In this Q&A, they share why they choose to practice at Weil, experiences serving clients through the pandemic, exciting trends in litigation and private equity, and the legal profession’s efforts to advance equity and inclusion.
Why were you drawn to practice at Weil?
Chantale: Weil is a global powerhouse and, as a Washingtonian, it presented a unique opportunity to grow a world-class commercial litigation practice here in the nation’s capital on an already thriving global platform. It has exceeded all of my expectations, particularly because Weil’s fun, dynamic and enterprising culture makes it a really vibrant place to practice, full of excellent lawyers grappling with the corporate world’s most complex issues.
Trey: Prior to Weil, I spent nearly 25 years at another global law firm. I joined that firm as a second-year associate and over time I developed a successful M&A practice and was appointed as partner in charge of one its largest and most profitable offices. I was not inclined to leave and take a chance on “something new.” However, I am a person who seeks growth and development professionally and personally. Weil’s Private Equity practice is exceptional and the platform offers me the opportunity to continue to scale my practice to an even higher level. Equally important, the lawyers and administrative staff are approachable and team focused. I am glad that I left my comfort zone and joined the Weil team.
What has it been like to serve clients while working mostly remotely throughout the pandemic?
Chantale: In many ways, the pandemic has brought us closer than ever with our clients. Many of them – like the rest of us – have had their personal and professional lives profoundly impacted by the pandemic, and it’s a uniquely unpredictable time in history that we are all navigating together. As a result, we have had the chance to continue serving as trusted counselors to our clients as they face novel challenges at an unprecedented rate, including legal, regulatory and transnational issues. It has been deeply rewarding to work so closely with our clients during this time.
Trey: For many transactional attorneys, these past two years have been not only the busiest period in their careers but also the most productive. One of the largest challenges has been to carve out personal time. Prior to the pandemic, commutes, gym time, weekends, community meetings, engagements with friends all created periods of separation from work. However, for an extended period, the buffer periods were removed and work filled in the void. Client expectations are high and many lawyers increased their productivity to match their clients’ demands. This has been an incredible challenge for lawyers in general and younger lawyers in particular. For many lawyers, the past two years have been both professionally exhilarating and exhausting.
What is the most interesting trend you are seeing in your practice areas?
Chantale: I’ll share two. First, the recent legal developments relating to public nuisance laws are important for many of my clients, particularly in terms of whether public nuisance is a viable cause of action to impose liability on corporate actors for many endemic public and social issues. Second, the pace of trials and arbitrations has picked up dramatically. We all saw case calendars slow down very early in the pandemic, but I’ve now had a four-week federal jury trial and two-week arbitration in recent months, and I have two more firmly scheduled for early 2022. The courts and our clients are making up for lost time and we are ready for an extremely robust 2022.
Trey: I am a Private Equity/M&A attorney. During my career, I have witnessed the tremendous growth in Private Equity/M&A from both the volume of deals and size of deals. The amount of capital that has been allocated to private equity funds would have been incomprehensible 25 years ago. Nevertheless, there is a need to deploy the capital that has been raised, as well as to show meaningful and differentiated returns. As a result, we have witnessed the rise of large asset management platforms, where asset managers offer a wide range of products to investors including leverage buyout, special situations, credit, secondaries and early stage/growth equity investment funds. In fact, some of these large asset management platforms have become publicly traded. Each of the foregoing business lines provides an opportunity for our Private Equity practice to engage in meaningful transactions and grow our practice.
To date, how would you describe the legal profession’s efforts to advance equity and inclusion? What are the best ways to foster a more diverse legal profession going forward?
Chantale: Weil is a leader in innovative diversity efforts, and has a meaningful and sustained commitment to diversity of all types. The industry’s prior efforts to diversify the legal profession have made many important advancements, and we can see that in some exciting recent developments, including meaningful advancements in the diversification of the judiciary, as well as increased numbers of women in firm management and leadership positions across the profession. We need to continue deploying every tool in our arsenal, but I have found scholarships, role models and long-term, sustained mentoring to be most impactful in increasing both the number of attorneys from underrepresented groups, as well as their own levels of success and professional satisfaction.
Trey: I have practiced law for nearly three decades. While there is plenty of work to be done, there has been significant attention and effort invested over the past several years to enhance DEI efforts. As I look at both gender and ethnic diversity, there are authentic conversations that are occurring and these conversations give me hope for continued improvement. However, I do think our metric for success has been too limited historically. It has been a simple measure – law firm partnership. Yet for many law students this isn’t a goal or even a passing interest. I do believe the best way to foster enhanced diversity is to ensure that all attorneys are offered the opportunity to thrive through fair allocation of work assignments, active mentoring and sponsorship and sharing work opportunities within the Firm as well as with clients. If we continue to build on this foundation, we will invariably see more success in the years to come.