Biglaw, Intellectual Property, Lateral Moves, Litigators, Partner Issues

New Partner Watch (Plus Partner Departures): Weil Gotshal

When we sit down at Thanksgiving this year, we’ll give thanks for Weil Gotshal. Over the past few months, the highly prestigious and profitable firm has generated a cornucopia of tasty news to cover.

And the drama isn’t over yet. Instead, the soap opera continues.

Soap operas feature ups as well as downs; they’re not all bad news (because that would be boring). Births and marriages balance out deaths and divorces.

So for today’s Weil Gotshal update, we’ll start with the happy stuff — new partners! — before moving on to the gloomier news….

Here’s the new partner news, via U.K.-based Legal Week:

Weil Gotshal & Manges has made up nine new partners, including four women, in its latest global promotions round.

The promotions — which will take effect from January 2014 — see two lawyers made up in London including litigator Hannah Field-Lowes and Mark Lawford who is part of Weil’s business finance & restructuring department.

That’s good news for the bankruptcy folks at Weil. Even though the firm seemed to be saying, around the time of its major layoffs, that it wanted to de-emphasize practices like bankruptcy and complex commercial litigation, it’s nice to see a new partner in BFR.

Here is what one of our Weil sources had to say about the new class:

The new partner/counsel class is pretty robust and diverse — almost half women and two of the new partners/counsel are openly LGBT (one partner/one counsel). Pretty good mix across offices, too.

That’s a fair assessment. The new class of nine partners is slightly smaller than last year’s class of 12, but nine is still a healthy number.

And this year’s class is, as noted by our tipster, more gender-balanced: four of the nine are women, compared to last year’s class, where only two of the 12 were women. Considering the massive estrogen exodus from the WGM partnership, especially in Texas, one can see why the firm would want more women among the partnership ranks.

In terms of geography, the nine new partners come from New York (4), London (2), Warsaw (2), and D.C. (1). This suggests that Weil is becoming more New York-centric, as some of the Texas defectors complained about; emphasizing its transactional practices, with New York and London as its two top financial centers; and investing in Eastern Europe. This year the firm made two new partners in Poland; last year, the firm made four new partners in Prague (along with three in New York and three in London).

Note the absence of new partners in Texas (which Weil recently reaffirmed its commitment to). But as we noted in Morning Docket last week, Weil did bring Courtney Solcher Marcus back to the partnership — in Dallas, the firm’s Texas flagship and the office where it lost the most women. We’ve posted the full list of Weil’s new partners, including office and practice-group information, on the next page.

Now, on to the bad news. Here’s a report from Am Law Daily:

Greenberg Traurig has hired three intellectual property partners from Weil, Gotshal & Manges: MARK DAVIS, STEPHEN SHAHIDA and RONALD PABIS. All three join as shareholders in Washington, D.C., and Davis, who has represented clients before the International Trade Commission, will also chair Greenberg’s ITC practice.

Greenberg CEO Richard Rosenbaum says the firm has been looking to expand its national patent litigation practice and ITC work, particularly in D.C. “When we were doing our search, Mark Davis’ name popped up several times as one of the go-to players in that area,” he says. Rosenbaum adds that Greenberg has been talking to the group about lateraling for the past couple of months and that Greenberg approached them about the move….

A spokeswoman for Weil said, “We wish them well in their future endeavors.”

You can read more in the Greenberg Traurig press release. End dates at Weil and start dates at Greenberg are still being worked out; as of now, the departing partners’ bios remain on the Weil website. (Perhaps they’re being held to some kind of notice requirement, as we saw with the Sidley defectors in Dallas and the Quinn Emanuel defectors in D.C.)

What’s the significance of the departures? Here is what one of our sources, an IP litigator at another firm, had to say:

I checked on DocketNavigator to see what these guys are of record on, and noticed that they have all worked on cases for Apple, a potentially growing GT IP client. Maybe that is why they were hired. It will definitely be sink or swim for them at GT, as it is for everyone there…. [C]learly firms like GT are the future, in terms of having the flexibility to poach partners and see if they work out.

Will they work out? Time will tell. But at least Greenberg Traurig is willing to take risks. See also their new hiring intiatives (creating non-shareholder-track “residencies” and “practice group attorney” positions).

Congratulations to the nine new Weil Gotshal partners. Say what you will about Weil, but it’s definitely an exciting place to work these days.

(Flip to the next page for collected links to Weil Gotshal news and the full list of new partners — perhaps you know some of them?)

(hidden for your protection)

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