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Weil, Gotshal See Lawyers Move from Dallas and Houston
New York-based Weil, Gotshal & Manges built Texas operations up from scratch for two decades. Over time, more than 115 talented lawyers were recruited as the pay was measured in New York standards, the life was Texas-sized, and the clients were world class, including big name firms across industries such as American Airlines, HM Capital Partners Kinder Morgan, and Hicks Muse Tate & Furst.
In time, the kind of diversity and pro bono work made Weil a model for others – they became a benchmark of Big Law in Texas. In a turn recently, Weil has seen dozens of lawyers move on to other pastures. The Dallas News comments “Weil has lost dozens of lawyers in what many call a “complete debacle,” [because of] Weil’s leadership in New York. Its sterling reputation has been severely tarnished in the state.”
This past June, Weil made an announcement that fired 60 lawyers as well as reduced the compensation of some of the partners there. The cuts were for the most part targeted in Houston. In the past six weeks three dozen lawyers from Weil- half being equity partners there, have “jumped ship” to sail on the high seas under another banner.
Weil’s managing partner in Houston commented, “It became very clear to me and others that through very overt action, Weil was no longer committed to having a robust operation in Texas, Weil managing partner in Houston who has joined Chicago-based Winston & Strawn’s Houston operation, [and] Weil’s leadership has become very New York-centric.”
When 60 lawyers were notified that Weil would “de-emphasize its complex commercial litigation practice in Houston,” Dallas partners started fearing for their jobs and wondering if they were next to the block. Several partners who departed thought that the managing partners and chairman should have come to Dallas and met with partners over their concerns. However, several Weil partners noted that “they didn’t until it was too late.”
A short timeline spanning the past 3 months captures what happened in the exodus. On June 24, when 60 lawyers received an announced that they were to be fired while others who stayed on would receive a pay cut. On Sep. 11th, Michael Saslaw, a corporate partner “whose practice focused on energy mergers and acquisitions and infrastructure” left Weil and joined Vinson & Elkins in Dallas. September 17th saw 8 partners leave for Sidley Austin also in Dallas. 7 women out of the eight partners known as the “Weil 7” decided to join forces as they moved to Sidley Austin. They represented a third of the female equity partners at Weil. On Sep 30th IP partner Nicolas Barzoukas leaves to join Baker Botts, and on Oct. 7th M&A private equity partner Scott Parel left to join Sidley Austin in Dallas, marking the exodus’s end.
Image Credit: Elixher.com & Bloomberg & Above the Law