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Know Your Lawyer: Jonathan Weinberg of White & Case

Know Your Lawyer: Jonathan Weinberg of White & Case

Issue 10.7
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An in-depth look at Jonathan Weinberg of White & Case covering his career path, education, and top projects as a lawyer as well as a few insights about him as a manager at work and as a person outside the office.

Career:

  • White & Case; Partner; 2007-present
  • Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP; Counsel; 2003-2007
  • Watson, Farley & Williams; Associate; 1999-2003

Education:

  • London School of Economics; LLM; 1996
  • Osgoode Hall Law School; LLB; 1993

Favorites:

  • Out of office activity: Anything with the kids 
  • Quote: “Any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy
  • Book: The Naive and Sentimental Lover, by John le Carre
  • Movie: Love Liza (2002)

Top 5 Projects:

  • Acting for Goldman Sachs in connection with a USD 315 million senior leveraged financing for Lion Capital as a sponsor. The target was the Russian Alcohol Group. Goldman Sachs, ING London, Bank Austria, and Raiffeisen acted as mandated lead arrangers;
  • Representing Banca IMI, BNP Paribas Fortis, Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka, ING Bank, Komercni Banka, Societe Generale, and UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia, in their role as coordinators of CZK 32 billion financing of Ceska Telekomunikacni Infrastruktura;
  • Representing Carlyle on the financing of the acquisition of Tescan Orsay Holding;
  • Representing the PPF Group in both the financing and M&A aspects of its acquisition of Central European Media Enterprises;
  • Representing the IFC in connection with the provision of loan facilities to Vjetroelektrana Rudine and RP Global Danilo, subsidiaries of RP Global, to finance two wind power plant projects in Sibenik and Rudine in Croatia.

CEELM: What would you say was the most challenging project you ever worked on and why?

Weinberg: Nidan Soki, the first leveraged acquisition financing by a Western financial sponsor in Russia, before The Fall. The deal involved plenty of on-the-fly problem-solving and was so intense that we had to snatch brief cat-naps in the corners of offices and on boardroom chairs. Only when, bleary-eyed at four o’clock in the morning, I sent out a draft dated “32 September,” did the banks mercifully call a halt for a few hours, to let us catch up on sleep. It was one of those transactions which demanded so much of you that you hated living in your own skin by the end of it. But there was something of the camaraderie of battle about it, and I have rarely since felt quite so much a part of a team. It is also the deal that got me to Prague, where I met my wife and built my family.

CEELM: And what was your main takeaway from it?

Weinberg: Never give up – there is always a solution or at least a workaround. A team is much more than the sum total of its parts; every member has a role to play, and it’s often the shy, retiring ones who surprise you with sudden brilliance or grim determination, and a team that finds its rhythm hums along just like a dinghy’s vibrating daggerboard. Also, the best teacher of succinct drafting is a novel problem on an impossible deadline.                            

CEELM: What is one thing clients likely don’t know about you?

Weinberg: I once rebuilt a Victorian house in Toronto, with some friends. A girlfriend I had at the time found it more than a little ridiculous, when visiting the building site, to find us all perched up ladders, heads through the joists, leafing through tradesmen’s textbooks trying to figure out how to do electrical this or plumbing that. 

CEELM: Name one mentor who played a big role in your career and how they impacted you.

Weinberg: Stephen Mostyn-Williams is an obvious candidate, as is Jan Matejcek, both of them larger-than-life characters and superb teambuilders. But if I had to choose anyone it would be Christopher Kandel, perhaps the best black letter lawyer I have had the privilege to work with, and in the end a friend. I followed Christopher to White & Case from Cadwalader, and he was our captain on the Russian deals for Goldman Sachs.  It was he also who suggested I meet with Jan and make the move to Prague.

CEELM: Name one mentee you are particularly proud of.

Weinberg: Tomas Jine, though from my office I can hear his teeth grinding at the idea he was ever my mentee. From early on, Tomas struck me as someone who could balance technical skill and commercial pragmatism, which is only possible if you examine every technical or structural problem from both the treetops and the forest floor, and at the same time.    

CEELM: What is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself fresh out of law school?

Weinberg: Think ahead and take your time. Don’t drift from one excitement to another like so much flotsam. Play the long game, and do what suits you. Life is ultimately a solo sport, though it need not be a solipsistic one. Oftentimes the better option is not the most lucrative or flattering. 

This article was originally published in Issue 10.7 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here