24 Nov 2021

Simpson Thacher and Weil unveil bumper New York-focused partner promotion rounds

Amid surging deal activity, Weil promotes record-breaking 26 partners; Simpson Thacher elevates 31

Both New York firms have promoted most partners in their respective headquarters Shutterstock

Weil and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett have unveiled their latest batches of partner promotions, with both firms electing to promote significantly more lawyers than in last year’s trimmed-down rounds. 

The New York-based rivals elevated 26 and 31 lawyers to partner respectively after a year that saw the pair promote just 13 and 20 lawyers in the early throes of the pandemic. 

This year’s partner tally is the largest on record for Weil, which also added 57 new counsel to its ranks. Weil’s gender balance ratio improved from 30% to 42%, with 11 of the 26 spots going to women compared to just 4 in 2020. 

As per most years, the firm’s New York headquarters was awarded the highest number of promotions by a landslide with 14. Five more promotions were made across the firm’s wider US network, with three in Washington DC and one apiece in Boston and Silicon Valley. 

In terms of international appointments, Weil’s London office gained the highest number of new partners outside the US with four City lawyers moving up the ladder: Edward Freeman (private equity), Alexander Horstmann-Caines (banking and finance), Hayley Lund (litigation) and Jenny Davison (restructuring). 

The firm made two significant partner-level hires from UK Magic Circle firms in London earlier this year when it nabbed Slaughter & May corporate partner Murray Cox in Feburary and secured antitrust partner Jenine Hulsmann from Clifford Chance in May. 

Weil’s continental European appointments were down from three to one, however, with the sole spot going to tax lawyer Benjamin Rapp in Frankfurt; last year saw one promotion in Munich and two in Paris. 

The final spot was awarded to private equity and M&A specialist Sandy Lin in the firm’s Hong Kong office, which recently received a boost when it landed restructuring partner Kathleen Aka from Ropes & Gray in October. 

All of the firm’s core departments were represented by this year’s cohort, with the highest number of lawyers moving up the ranks in Weil’s private equity group (7), followed by litigation and M&A, which saw four promotions apiece. The rest of the appointments were made across the firm’s banking and finance (3), capital markets (2), restructuring (2), tax (2), real estate (1) and technology and intellectual property (1) groups. 

“We are thrilled to welcome this record class of incredibly talented lawyers to our partnership,” said Barry Wolf, Weil’s executive partner. “Reflecting the strength and balance of our global practice, these new partners will be a vital part of our future growth and continued success as a firm.” 

Simpson Thacher's bounce-back round also consisted of primarily US-based appointments, with more than half (17) of the spots going to lawyers in the firm’s New York base. Ten more lawyers got the nod across its US network, with six moving up in DC, three in Palo Alto and one in Los Angeles. 

Elsewhere, the firm’s London promotions dipped from 3 to just one this year, with the sole City spot going to corporate specialist Jiaying Zhang. One lawyer, Paulo Fernanda de Menezes Cardoso, joined the partnership in the firm’s São Paulo office, with this year’s final two spots going to private equity duo Michael Cuelen and Marjory Ding in Hong Kong. 

The firm's gender split just about matched Weil’s with 13 of the 31 spots (41%) going to women, marking a slight increase on last year’s seven (35%). 

In terms of practice area, private funds led the charge with seven appointments, followed closely by capital markets with six and M&A with five. Three lawyers moved up in the firm’s litigation and public company advisory groups respectively, while fund finance and banking and credit saw two promotions apiece. 

The Wall Street giant surged to the top of US M&A rankings by deal volume in the first half of the year, working on 104 US deals worth $349bn – a four-fold increase compared to the same period in 2020, according to Mergermarket. It rode the M&A wave into seventh spot in Refinitiv’s year-to-date global rankings yesterday as global M&A activity smashed through the $5tr barrier for the first time on record.

Simpson Thacher also opened an office in Brussels in September – its first in mainlaind Europe –  led by dual-qualified UK and Italian competition lawyer Antonio Bavasso, who joined the firm’s London office in February from Allen & Overy with the expectation he would sit at the helm in the European capital. 

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