Investment in Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ City arm has long come in fits and starts, avoiding broader M&A ambitions to become a well-regarded private equity player, while arguably being outpaced by US rivals Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Questions also linger around who will lead when Mike Francies, its veteran London managing partner, steps down. Is the recent flurry of laterals evidence that Weil is ready to seize the City breakthrough that has long looked frustratingly just out of reach?
For critics, the firm has only itself to blame as Weil has long been held back in London by a lack of cohesion or vision about where to take the practice, even as a group of US rivals have steamed ahead in the last five years. Notes one former partner: ‘Someone senior told me years ago: “We’re not a partnership, we’re a group of individuals who choose to work together.” In the States, it was a restructuring firm and people used to call it “We’ll Get You and Mangle You!”’