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Weil set for new London leadership as longstanding office head Mike Francies prepares to step down

Longstanding Weil Gotshal & Manges London managing partner Mike Francies is set to step down after more than 20 years in the role. Francies, who joined Weil from Clifford Chance in 1998 and started leading the office two years later, will retire at the end of 2024.

Public M&A partner David Avery-Gee and private equity partner Jonathan Wood will work alongside Francies as co-managing partners for a transition period starting in January 2024.

The news was announced to the firm at 1pm UK time 6 October in an internal memo from chief executive Barry Wolf.

‘I am pleased to announce upcoming leadership changes in our London office’, the memo reads. ‘Effective 1 January 2024, David Avery-Gee and Jonathan Wood will be joining Mike Francies as co-managing partners of the London office. Having a full year in which David and Jonathan are working alongside Mike, prior to his retirement at the end of next year, will ensure the smoothest and most seamless leadership transition.’

Francies became Weil’s London managing partner in 2000, four years after the office was first established, and has been instrumental in building the base into one of the most successful US firm offerings in London.

The firm sits in 13th position in Legal Business’s 2023 Global London report, with 225 fee earners as at April this year and nearly 50 partners. The firm boasts Tier One Legal 500 rankings in private equity, acquisition finance and restructuring and insolvency.

‘Mike is amazing and has been amazing for a long period of time’, said private equity partner Richard Youle, who became London managing partner at Skadden in July. ‘It’s a well-earned retirement. He’s done an amazing job.

‘Weil is balancing its corporate and financial sponsor practices well by bringing Jonathan and David in at the helm.’

Under PE and M&A partner Francies, Weil has significantly expanded its corporate ranks in the City in recent years. Notable hires include Avery-Gee, who joined from Linklaters in 2020, Slaughter and May corporate partner Murray Cox, who joined in February 2021, and competition partner Jenine Hulsmann, who joined the same year from CC. The firm has continued to grow in 2023, with three London hires in January alone: Sarah Flaherty from Linklaters, and high-yield partners Andy Hagan and Gilles Teerlinck, from Freshfields and White & Case, respectively. In March, the firm brought in Latham & Watkins private equity infrastructure specialist Brendan Moylan.

News of the forthcoming change in management comes after the London office’s LLP accounts for calendar year end 2022 were filed with Companies House last week (4 October). The accounts show that the London office turned over £226.7m, up just under 2% from £222.4m in 2021. Operating profit was down nearly 12% to £105.05m, from £118.8m. The highest-paid member, meanwhile, took home nearly 34% less in 2022 than in 2021: £1.7m, down from £2.6m.