Ramona Nee has been named Co-Managing Partner of BBA Sponsor Firm, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s Boston office, succeeding Marilyn French Shaw. Ramona will serve alongside Weil partner Kevin Sullivan in her new role.
Ramona’s practice is focused on private equity and corporate transactions, including leveraged buyouts, minority investments and mergers & acquisitions. She also held roles on several firm committees, including Weil’s Taskforce on Women’s Engagement and Retention (TOWER).
Ramona is the fifth woman partner named to a leadership role at Weil over the past year. With Ramona’s promotion, the three most recent elevations to Managing Partner at Weil have been women.
We caught up with Ramona to learn more about her vision for the firm, her thoughts on the Boston legal market today, and moments that have shaped her legal career.
What inspired you to become a lawyer?
I landed on law school almost by default. During my undergrad years, I double-majored in political science and philosophy (with a minor in piano). None of these were an obvious career choice for me, but I was excited to go on to grad school, and law school felt like the natural path. There is the intellectual challenge of being a lawyer, which is always energizing, but what I like best is the ability to help others, both my corporate clients and my pro bono clients. The unique ability to solve my clients’ business challenges, achieve lasting results and develop longstanding relationships with those clients (both at a personal and an institutional level): these things continue to inspire me as a lawyer.
How did you decide to focus your practice on private equity and corporate transactions?
I stumbled into private equity as a first-year attorney. I knew that litigation was not the best fit for me and thought that my skills and interests were better suited to a transactional practice. The first deal I worked on as a first-year associate was for a PE partner. I liked both the team and the client, and I’ve never looked back!
What makes Boston a unique place to practice in the private equity space?
Private equity has its roots in Boston going all the way back to the 1970s—and the area continues to have a high concentration of exceptional private equity sponsors. However, the local industry (and the legal community that services the industry) is pretty small and tight knit, so we find ourselves crossing paths with repeat players often. It’s an exciting and fulfilling way to practice. Having strong connections throughout the Boston legal and corporate communities makes practicing here more fun and deals feel less random.
What has been your most memorable moment as a lawyer in your career thus far?
A few weeks into the Covid-19 shutdown, in March of 2020, my team and I closed a complicated and high-stakes deal, which was really two related deals, one after the other on the same day. Every day felt uncertain, since we were only a few weeks into working from home and no one had a routine or a rhythm. We did not know if the economy was going to shut down overnight, if deal activity would grind to a halt, how productivity would be impacted, or how a pandemic would be interpreted under deal documents that were negotiated months before. All parties came to the table in a constructive manner—guardedly at first, but always with the determination that we would get the job done—and we were able to close those transactions and achieve the result desired by all parties in a surprisingly timely, efficient way. It was an incredibly surreal moment as we had to improvise new processes and adjust to challenging technology, but ultimately everything came together the way we planned. Under those conditions, it almost felt miraculous.
What makes Weil stand out?
Weil Boston is a unique and spectacular office. We’re small enough that everyone feels like family, but we have an exceptional client base (in Boston and beyond) and our practice is a critical driver of productivity across the Firm and its various practice groups. I can’t think of another firm that has such an entrepreneurial boutique feel at the office level while also having a global presence and such a significant impact on the Firm and the industry.
How has the firm evolved during the pandemic?
The pandemic tested us. We realized quickly how adept our attorneys and staff were at change. That said, working remotely was not seamless, as we all know! During the pandemic, the range and frequency of our cross-office communications vastly improved and our technology systems performed very well. Even though we are now back in the office and back to in-person meetings, the increased communication at every level (within our office, within our practice group and across the Firm) will remain a priority. It made us function better within our practice group and throughout the Firm as an enterprise. In turn, we provide better client service and feel vested in each other’s success in a much more personal way.
What are some of the top opportunities for the firm in the coming years? Challenges?
Growing our practice—by nurturing institutional client relationships and cultivating new ones—is both the opportunity and the challenge. Growing our team of attorneys in Boston is one key to the continued expansion of our private equity practice, but we cannot sacrifice our culture or the level of client service that we provide, for the sake of growth. So we need to be aggressive but deliberate, which can be a tough balance to strike, especially in a hyper-competitive market where “offer shopping” is a common dynamic (as opposed to a decade ago when it was much less typical).
Can you describe your vision for the firm in the next 5 years? 10 years?
Whether now, or a decade from now, our vision is to continue to be viewed as a top tier provider of legal services for our clients’ most transformational, strategically important matters. We need to be at the leading edge of our industry, and we want our clients and our prospective clients to come to us because we can respond to (and even help direct) volatile market conditions and changing dynamics with creative and workable solutions. Our clients are looking to transform industries and find opportunities around every corner—we need not only to keep up, but also to help them lead the charge.
As the Head of Hiring for Weil’s Boston office, what are some of the trends you are seeing in the Boston legal market?
So many of BigLaw firms have entered the Boston legal market recently. A decade ago, there were maybe a small handful of them. But the legal community has recognized the importance of a Boston presence. This presents both opportunities and also challenges. There are more fantastic attorneys choosing to launch their careers, or continue their career trajectory, in the Boston area. Even so, Boston remains a tight knit legal community, which we love to see.
What advice do you have for new lawyers entering the Boston legal profession today?
Business development starts right out of law school. The best way to cultivate client relationships is to produce excellent work product and make the effort to connect personally with current clients. Too often, junior attorneys think that business development is for more senior attorneys and only involves going on pitches. That’s just not the case! Building both your own personal brand and client/professional relationships should be top of mind even in the early stages of your career.
What are your thoughts on the Boston Bar Association’s role in the changing legal profession today?
As the profession continues to evolve, networking and making strong connections with others in the industry is more critical than ever. I urge local lawyers to take advantage of the many resources the BBA provides to facilitate these connections and expand your professional network.
When a client comes to Boston and they aren’t familiar with the city, where do you like to take them?
Somewhere near the water! If they want a taste of New England seafood, Row 34, Saltie Girl or Lola 42. Otherwise, you can never go wrong at Mistral.
How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
Outside, with my family and friends. Ideally out on the ocean or running.
Learn more about Ramona Nee here.