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Another CEE closure for Weil Gotshal as Prague team launches independent firm

Weil, Gotshal & Manges is continuing to scale back its once-potent central and eastern Europe (CEE) operations with its entire Czech Republic-based team set to spin off at the end of the year.

The New York firm confirmed today (27 November) that veteran Prague managing partner Karel Muzikář will quit after more than 25 years to set up an independent shop from 31 December alongside fellow partners Karel Drevinek, Petr Severa and Karolina Horakova.

Once the jewel in the crown of Weil’s regional operations in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the now 11-strong Prague team is to leave the firm less than a year after its 20-lawyer Budapest office joined Bird & Bird , leaving Warsaw as the firm’s only office in CEE.

Weil’s chair and executive partner Barry Wolf said the move ‘offers both the US and Czech practices the freedom and flexibility to address issues faced by them in the different business environments in which they operate‘, adding the two firms could ‘continue to work with each other when needed for client relationships‘.

The firm also recently pulled out of the Middle East, shutting its Dubai office last year.

The closures come despite Weil posting satisfactory financial results this year, its global profit per equity partner rising 18% to $3.64m amid a 10% hike in turnover to $1.39bn in 2017.

Alongside London, which last year grew revenues 33% to $165.4m, Weil has a well-regarded private equity Paris operation and two German bases in Munich and Frankfurt in western Europe.

Yet the closures in CEE are highly significant for a firm that was once one of the top international brands in the region.