award-winning pro bono programme is deeply ingrained in the firm’s culture.

What we do: Weil provides clients with legal expertise at the highest level across its key practices of private equity and M&A, funds, finance, structured finance, restructuring, and disputes and investigations, and has been involved in some of the most significant, high-profile and prestigious mandates across all its legal specialisms. The majority of the firm’s work involves multidisciplinary teams across the specialist fields of competition, corporate governance and compliance, employment, intellectual property, management incentives, pensions, real estate, tax, and technology, leveraging the expertise of its full-service capabilities for its clients.

Vacation schemes 2024: A vacation scheme is a great way to experience first-hand what life is like as a Weil trainee. You will work alongside associates, carrying out real trainee tasks and responsibilities while gaining a greater insight into one of the firm’s practice areas. You will be mentored and supported throughout the scheme, and to help you get even more of an insight into life at Weil there will be various talks and workshops. We also organise a number of social events, so you can get to know Weil’s lawyers and staff in a more relaxed setting. You can apply for a vacation scheme if you are a penultimate-year student, finalist or graduate from any degree discipline. You will be paid £750 per week, plus a contribution towards accommodation costs will be made to those living outside London, in addition to travel expenses being reimbursed.

Insight days: Meet our people and get a better understanding of our firm and culture. During an insight day you will hear from our partners, associates and trainees about life at Weil. You can apply for an insight day if you are a second-year student, penultimate-year student, finalist or graduate from any degree discipline. Travel costs will be reimbursed.

Dates: 18 October 2023 (apply by 8 October 2023); 15 November 2023 (apply by 6 November 2023).

Virtual experience programme: Gain hands-on experience of the typical tasks a trainee would get involved in while working in our private equity, finance and restructuring teams. The virtual experience programme is self-paced and open to everyone. No application is required.

Virtual and in-person events: At our events, in addition to developing your commercial awareness, you will have the chance to meet our people, build your network and discover our culture, as well as ask any questions you have about the application process. Visit our website for a list of upcoming events.

Apprenticeships: Our six-year solicitor apprenticeship programme is a new opportunity for ambitious and driven school leavers to start an exciting career in law. You don’t need to have a degree in order to pursue this opportunity, however this alternative route ensures you can obtain a degree upon programme completion, earn money while you learn, and have no student debt, all by studying for just one day per week.

This is your chance to learn what it’s like to be in the spotlight at an elite global law firm as you learn your craft.

Over six years, you’ll rotate through a range of practice groups and experience every side of a global law firm. This programme has been specifically developed to help you learn the core technical and professional skills you’ll need to thrive in a continually evolving legal industry. You’ll work on real deals, receiving regular and tailored feedback from supervisors, mentors and current trainee solicitors. Your time will be split with four days a week in the office learning on the job and one day a week protected for study so you can build your technical knowledge and prepare for exams. Once your six years are complete, you’ll be eligible to qualify as a solicitor.

Applications close on 7 January 2024 to start in September 2024.

What we’re looking for: A career at Weil is challenging, technical and requires trainees to work under pressure. With this in mind, we are looking for bright candidates who can use their initiative, are comfortable in the spotlight, and who thrive when challenged and placed out of their comfort zone. Successful candidates will need to be business-minded with plenty of entrepreneurial flair and commercial acumen, as well as the ability to work effectively in a team. We are looking to recruit candidates from all universities and degree disciplines. Our academic requirements are AAB at A-Level or equivalent and a 2.1 degree (obtained or predicted). We review all application forms holistically, which means if you fall slightly short of our academic requirements but demonstrate great potential, you will still be considered.

What you’ll do: From September 2023, all our future training contract offer holders will need to complete the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) before embarking on their two-year qualifying work experience (QWE) at Weil. We have partnered with University of Law to ensure our trainees are put through a rigorous and comprehensive programme, preparing you for success. The SQE will equip you with the confidence and skills needed to start your training contract at Weil. This is an 11-month programme, which will include the SQE 1 and 2, as well as an additional bespoke ‘Plus Programme’, designed specifically to give you the knowledge and skills to succeed in your QWE.

Weil’s training contract is designed to help you reach your potential as quickly as possible through constant exposure to high-calibre work. We take an open and transparent approach to progression with a structure that makes sure you get the best start to your legal career. As a trainee you will work on some of the most complex and sophisticated matters. The work will be varied, exciting and from the very start, you will be in the spotlight – tackling the problems our clients face.

During your training contract, you will complete four six-month seats, one of which will be in corporate and one in finance. In each of your four seats, you will share an office with your supervisor, which means you will always have someone to guide you in your day-to-day work. The mentoring and support you receive as a Weil trainee mean you can progress and reach your goals sooner than most law firms. You will be allocated a partner mentor, who will be your go-to for advice and guidance throughout the full two years of your training.

Perks: In addition to a £500 wellbeing allowance, the firm offers a flexible benefits package which you can tailor to your individual needs.

Sponsorship: We offer full sponsorship of the PGDL and SQE 1 and 2 in addition to an annual maintenance grant of £20,000 per year of study.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Diversity, equity and inclusion are more than just words. They embody a commitment that has been at our core since the firm was founded. We strive to honour this commitment and create a culture where our differences are respected, celebrated and valued.