Banking & Finance - California
THE FIRM This practice maintains its reputation as a major powerhouse in the California finance market. The team boasts substantial breadth and depth which, when paired with a high activity in market-leading deals and an impressive range of services across the full spectrum of financial transactions, allows the firm to offer clients concise, high-quality and on-the-pulse representation. In recent work it represented UBS in a $1.25 billion term B loan and revolving credit facility for the acquisition of EMI Music Publishing Group.
Sources say: "Their lawyers are the smartest of the smart. They're bright, competent and actively involved in transactions that are setting the trends."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources say global practice cochair John Mendez "is an expert in legal dynamics, he is always up to date with industry and legal changes and challenges." He leads on several of the firm's highlight deals, and recently represented clients such as Credit Suisse and Wells Fargo.
Well respected by market observers, John Jameson is praised for being "an intelligent, proactive problem solver."
Sources frequently laud the "superb" Gregory Robins, whose practice focuses on representing large investment banks like Goldman Sachs, which he recently advised on a $480 million term loan and credit facility for WireCo WorldGroup during its purchase of Koninklijke Lankhorst-Euronete Group.
Glenn Collyer is experienced in both public and private finance transactions, from structuring to documenting and exit financings.
THE FIRM Skadden's banking and finance team is recognized as one of the major players in the market. It is adept at handling a wide variety of transactions such as syndicated loans, acquisition financings, bridge loans, restructurings and workouts. The firm works in a broad range of industries including telecommunications, real estate, gaming and retail. Key clients include lenders such as Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas as well as private equity firms such as TPG and Calera Capital.
Sources say: "A firm with in-depth legal knowledge and experience, and a strong client-service attitude."
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Reamer is described by interviewees as being "very commercial but equally a good advocate who is reliable and trustworthy." This year he represented Penn National Gaming, an owner and operator of horse-racing tracks, casinos and hotels, in $2.5 billion of new senior secured credit facilities.
Kristine Dunn is widely respected by market observers for her strong representation of private equity clients in large financial transactions. She frequently works with companies including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, US Airways and Quicksilver.
David Kitchen is praised for being "very tenacious in negotiations on your behalf, without being overbearing." He handles financial transactions in various spheres including entertainment, media, retail and real estate, as well as cross-border matters.
THE FIRM This 25-strong group offers high-quality representation across the region. It skillfully handles a gamut of financial transactions including work in asset-based lending, syndicated finance and private placement lending. The practice has experience in many industries including transportation, technology and REITs. Key clients include Wells Fargo, PNC Bank and GE Capital.
Sources say: "Their attorneys are always strong and effective advocates."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Mark Spitzer is described as "a very sharp attorney who is easy to work with. He has a great ability to translate complex issues into easily digestible facts." This year he worked with regular client PNC Bank on a number of syndicated credit facility matters.
Sandra Lee Montgomery focuses on acquisition, mezzanine and structured finance work. She is experienced in handling deals with both a nationwide and cross-border scope.
George Hisert is well respected by market observers for his wealth of experience in commercial loan and credit transactions as well as regulatory issues.
THE FIRM With a well-deserved reputation as a leading borrowers' counsel, this practice continues to see substantial work from a wide variety of clients. It has recently been involved in a great number of credit facility deals including representing Del Monte Foods in a $3.45 billion term loan and asset-based revolving credit facility. The firm continues to develop its lender-side practice, building relationships with institutions such as Wells Fargo.
Sources say: "They are a valuable firm because of their knowledge, efficiency and thoroughness."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Linda Curtis wins the praise of interviewees who note her value, saying: "When a deal starts to unravel she can solve problems that look unsolvable. She is very smart and very practical and does an amazing job."
Jeff Hudson has done significant work in the acquisition finance space, alongside his traditional debt finance practice. This year he worked with private investment firm Aurora Capital on a revolving credit facility to finance the purchase of Industrial Container Service.
Cromwell Montgomery's reputation continues to advance. Sources say: "He is a terrific lead partner for us. He is pragmatic, efficient and has a great memory."
Associate Melissa Barshop attracts commendation from clients, one of whom states: "She does an outstanding job - she works so hard for us and is just absolutely stellar."
THE FIRM Paul Hastings's California group does a high volume of work in both the asset-based lending space and in leveraged buyout transactions. It is well respected for its strength as lenders' counsel, with institutions such as RBC Capital Markets, Morgan Stanley and GE Capital among key clients. This year the firm continued to work with Wells Fargo on a variety of matters including representation of the bank in a $1.14 billion revolving loan facility.
Sources say: "They have the resources and capabilities to handle deals with an international angle. They always produce thorough and thoughtful work."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Chair of the finance and restructuring practice, John Hilson is widely respected for his vast market knowledge and experience with asset-based lending. Sources say: "When he is on your team, you have the smartest guy in the room."
Peter Burke is praised as a "very logical, thoughtful and direct attorney." His recent work includes representing regular client City National Bank as a lender in a $2 billion senior credit facility for Health Care REIT.
Jennifer Yount is revered by clients, who say that "she has incredibly deep knowledge and is an excellent communicator with a great ability to home in on what is important to us." Highlights of late include the representation of Wells Fargo in the aforementioned loan transaction.
Described as "a very detail-oriented, hard-working and technically excellent" lawyer, Jennifer Hildebrandt earns significant respect from market observers.
Katherine Bell stands out to clients as a talented associate who "consistently provides us with great work and an amazing service."
THE FIRM Recognized for its proficiency as lenders' counsel, this banking and finance team attracts an increasing volume of work from some of the largest national and regional financial institutions, as well as several foreign credit providers who are active in the market. The firm's expertise spans a range of business sectors including film finance, gaming, healthcare and intellectual property.
Sources say: "They are very skillful and have an aptitude to get the deal done. Their documentation will stand up to any test and they do their business in a timely and efficient way."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Anthony Callobre is recognized as having a "wide breadth of knowledge and a very strong, confident style." His practice includes a full range of services in commercial lending.
Robert Davidson is appreciated for "his invaluable ability not just to know the law and protect clients, but to build strong working relationships." He has ample experience working in asset-based lending, syndicated loan transactions and acquisition finance.
William Schoenholz is described as "a knowledgeable, technically strong and extremely thorough attorney." This year he represented HSBC as administrative agent in a credit facility that involved several foreign subsidiaries.
Clients say Ariel Berrios "knows the law well and is strong at protecting our interests." He is well versed in a range of banking, commercial and bankruptcy matters.
THE FIRM Orrick boasts one of the best public finance practices in the state and is also a particularly strong option for acquisition finance. The group is active in the gaming space and advises in the niche area of Native American finance. The firm recently represented Wells Fargo Gaming Capital in a term loan facility made available to the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority which owns and operates several casinos.
Sources say: "They are smart, strategic and to the point in negotiations."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Alan Benjamin is praised by sources who say that "he is a true counselor and really understands the business side of a deal." His practice focuses on complex financial transactions and restructuring. He is one of the firm's leading experts on the gaming industry and was the lead attorney in the aforementioned deal.
Senior associate Zachary Finley is a valued team member in many of the firm's highlight deals this year. He is experienced in a range of commercial transactions and his clients include both lenders and borrowers.
Highlighted by interviewees, Dolph Hellman is respected as being "smart, hard-working, rational and very creative in reaching solutions." He represented Equinix in obtaining a $750 million syndicated credit facility led by Bank of America.
THE FIRM This firm is acknowledged for its expertise in bank finance. The group handles complex and sophisticated transactions and clients note the seamless, full-service representation across various offices and practices. Standout deals this year include the representation of Ares Management in its $1.6 billion acquisition of 99¢ Only Stores and the related $950 million financing.
Sources say: "I value their depth and scope of knowledge as well as their tremendous attention to our needs as a business."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Steven Weise is doubtless one of the most respected lawyers in the California market. Observers say: "He is a giant in this field and continues to educate us all." His impressive intellect can be demonstrated in all manner of areas, including structured finance, workouts, letters of credit and investment securities.
Neil Cummings' ability to "always find practical solutions to issues" paired with his "very solid and fundamental understanding of the law and the market" ensure he is highly valued by clients. He was the lead finance attorney on the Ares Management deal mentioned above.
A fairly recent addition to the team, senior counsel Glen Lim wins praise for being a "very knowledgeable, diligent and highly efficient individual with immense technical skills." He represents both lenders and borrowers in domestic and international financings.
THE FIRM This expanding California group displays particular strength in representing private equity clients and their portfolio companies in a diverse range of debt finance matters. The firm's standout transactions have included a number of acquisition financings, restructurings, dividend recapitalizations and refinancings. Clients of the firm include Oaktree Capital Management, Huntsmen Gay Global Capital and Golden Gate Capital.
Sources say: "A highly responsive firm which offers good quality advice. The attorneys achieve the right balance between business and legal matters."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Christopher Kirkham is noted by interviewees who observe: "He has experienced a lot of deals and his knowledge and insight are very valuable." His abilities span the field of corporate finance, with notable strengths to be found in secured and unsecured debt finance, workouts and restructurings.
Samantha Good has taken a lead role in a number of noteworthy transactions, including a $4 billion out-of-court restructuring for Kerzner International, which owns and manages the Atlantis and One & Only holiday resorts.
THE FIRM This banking and finance team remains focused on representing both lenders and borrowers in middle and upper-middle market deals. The group has done significant work with private equity firm H.I.G Capital, including several acquisition-related deals and credit facility transactions. Other major clients of the group include GE Capital, JPMorgan and US Bank.
Sources say: "Their attorneys are responsive and proactive and they efficiently move transactions along."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Finance practice head Gary Rosenbaum is described by sources as a "self-starter who knows our business and makes appropriate decisions that suit us well." He is regularly seen representing GE Capital in its West Coast activities.
THE FIRM Clients single out Morrison & Foerster's banking and finance team for the excellence of its debt work, and the firm has built up a strong foothold in cleantech financing as well. The group continues to represent Boyd Gaming Corporation, advising it on several significant matters, including obtaining commitments for financing the purchase of Peninsula Gaming.
Sources say: "Their work is always strong. They are pragmatic and have the ability to prioritize properly between business and legal issues."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Daniel Leventhal splits his time between California and London. Sources say: "He is good to work with and builds strong relationships with in-house counsel. Has an excellent delivery and is always timely." He is well versed in cross-border deals, including syndicated and asset-based lending matters.
THE FIRM Sidley Austin's LA-based branch frequently works with regional and national banks that are actively involved in commercial lending. Established clients include Silicon Valley Bank, which the firm represented in a number of matters including a $72.5 million senior secured credit facility for Francisco Partners' recapitalization of T-System. Other key clients include Merrill Lynch, Citi and BNP Paribas.
Sources say: "Their attorneys have great expertise. A valuable and standout team."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Recognized by observers for her strength in commercial lending, Pamela Martinson has worked for decades on the West Coast and has developed an especially strong relationship with Silicon Valley Bank, which she represented in the matter listed above.
Practice head Moshe Kupietzky is widely praised for his tremendous intelligence and market experience. He frequently leverages off his strong corporate practice to act as borrowers' counsel to clients such as ROM Corporation, which he advised on tens of millions of dollars in loans and facilities recently.
Pauline Stevens of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP has been a strong addition to the firm. She is praised by clients for "possessing a very broad knowledge of the banking and finance field. She is passionate when representing us and great at understanding what matters to our company."
San Francisco-based Jill Matichak of Chapman and Cutler LLP is well versed in a variety of transactions and is known for her strong relationships with leading financial institutions. She is particularly highly praised for her acquisition finance expertise.
Brian Kilb of Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor LLP is noted for his "stellar reputation and penetrating intellect." He has some of the broadest and deepest financing expertise in the state.
Brian Newhouse of Mayer Brown LLP is seen by market observers as a significant lawyer in this field and a strong addition to the rankings. He follows the trend of several others in dividing his practice between New York and Los Angeles, and is particularly strong in representing financial institutions in leveraged finance transactions.
Neil Rust recently joined McGuireWoods LLP from White & Case. He has experience in a broad range of financial transactions as well as M&A. He has recently advised several leading banks including JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.
Well-respected Gary Samson of McGuireWoods LLP is acknowledged for his strength in lender-side representation. Clients appreciatively note that he is "very experienced in asset-based lending" and laud his "very keen business sense." One client calls him "the best-balanced lawyer I've seen. He makes opposing counsel feel like they're working to a common goal."
Melainie Mansfield of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP is especially active in acquisition finance and works in a number of industries including telecommunications, technology and entertainment. Sources describe her as "absolutely wonderful to work with."
Although he divides his time between New York and Los Angeles, Marshall Stoddard of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP remains a significant presence in the California market. Sources say: "His strengths are his industry knowledge, his work ethic and his ability to streamline complex issues," paired with his "rare ability to protect clients with precise documentation on the one hand and a win-win discussion style on the other."
Tom Baxter of O'Melveny & Myers LLP is viewed by market observers as a strong asset to his firm. This year he represented Western Digital Corporation in connection with its $2.8 billion of unsecured loan facilities.
Chair of the corporate finance practice Eric Reimer of O'Melveny & Myers LLP represents clients from both sides of the financial transaction. He recently worked with Avenue Capital in a refinancing and recapitalization of $1.2 billion in notes related to a merger.
Steven Sherman of Shearman & Sterling LLP continues to divide his time between New York and San Francisco. Interviewees note his "solid intellect and driven character." This year he continued to represent regular client Bank of America in several transactions in the asset-based finance sphere.
Peter Carson recently joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP from Bingham McCutchen. Carson is viewed favorably by interviewees who say that "he always puts an appropriate priority on legal and business issues knowing which to prioritize and when." He is situated in San Francisco and his practice involves representing clients in all aspects of secured and unsecured debt financings.
Bradley Crawford recently joined Vedder Price PC from Bingham McCutchen. Crawford "has exceptionally strong knowledge and a deep understanding of clients' goals." Recent highlights at his prior firm include advising Prudential Capital Group in a $1.27 billion corporate reorganization.
Market observers praise Silicon Valley-based Gabriel Gregson of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP for his expertise in sponsor-side work. His impressive client roster includes numerous private equity firms including Summit Partners, The Gore Group and Technology Crossover Ventures.
Susan Alker recently joined Winston & Strawn LLP from Reed Smith. Alker is acknowledged by sources as being "very hands-on - she gets to know her clients and tailors agreements accordingly. She's great at business development and focusing on what the company needs."