If private equity is your passion, Weil’s Gotsha.
Weil training contract review 2024
“I didn’t come out of the womb wanting to be a private equity lawyer,” confessed one trainee. We can’t say we’re surprised, but if private equity does call your name, Weil must be a consideration. This American native sits in the top bracket in Chambers UK for its private equity work, and trainees confirmed that “private equity is the bread and butter of the firm.” However, Weil isn’t a one-practice pony. Weil is also recognised in our sister guide for its infrastructure and private equity investment funds work, while in London the firm gets a tip of the hat for banking & finance work – both lender and sponsor side – capital markets work (including CLOs, high-yield products and securitisations) and restructuring, tax, and M&A work above £800 million.
“You learn quickly, and there’s an element of trust, which I like.”
For trainees, Weil’s obvious expertise in private equity and related transactional practices was a major drawcard, as was the fact that “it’s part of the New York elite.” Trainees also liked the size of the trainee intakeof around 15 a year. “It’s not too big, but not so small that you can’t socialise. The atmosphere here is you get to know people and people will ask about your weekend.” Sources were also drawn to the resultant level of responsibility they were offered: “There aren’t many of us, so they actually need us to do the work.” What’s that like? “You learn quickly,” they laughed, “and there’s an element of trust, which I like.”
Trainees do four six-month seats and are expected to complete seats in corporate and finance, along with either a contentious seat or a litigation course to fulfil SRA requirements. Corporate can be satisfied by “private equity and M&A, which is one seat; private equity infrastructure, or restructuring,” sources explained. Finance can be fulfilled with a stint in banking; private equity infrastructure finance; and structured finance. The contentious requirement can be met by a seat in disputes and investigations, restructuring and antitrust. In addition to a range of UK-based seats, Weil have reintroduced their COVID-suspended international secondments, offering four seats in New York and one in Washington DC, as well as opportunities to go to Paris. The focus of each secondment depends on the trainee's interest and business need. For each rotation, trainees submit their top three choices six to eight weeks before the rotation and “HR usually gets back to you fairly quickly.” However, sources weren’t thrilled with the lack of transparency. “I don’t know how the process works,” was a common refrain.
“Once they figured out I was competent, they were very happy to let me have a go.”
While not compulsory, trainees estimated “90% of the cohort does a private equity seat.” And? “It was great!” raved one. Those we spoke to mentioned being “staffed on big transactions,” and Weil certainly has a few of those. For example, the firm advised PE investor Advent International on its £5 billion acquisition of Maxar Technologies, an NYSE-listed provider of geospatial intelligence and space solutions. Sounds complicated. Other high-profile clients include Blackstone, Apollo and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
Trainees did a range of tasks, from due diligence to checklist management. The latter involves “ensuring things are progressing and inputting comments.” Trainees also liaised with specialist teams like IP, real estate, tax, and employment, and “incorporated their advice in the DD report.” However, it wasn’t all admin. Rookies also got to take a crack at drafting ancillary agreements. “Once they figured out I was competent, they were very happy to let me have a go,” an insider explained.
Private equity infrastructure was similar to private equity and M&A, sources said. “The difference is that our clients are buying infrastructure assets.” In one case, Weil advised mid-market infrastructure manager InfraBridge on its investment to build a platform to own and manage long-term leases of mobile telecom sites. Other names on the client roster include Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners and Macquarie Asset Management, a subsidiary of Australian financial services group Macquarie Group.
Trainees who had sat on the infrastructure side mentioned “updating doc lists, putting together bibles, drafting ancillaries, talking to trustees, and talking to local counsel.” The latter concerns reaching out to lawyers in other jurisdictions to make note of the differences in law. “You need to input all of that stuff,” sources explained. Trainees advised that “it’s important to balance your time.” Sometimes you’re faced with an “X has given me this, Y has given me this, which is more important?” situation. In those cases, sources told us, “everyone was friendly and willing to help.”
“Everything was multi-jurisdictional.”
Alongside private equity, banking was another common seat: “The team has a reputation for being really fun!” sources explained. “The partners are very friendly, and there are a lot of trainees in the department.” With a global market slowdown, sources said they were “pretty quiet.” That said, our interviewees kept themselves busy by running checklists, helping with ancillaries and generally pushing the process along. As with private equity, banking newbies spent a lot of time managing local counsel: “Everything was multi-jurisdictional.” On the lender side, Weil advised the lenders (managed by Goldman Sachs) on the recapitalisation of Soho House. All the big players appear on the books, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and BlackRock. On the borrower side, Weil regularly works with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (one of the largest pension plans in the world) on matters like the financing of its acquisition of Logoplaste, a Portuguese plastic packaging manufacturer.
Weil’s growing antitrust practice primarily provides support for its private equity clients, but has drawn in some high-profile work of its own; one of the group’s biggest deals this year was the representation of Microsoft on its $69 billion acquisition of American videogame company Activision Blizzard. The transaction was reviewed in several jurisdictions, including (deep breath) the EU, Brazil, Canada, the UK, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Chile, South Africa, Turkey, Serbia, and Saudi Arabia. More generally, trainees do the required filings and “respond to requests for information.” Antitrust, trainees felt, was “less administrative, more meaty,” and provided “much more client contact.” Trainees also mentioned “doing a bit of research, and putting information together,” adding: “Once you’ve demonstrated you’re capable of doing the work, you’re given the opportunity to run with things.”
Weil exciting work and early responsibility are common at US firms, long hours are also par for the course: “There are big peaks and troughs. The worst case scenario is 1, 2 or 3am finishes every day for a week. But I’ve also had weeks where I left the office at 5pm every day.” According to our trainee survey, the average hours came in just below market, though that’s caveated with a generally slow market. Last year’s survey, however, showed Weil’s hours were above 50 hours a week. We also heard of “an expectation to be available whenever,” but trainees felt “the salary makes it worthwhile. Maybe not at trainee level, but at qualification level definitely.”
More generally, sources said “there’s a good culture at the junior end. We have a strong network of people who want to help each other and are friends with each other.” And firm-wide? “I think everyone is passionate about what they do. Across all teams, they really care that they’re the best.” But, we heard, “I struggle to think of a ‘Weil culture’, there’s an ‘individual teams at Weil’ culture.” Banking, for example, “does loads of social activities,” like hiring out a hotel’s bowling alley. Private equity, on the other hand, was less social. “Everyone’s really driven. There’s definitely a culture of working very, very hard there.” But that wasn’t a deterrent: “You get swept up in it. I want to qualify there. Everyone knows they’re the big cheese, the star of the show.”
“I struggle to think of a ‘Weil culture’, there’s an ‘individual teams at Weil culture’.”
On the D&I side, our sources said, “There’s work to be done,” but “it’s getting better.” The firm is holding more external and internal events, like a Black History Month celebration and a few things for International Women’s Day. Sources also mentioned the firm runs a CV-blind recruitment process and has several affinity networks, “which are all quite active. There’s a real push to recruit diverse students.” Examples of affinity groups include BLAST (Black Lawyers Achieving Success Together), the disability network group, and the Women@Weil affinity group. Another area that trainees felt could use work was the training, which was described “a bit haphazard" – although that's pretty common at US firms in London, where on-the-job training is favoured over formalised programmes. Sources felt it would be better to have training at the start of seats rather than during the seat, where training sessions competed with the need to do work.
One area that received a unanimous thumbs up was pro bono – “it’sgreat!” raved one. “Everyone is encouraged to do 50 hours and there's an annual awards ceremony to celebrate those who hit it. We get sent opportunities every week; there’s a huge variety.” Interviewees mentioned work with the Micro Rainbow Foundation and the Innocence Project. For associates, all pro bono hours are billable.
Stay for a Weil: The qualification process kicks off two months before the end of the training contract. In 2023, Weil retained all 14 qualifiers.
How to get a Weil training contract
- Vacation scheme deadline (2024): 20 December 2023 (opens 18 September 2023)
- Training contract deadline (2025/2026): 31 July 2024 (opens 1 June 2024)
Applications and interviews
Weil’s graduate recruitment team organise various skills sessions, workshops, partner-led presentations and insight days throughout the year – check Weil's events calendar for details.
Students interested in a training contract with Weil can apply for a vacation scheme or directly for a training contract.
Applications for vacation schemes and training contracts are made via an online application form. All applications are reviewed by Weil’s graduate recruitment team and there are no pre-screening filters. The best of the bunch progress to the next stage, where candidates are invited to submit an online video interview.
Those who have impressed are offered a first-round interview with an associate and a member of the graduate recruitment team, and asked to complete a written exercise. They will also have the opportunity to meet with a trainee after the interview to ask questions in a one-to-one setting. The interview is geared towards finding out more about a candidate's journey, motivations and career aspirations, but you will also be assessed on your commercial awareness.
Graduate recruitment and development manager Philippa Wilson tells us successful candidates are the ones who demonstrate “a keen interest in Weil. If you are able to discuss our practice areas and understand our market position it shows you have a genuine interest to work for the firm.” Following the assessment process, successful applicants are then made a vacation scheme offer. For candidates applying directly for a training contract, there is a second-round interview with two partners before offers are made.
Weil runs two vacation schemes over the spring and summer holidays, each scheme is two-weeks long and participants are paid £750 per week. There are 30 places available across the two schemes. Participants spend two weeks in one practice area and you are able to submit preferences in advance. Throughout the scheme you will work alongside associates, carrying out trainee tasks and responsibilities. Participants are required to complete assessments during the scheme, including a group negotiation exercise and a group pitch presentation, and you are invited to attend an interview with two partners.
According to Philippa Wilson, “those who perform really well are the ones who are team players, proactive, show enthusiasm for the work, and really demonstrate their potential throughout the scheme. The vacation scheme is aimed to mirror the work you would undertake during a training contract, therefore it gives participants a real opportunity to gain an insight into the role of a trainee at Weil." Ping-pong tournaments, crazy golf, rooftop drinks and dinner in private dining rooms have featured in previous vacation schemes; it’s a great way to network with people from across the firm. Participants are also invited to informal drinks on the firm’s office roof terrace with the graduate recruitment team, partners, associates and trainees on their last day.
Supervision and the social life at Weil
Juniors frequently commended their supervisors, “who have been so helpful.” Naturally, though, approaches differ: “Some supervisors are more committed to being supervisors than others. Some really commit with invaluable feedback, but others see it as a tick-box formality.” That said, trainees praised the informal modes of support that are available too. “The culture of the firm helps establish this,” said one source. “I learn by practising and that’s universal here – we learn by doing.”
On the note of socialising, “it’s social when you’re in the firm, but there’s no real emphasis on hanging out outside of work. People would much rather go home after long days!” And while it’s “not a party firm,” juniors spoke warmly of team-specific events and an “incredible Christmas party with everyone from the firm.”
Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP
110 Fetter Lane,
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.
Main areas of work
Diversity & Inclusion
The training contract
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 means 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.
Vacation schemes 2024
Spring vacation scheme
Summer vacation scheme
Insight days (in person)
15 November 2023 (deadline 6 November)
Virtual experience programme
Salary, benefits & sponsorship
Trainees start on a salary of £60,000, which increases to £65,000 in their second year, and on qualification will increase to £165,000. In addition to a £500 wellbeing allowance, the firm offers a flexible benefits package which you can tailor to your individual needs. 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.
How to apply
If you require any additional support throughout the recruitment process, please contact the Graduate Recruitment team to have a confidential conversation on 020 7903 1000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
- Banking & Finance: Lenders: Big-Ticket (Band 3)
- Banking & Finance: Sponsors (Band 2)
- Corporate/M&A: £800 million and above (Band 5)
- Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 1)
- Tax (Band 4)
- Capital Markets: CLOs (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: High-Yield Products (Band 4)
- Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 4)
- Infrastructure (Band 2)
- Investment Funds: Private Equity (Band 3)
- Investment Funds: Real Estate (Band 4)
- Private Equity: Buyouts: £500 million and above (Band 2)