Weil Gotshal fixes US lawyer shortage

New York firm Weil Gotshal & Manges is boosting its US banking and finance practice in London by drafting in two new partners.

The firm is recruiting US capital markets and financing specialist Wayne Rapozo from rival Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom to focus on IPOs and high-yield and acquisition finance. And Ron Daitz, head of Weil Gotshal’s international banking practice, is relocating to London.

Head of the London office Michael Francies says: “One of the things that we identified way before last year was that we really didn’t have enough US lawyers – the ratio was something like 80 UK to 20 US. That meant, when we got big jobs in, we immediately used up all of our US lawyers.”

Daitz has acted for clients such as Citigroup, GE Capital, Lehman Brothers and Chase Manhattan. Rapozo will work for similar clients, as well as for private equity clients of the firm, such as Hicks Muse Tate & Furst.

On Rapozo, Francies says: “We have the relationships, but we don’t really need that. What we need are lawyers of his experience and seasoning to take advantage of them.” He adds: “The European markets are seeing large privatisations coming to a close, and leveraged financing and private equity and strategic investors driving the larger transactions.

“Weil Gotshal in London has the ability to advise on all phases, on both UK and US law, from the acquisition and first-round financing through to the exit strategy.”

Francies says the arrival of Daitz and his relationships with institutional clients at senior level will help to re-establish the banking department and attract new talent.

The firm is recruiting to replace the banking team that left with former banking head Maurice Allen when he went to White & Case. It is also planning to build a UK restructuring practice as the new recruits add US capability in that area.