Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation - Nationwide
THE FIRM Market observers are unequivocal in their support for this firm's rating as a top fund formation shop. Having attracted some of the brightest talents in the industry, Debevoise houses a deep and experienced bench that is equipped to handle the most sophisticated of mandates. Lawyers work across an impressive range of industries and asset classes, from mega buyout funds to sector-focused funds in energy, healthcare and telecommunications. As well as providing stellar formation and structuring guidance, the team also ensures its clients are kept abreast of current regulatory conditions. Oaktree Capital Management, HarbourVest Partners and Stone Point Capital are a selection of the private equity giants that make up this team's impressive client roster.
Client Service "They all have a delightful personal touch, very user friendly - it is part of their culture. They do place client service at a premium - responsiveness has been ingrained into their psyche."
Commercial Awareness "They are knowledgeable on a global basis; they understand the implications and laws in the various locales throughout the world, so we consider them one of the best in the business."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Distinguished partner Michael Harrell continues to work closely with key client Oaktree Capital Management and is described by market sources as one of the "deans of the industry." He has recently been occupied with the impact of regulatory changes wrought by the Dodd-Frank reforms on the private equity industry.
Jennifer Burleigh is lauded for her "outstanding technical knowledge of market and legal private equity fundraising issues." She spearheaded the team representing Tenex Capital on its $450 million fund focusing on investments in distressed companies.
Cochair of the private equity funds group David Schwartz has lately been active on a significant emerging markets fund formed by Capital International which, at $3 billion, is one of the largest of its kind in recent years.
Rebecca Silberstein attracts glowing endorsements for her "incredibly thoughtful and business-minded approach," with one source adding: "She is very, very meticulous in the work that she does." She continues to work with clients such as Stone Point Capital in significant matters.
"Fantastic lawyer" Erica Berthou is also highly appreciated by her clients, who describe her as "very hard-working and dynamic." She has overseen some of the team's largest mandates of late, including an $8.25 billion fund for Global Infrastructure Partners, the largest fund of its kind ever to be raised.
Jordan Murray is increasingly gaining recognition through his involvement with major clients such as Providence Equity Partners, for whom he recently closed a media-focused fund. One enthusiastic source comments: "I think the world of his work."
THE FIRM Kirkland's fund formation team stands out for its stellar relationships with numerous private equity luminaries such as Golden Gate Capital, CVC and Starwood Capital Group. It is frequently the recipient of complex and cutting-edge mandates, and is particularly noted for its ability to handle global work due to its seamless integration across all offices in its network. Capitalizing on its impressive capabilities in fund formation, Kirkland has developed leading emerging markets and secondaries practices in order to best serve clients in the constantly evolving private equity landscape. The team's work is supported by sophisticated tax, ERISA and regulatory lawyers throughout the firm.
Client Service "They are extremely smart and thoughtful. I'm constantly amazed at the response time, the thoughtfulness and how quickly they provide really good advice on anything I ask them."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Bruce Ettelson's clients are consistently impressed with his thorough and dedicated approach, praising him as an "authority on private equity fund work and structuring." He recently acted on the Golden Gate Capital Opportunity Fund's final closing, which raised approximately $3.7 billion in commitments.
"Phenomenal lawyer" John O'Neil is acknowledged for his strong track record representing large sponsors. Water Street Healthcare Partners selected him to guide its buyout fund to a $750 million final closing.
Chris Kallos offers experience in representing clients on both the sponsor and investor side. He acts for some of the firm's largest clients in a wide range of private equity fund activity, including formation, spin-outs and investments.
Sarah Kirson is praised for her leadership abilities, with one source describing her as "extraordinarily effective." A recent highlight saw her acting on behalf of Symphony Technology Group on its $871 million buyout fund.
New York-based Andrew Wright is praised by one client as being "a genuine partner in our business." He is highlighted as being an "extraordinarily knowledgeable and responsive" attorney, who "stands out for his breadth of expertise."
THE FIRM This firm has a deep reservoir of fund formation talent spanning its New York, Los Angeles and Palo Alto offices. The firm continues to defy market conditions and grow its formidable private funds practice, and invites a remarkable volume of work from private equity giants such as Apax, Blackstone and The Carlyle Group. The team specializes in raising large buyout funds for such clients, but has also experienced an uptick in work flowing from other asset classes such as energy, infrastructure and emerging markets.
Commercial Awareness "They are very current on market innovations, structures and what the latest thinking is. They are very commercial and focused on trying to get the deal done."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Thomas Bell is universally recognized as leader in the private funds field. He is credited with possessing an "outstanding command of the market" and "a super knowledge of the industry overall." His practice covers the full range of fund types, and his deep experience attracts some of the most sophisticated clients in the business.
Esteemed partner Michael Wolitzer consistently delivers high-quality work to his roster of clients, who commend his "incredibly patient" approach and his availability. He is "very good at synthesizing information," according to one impressed observer.
Barrie Covit is highly respected in the market for his broad-ranging funds practice. He frequently acts on behalf of marquee clients such as KKR, The Carlyle Group and Lexington Partners. "He is an excellent fund lawyer, extremely responsive and very well versed in the agreements and practices in the marketplace," states one source.
Glenn Sarno covers the full spectrum of asset classes in his well-established practice. He has developed an excellent reputation for his work on behalf of sponsors of fund of funds products.
Jason Herman enters the rankings backed by exceptional client feedback on his thriving practice. He works across a variety of asset categories, and is lauded as "an incredibly strong service provider." He is also noted for his ability to "approach issues with a great sense of practicality."
THE FIRM Cleary Gottlieb's private funds team has racked up an impressive deal list forming funds for a number of prominent industry players such as TPG, KKR and JPMorgan. Its lawyers have made an impressive mark on the international stage, and demonstrate notable skill in forming private equity funds with global elements. The team's recent work includes advising Victoria Capital Partners on its Latin American-based second fund. It offers clients the benefit of its extensive market perspective, gained through years of working with major industry players.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Gerstenzang enjoys a sterling reputation in the private funds space, and is hailed by one commentator as "a thought leader" in the space. He recently formed two Asia-focused funds for private equity giant KKR.
Elizabeth Lenas has cultivated a strong reputation in the field, acting on behalf of major industry names such as TPG, KKR and Blackstone Alternative Asset Management.
THE FIRM This firm has cemented its position as a go-to adviser for private equity firms and institutional groups seeking a holistic approach to fund formation matters. It is credited with housing considerable expertise on the regulatory and compliance implications of formations and structurings. Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley Infrastructure and Tailwind Capital partners have all recently called upon the guidance of Davis Polk practitioners in matters related to Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Act. The team has also recently advised a key client on the formation of a series of feeder funds.
Sources say: "As a team they work very closely together and with the various departments of the firm." "They are very practical, and have hands-on knowledge of issues."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "thoughtful and decisive" Yukako Kawata remains a top choice for private equity funds clients. She is particularly highlighted for the huge breadth of her experience, and her deep industry ties: "She has a lot of connectivity to other experts in the industry and a finger on the pulse of the regulators."
Leor Landa is identified as an "outstanding private funds lawyer," and a "strategic player in terms of new structures and solutions." His recent work includes providing ongoing advice to Credit Suisse Partners on secondary transactions.
THE FIRM This vibrant team has been highly visible in the market of late. It demonstrates particular skill in high-value and innovative mandates, such as the launch of a fund for BlackRock which will target investors in the renewable energy industry. Its illustrious client roster includes some of the most notable names in the industry, including Oaktree Capital Management, Blackstone and Apollo. The team maintains a strong market profile due in large part to its talented and prominent bench of practitioners. It is highly adept across the full range of fund types, including buyout, mezzanine, infrastructure and hybrid funds.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Marco Masotti has presided over some of the firm's most important private funds mandates of late. These include Apollo Global Management's strategic partnership with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, worth $3 billion in commitments.
Robert Hirsh "has seen it all, and his experience is invaluable," according to market commentary. Roark Capital Management has recently engaged him to act on its third fund, which has so far raised over $1.2 billion.
THE FIRM This agile team located across several of Ropes & Gray's national offices advises virtually every type of stakeholder in the market on fund formation, investments, secondary transactions and regulatory issues. The group regularly advises PIMCO on the operation of its funds, and recently assisted it with the launch of a series of funds across various credit sectors. Boston Ventures, Landmark Capital and Brown University are also established clients of the team. Sources highlight the firm's excellent market understanding as a key attraction.
Sources say: "Depth and breadth of experience, in particular the fact that they can really bring inter-disciplinary teams to the table when we need them to. They are very accessible, responsive, everything you would want."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ann Milner is highly praised for her expertise in handling fund formation issues. She recently formed part of the team acting for Thomas H Lee Partners on the fundraising for its seventh fund.
Larry Jordan Rowe is known for his strength on both the investor and sponsor sides, regularly taking on work from large institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Harvard University. Clients appreciate that he is "very accessible and responsive."
Raj Marphatia recently relocated to the firm's Silicon Valley office, boosting its West Coast presence. His broad-based experience sees him cover a wide range of matters for clients, including advising sponsors on formation, operation and investment matters. He also advises institutional investors on a range of investment activity.
William McCormack's private funds experience covers the gamut of sponsor representations on both a domestic and an international basis, and is experienced across a variety of asset classes.
THE FIRM The strength of this practice is enhanced by the highly effective coordination of Weil's private funds expertise across the globe. The US-based team is able to offer clients comprehensive coverage of a huge range of fund types and industry participants, supplemented by extensive firmwide capabilities in tax, regulation and transactional activity. Key clients who have been attracted by this diverse offering include The Gores Group, Brookfield Asset Management and Berkshire Partners. The team's recent work includes assisting Berkshire Partners with the formation of a $4.5 billion buyout fund.
Sources say: "They are a very good firm, and you can see that they are right up there."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Barry Wolf impresses clients with his creative approach: "He looks for solutions as opposed to problems," noted one client. The Gores Group recently engaged him to work on its $300 million buyout fund focusing on lower middle market companies across a range of industries.
Founding member of the private funds team at Weil, Jeffrey Tabak is highly valued by clients. He is well versed in sponsor and investor-side representation, as well as corporate and securities matters.
Jonathon Soler is widely admired for the breadth of his practice. He handles high-value matters for private equity funds, investment firms and institutional investors. He is co-head of the private funds group.
Talented partner Shukie Grossman has lately represented key client Credit Suisse Group throughout the acquisition of an ownership interest in South American private equity firm Victoria Capital Partners.
THE FIRM Akin Gump is a well-recognized name among market sources, particularly in the emerging markets space. It has cultivated a leading practice focusing on the formation of and investment into Asia-based funds. The team is acclaimed for its work on the investor side, where notable names such as Oak Hill frequently seek out its advice. It is also growing in stature on the sponsor side, and was recently the recipient of a number of fund formation mandates from key industry players.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Prakash Mehta has been instrumental in the expansion of this group's investor-side practice of late, representing names such as Oak Hill Investment Management and Texas Teacher's Retirement System in high-value investment activity on a global basis.
THE FIRM The strategic expertise of this team continues to see it retained by sophisticated financial institution and fund sponsor clients. New domestic and international mandates on both the formation and investment side have kept this highly experienced bench busy of late, with noteworthy matters flowing from relationships with clients such as Fortress Investment Group, Goldman Sachs and Neuberger Berman. The team's dedicated approach to client service is particularly highlighted by sources.
Client Service "They are outstanding and responsive; they own the work that we give them. and I really feel like when you give them an assignment they treat it as if it were their own."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Lawrence Barshay is popular among industry peers, who acknowledge his strength in private equity funds matters as well as on the alternative asset management side. He is consistently engaged as counsel to some of the firm's most notable clients.
Kenneth Rosh "understands both sides of the market so he can advocate with a very calm, measured demeanor," according to one satisfied client. He heads the private equity fund formation group.
Richard Ansbacher operates out of the firm's DC office and spends much of his time advising domestic and international clients on formation and structuring issues. He demonstrates notable skill when handling matters with a global flavor.
The "excellent" David Shapiro adeptly handles a wide variety of asset management issues, and has particular experience in merger and acquisition transactions by private equity entities. "He knows our space very well," one interviewee enthuses.
THE FIRM This firm houses a skilled team that is capable of handling work across the full spectrum of private investment funds matters. Of late, lawyers have been involved in significant fundraising for buyout, distressed real estate, secondary and environmental infrastructure funds. Leonard Green & Partners, Investcorp and JPMorgan are all distinguished clients of the team, and lawyers are frequently enlisted by such names to assist on the full scope of regulatory, transactional and investment activity.
Sources say: "Their main strengths are their market knowledge and experience."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Cochair of the group Edward Sopher is a go-to attorney for "judgments on tricky questions," providing "pragmatism as well as protection, and business savvy responses." He works skillfully across a wide range of asset classes, and has a wealth of experience representing fund managers, sponsors and institutional investors.
Edward Nelson receives enthusiastic recommendations from sources, one of whom comments: "I would recommend him to absolutely any firm, large or small." His "fair-minded approach" draws particular praise.
THE FIRM Benefiting from a renowned international presence, this firm is engaged by many global players in the private equity sphere to advise upon fund formation as well as complex investment, structuring or transactional arrangements. The team has been highly active in the market this year, as is evidenced by its extensive deal list. Formations on behalf of Milestone Capital, Panda Power and Denham Capital Management, among others, have kept lawyers occupied of late.
Commercial Awareness "They really understand where the market is and provide good context." "The caliber of their attorneys was phenomenal."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Barton Clark is highly prized by his clients, one of whom describes him as "one of the most important individuals" to his company. A recent highlight saw him acting on behalf of Denham Capital Management on the formation of a $3 billion global energy fund.
Global practice cochair Scott Klein has lately been occupied on the formation of a $1 billion private equity fund for BDT Capital and is highly praised by sources for his expertise in funds creation.
THE FIRM This firm earns plaudits for its strong international capacity and its collaborative approach to working with counterparties. The team works effectively across the full range of private equity fund issues, including formation, structuring and regulation. It acts on behalf of prominent institutional investors as well as fund sponsors, and works closely with its accomplished tax, compliance and securities lawyers to provide a fully rounded service to its clients.
Sources say: "They are technically capable, great to deal with and very pleasant - they tick all of the boxes that we would want to see."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Scott Bowie is highly respected for his well-established private equity funds practice. He is able to advise across the board on investment management issues, and his reputation attracts some of the largest names in the industry onto his client roster.
Justin Storms continues to be a valuable member of the investment management group, gaining praise from market commentators for his expertise and skill in handling cross-border fund matters.
THE FIRM Morgan Lewis is praised by market sources as being a vibrant presence in the market, and hosts a significant institutional investor practice as well as considerable talent on the fund sponsor side. The team is highly appreciated by clients for its ability to tap into the wider resources of the firm and transform it into a one-stop shop for all their needs. Major clients such as Credit Suisse, CalPERS and Pantheon Ventures have all been attracted to the diversity and efficiency of this practice. The formation of secondary funds and fund of funds is a further key strength of the team here.
Sources say: "Their strengths include their knowledge and understanding of complex deal structures, and how best to achieve our objectives within these structures."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources particularly appreciate Louis Singer's dedication to client service and technical prowess in the private funds arena. He has overseen the formation of numerous funds and fund of funds as well as being heavily involved in the firm's strong investor-side practice.
Georgette Schaefer is relied upon by her clients to deal with highly complex matters, and is experienced across a range of transactional and regulatory matters impacting funds.
Peter Phleger stays abreast of current market trends through his extensive representations of sponsors and institutional investors. He also possesses particular expertise in secondary transactions.
THE FIRM The representation of highly active market players such as Ares Management, Adams Street Partners and Lexington Partners marks Proskauer Rose out as a solid contender in the fund formation space. Lawyers possess a strong grasp of the needs of their sponsor and institutional investor clients, garnered through a consistently healthy volume of mandates from both types of stakeholder. The breadth of this practice is held in high regard by clients, who know that they can rely on the team across the full spectrum of asset classes.
Sources say: "Due to their longstanding tenure in the space they have critical mass and a huge perspective of the market. The team I worked with was just so technically strong; brilliant lawyers."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robin Painter's client roster includes many significant industry players who frequently seek her perspective on a variety of private equity matters. She co-heads the firm's global private investment funds group.
THE FIRM Skadden's fund formation team continues to impress market observers, who praise the team's excellent coordination on both a cross-departmental and multijurisdictional basis. As part of the firm's wider investment management practice, its client roster features many notable industry names, including Deutsche Bank and AXA Private Equity. Its recent highlights include acting on the formation of a $200 million Brazilian private equity fund for Graycliff Partners. Clients further appreciate the heavyweight tax and ERISA support available to them.
Sources say: "The team at Skadden is incredibly well integrated with other specialties and can anticipate issues that may arise."
KEY INDIVIDUALS John Caccia is held in high regard for his expertise in fund formation and transactional matters for investors and sponsors. He is lauded for his "good strategic advice" and keen understanding of the space.
THE FIRM This international firm offers strength in handling regulatory developments in the private funds industry both in the USA and in Europe. As well as forming funds and advising on structures and operations for key clients, the team offers a comprehensive overview of compliance with new regulations. Its lawyers are recognized for their strength in the niche of private equity real estate and for their proactivity in keeping ahead of the curve in terms of market knowledge.
Sources say: "They have excellent market knowledge and are able to provide up-to-date and relevant advice on the latest developments and key issues."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Described by one source as a "walking encyclopedia of knowledge," Roger Singer attracts positive commentary on his legal and commercial acumen. He is a "great businessperson's attorney" whose receptive and forward-thinking approach is highly valued by clients.
THE FIRM This group continues to work with an impressive proportion of highly active funds clients, including the likes of Neuberger Berman, Pantheon Ventures and The Hampshire Companies. It has also attracted several new clients of late, with sources citing the breadth of practice and the firm's international capacity as strong factors in its favor. The firm's vibrant secondaries practice adds to its solid reputation among industry players.
Sources say: "Across a wide variety of issues, they have a very good understanding of the law and business. They provide very good business-oriented advice and are keenly attuned to the business needs of a transaction or structure."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Accomplished attorney Loretta Shaw-Lorello is commended for her "client-focused" approach as well as her excellent knowledge of fund practices and terms. She is picked out as an effective negotiator who regularly handles sophisticated work on behalf of her clients.
THE FIRM DLA Piper's private funds group is admired for its wide-ranging and practical approach to the gamut of issues faced by its clients. Of late, the team has experienced an uptick in the volume of work received from institutional investors such as Gávea Investimentos, Korea Investment Corporation and Arbor Investments. Lawyers were recently engaged by the latter to act on a lower middle market buyout fund, which closed at $400 million. The firm's extensive global network allows the team to call upon the support of transactional, tax and regulatory experts around the world in order to best assist its clients.
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "extremely knowledgeable" David Goldstein spearheads the department, and is responsible for some of the team's largest matters. His recent work includes acting for Gávea Investimentos in the $2 billion final closing of its fourth fund.
THE FIRM This firm remains a solid choice for both fund sponsor and investor clients, and offers an impressive breadth of practice. Attorneys have gained experience across the whole range of private investment vehicles, and are noted for the excellent value proposition they provide. Real estate funds remain a key specialty of this Boston-headquartered practice.
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Watson chairs the firm's private investment funds practice, and is a key contact for the group.
THE FIRM Mayer Brown maintains a solid reputation in the market. It is experienced in forming funds for a diverse range of clients, from major fund managers to banks and insurance companies. Cohesive integration between practices is a strong component of its fund formation offering, with support drawn from solid corporate and securities, tax and ERISA departments across multiple jurisdictions. The team's experience extends across the full spectrum of fund types, including infrastructure and agriculture funds alongside more traditional private equity offerings.
Sources say: "A good firm with a broad team of accomplished lawyers."
KEY INDIVIDUALS John Noell is a key contact at the firm.
THE FIRM This team is credited for its high levels of activity representing institutional investors in many of the world's most important financial centers. Its sponsor-side practice is also gaining traction in the market, supported by considerable talent on ERISA issues facing public and private pension funds. The team is popular with clients, who highlight the experience and in-depth market knowledge of its accomplished bench.
Commercial Awareness "They've been very helpful; they have a broad range of clients both on the investor side, and on the fund formation side and that helped to bring a sense of what the market really is."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Charles Jacobs offers tailored advice to his clients and "really takes the time to understand the whole business." He is further praised for his responsive and extensive market experience.
John Koeppel "really has a sense of how to advise us from a business perspective," according to one impressed interviewee. He chairs the firm's private equity and investment funds group.
THE FIRM This team is highly experienced in forming innovative and high-value real estate funds for sponsors such as Perella Weinberg, Prudential Real Estate Investors and Apollo Global Real Estate. Lawyers have substantial expertise in this niche, and also demonstrate strong technical ability when acting on funds with other investment strategies, including buyout and infrastructure funds. The team is also frequently enlisted to advise upon regulatory changes impacting the private funds industry.
Sources say: "The team is highly motivated to do whatever it takes to get your matter handled in a satisfactory manner and has good bench strength."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Identified by one client as "outstanding in all respects," Joshua Sternoff's "main strength is the ability to navigate through complex situations." He has lately been active on a number of private equity real estate matters for clients such as Artemis Real Estate Partners and Prudential Real Estate Investors.
Carl de Brito cochairs Dechert LLP's private equity fund formation group and maintains an impressively varied practice. He has a good reputation for his work counseling public and private companies.
Co-head of the group at Hogan Lovells US LLP, David Winter is a "really good asset" to his clients, according to market feedback. He recently acted for Bluestone Capital Partners on the formation of a government services-focused fund.
Stephen Culhane has continued to impress sources since his move to Kaye Scholer LLP. One commentator describes him as "a good quality fund formation lawyer," whose thoughtfulness and skill has attracted the business of clients such as MSouth Equity Partners and AXA Real Estate Investment Management.
The "exceptional" Joseph Smith of Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP is well liked by both peers and clients, and is described as a "pleasure to work with." His recent work has included acting for DRA Advisors in the formation of a $1 billion private equity fund and other related matters.
Laura Friedrich of Shearman & Sterling LLP has this year been involved in fund formations for high-profile clients such as Citi Private Bank, GTIS Partners and NGP Energy Capital Management.
Timothy Clark of Sidley Austin LLP is praised for his "experience, credibility and track record," impressing market sources with his expertise.
Sarah Rothermel of WilmerHale is lauded for her "very customer and business-oriented" approach. She is a talented fund formation lawyer with a particular focus on the representation of venture capitalists.