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Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

New York

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP - New York
  • 919 Third Avenue
  • New York
  • New York
  • USA
  • NY 10022
  • Tel:+1 212 909 6000
  • Fax:+1 212 909 6836
  • Email:Contact Us
  • Web:Visit website
  • Managing Partner: Michael W Blair
  • Number of partners (worldwide): 142
  • Number of other lawyers (worldwide): 500
  • Languages: Aramaic, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin and Shanghainese), Czech, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malayalam, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Ukrainian, Urdu
  • INTERNATIONAL OFFICES Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Moscow, Paris, Shanghai

Firm Overview:
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP was founded in 1931 with the goal of offering sophisticated legal services. They maintain this tradition of seeking excellence in a comprehensive, modern practice that spans the Americas, Europe and Asia. The firm’s lawyers are responsive, thoughtful, ethical and vigorous advocates with a substantive understanding of their clients’ business needs and the many market places in which they compete. Debevoise has leading practices that often have a cross border focus due to the firm’s international approach to the practice of law. Debevoise places the highest value on collaboration and interdisciplinary cooperation in order to provide clients with seamless representation across practice areas and across continents. They represent multinational, US and non-US industrial and commercial companies, private equity sponsors, financial institutions including insurance companies, investment companies, banks and broker-dealers, and individuals in a comprehensive range of assignments.

Main Areas of Practice:

The firm’s Corporate Department’s work spans the full range of general corporate, transactional and regulatory representations. Their practice includes mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, leveraged finance, business restructuring and workouts, real estate, project finance, equipment finance, structured finance, asset management, intellectual property and environmental law. They have an exceptionally strong track record advising private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies, as well as clients in the media and telecommunications, banking, insurance and energy industries.

The firm’s Litigation Department handles complex matters in courts in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and elsewhere, as well as before arbitration tribunals, agencies and administrative bodies worldwide.T he Department includes the Chair, Mary Jo White, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York; John S Kiernan, Co-Chair of the Department; Michael B Mukasey, former United States Attorney General and Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York; Lord (Peter) Goldsmith QC, PC, the European and Asian Chair of Litigation who served as the UK’s Attorney General; 8 former Assistant U.S. Attorneys, including a former Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury for Enforcement and a former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York; and a former Associate Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement. Debeviose is the only law firm to include former Attorneys General of both the U.S. and the UK, as well as a Queen’s Counsel. Areas of concentration include securities litigation, white collar crime, investigations, antitrust, bankruptcy, general commercial litigation, international dispute resolution, insurance industry disputes, intellectual property and media, and products liability.

Tax & Employee Benefits:
The firm’s Tax Department works closely with their corporate lawyers in structuring complex transactions. The department also focuses on tax planning and advice for business entities, high net worth individuals and exempt organizations and includes an active executive compensation and employee benefits practice.

International Work:
Asia: Debevoise’s Hong Kong and Shanghai offices, with over 20 lawyers, are active throughout China and the Asia- Pacific region. Their corporate team in Asia handles in cross-border investments, formation and deployment of private equity funds, telecommunications and other joint ventures, US securities offerings, general corporate counseling. The firm’s litigation and arbitration team in Asia handles international dispute resolution, litigation, white collar and internal investigations matters. Their lawyers in Asia represent multi-national companies, private equity sponsors and other investment funds in a broad range of strategic and financial investments throughout Asia.

Debevoise’s London office has approximately 90 lawyers. Its practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, capital markets transactions, financings and private equity, as well as general corporate and tax matters. It has a strong international arbitration and litigation team. The firm’s Paris office has approximately 25 lawyers. Its practice includes domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, capital markets transactions, financings and private equity, as well as EU competition law, general corporate and tax matters and international arbitration. The Frankfurt office has more than 10 lawyers. The practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, capital markets transactions, financings and private equity, as well as general corporate and tax matters. The firm’s Moscow office has more than 25 lawyers who focus on capital markets transactions, mergers and acquisitions, natural resource projects, financings, as well as general corporate and tax matters.

Latin America:
Debevoise has been active in Latin America for nearly 50 years and over the past decade has worked on hundreds of completed transactions in the region, including some of the largest and most challenging projects. The firm is a recognized leader among international law firms active in Latin America. Their recent work in the Latin American private equity/fund formation, project finance, media and financial service sectors, as well as their litigation and arbitration practice in the region, has further solidified the firm’s reputation. The firm’s client base includes many of the most prominent companies and families in Latin America as well as multinational corporations and private equity funds investing in the region.

Areas of Practice

  • Capital Markets
  • Corporate
  • Financial Institutions
  • Intellectual Property/Corporate
  • Intellectual Property/Litigation
  • International Arbitration
  • International Corporate
  • Investigation
  • Litigation
  • Media & Technology
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Private Equity/Fund Formation
  • Private Equity/M&A
  • Products Liability
  • Securities Litigation
  • Tax
  • White-Collar Crime


  • 555 13th Street NW,
  • Washington, DC,
  • District of Columbia
  • USA
  • 20004
  • Tel +1 202 383 8000
  • Fax +1 202 383 8118
  • Email : mailbox@debevoise.com

Advertising - Nationwide

THE FIRM The advertising department at this international firm continues to be a major player in litigation, assisting an array of prominent clients in this field. The team is involved in all forms of advertising litigation, representing clients before federal and state courts, the FTC, NAD and NARB. Top clients include Nestlé, Prada and L'Oréal USA. Recent highlights include acting for Bayer HealthCare in front of the NAD, NARB and FTC in a case concerning Merial's advertising campaign for Frontline Plus.

Sources say: "The quality of the lawyers is first-rate."

KEY INDIVIDUALS David Bernstein is a "rising star" in advertising litigation. He recently acted for Velcera Pharmaceuticals on a challenge brought before the NAD relating to false comparative claims made by a competitor, and on the preliminary injunction phase of a dispute between competing manufacturers of flea and tick control products.

Banking & Finance - Nationwide

THE FIRM This firm is highly regarded for its proficient representation of private equity clients in the leveraged finance market. It has a healthy following, regularly attracting work from some of the most active financial sponsors in the market, including The Carlyle Group, Clayton Dubilier & Rice and Providence Equity Partners. This year the firm also represented regular client Reynolds Group Holdings in its $3.25 billion notes offering, which was one of the largest single-tranche issues in the high-yield market in recent years. The firm is also active in the aviation finance space where it is recognized for its enduring relationships with multiple airlines, whom it represents across a full range of transactions.

Client Service "They are responsive, very user-friendly and customer-focused." "Their work standard is exceptionally high - they have a great deal of resources and are very client sensitive. We need good legal advice but also have to focus on how clients interact with us and they are top notch at that - they are very sensitive and cognizant of what our clients think."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Seasoned practitioner William Beekman is noted for being "detail-oriented, creative and well versed in market transactions."

Paul Brusiloff "has excellent client focus and is great at bringing a process together," report impressed interviewees. He focuses on complex debt and equity financings, as well as refinancings, recapitalizations and restructurings.

David Brittenham garners significant praise from interviewees: "He is extremely knowledgeable and brings practical experience - it's very valuable to have such a strong advocate." He recently represented The Carlyle Group in the financings aspects of the $3.3 billion acquisition of Getty Images.

John Curry is an admirable presence in aviation finance. Sources say: "He is a high-quality, intelligent and analytical lawyer." He continues to work with American Airlines, and is advising it on the financing aspects of an aviation order where committed finance amounted to $13 billion.

New addition to the rankings Jeffrey Ross is highly valued by clients in the private equity sphere and is described as "commercial, practical, extraordinarily responsive, smart and creative."

Bankruptcy/Restructuring - Nationwide

THE FIRM This business restructuring and workout practice represents a full range of debtor and creditor clients. The group is based in New York and is particularly renowned for its expertise in the airline and insurance sectors. The team took the spotlight with its recent representation of institutional client American Airlines, as special aircraft financing counsel, in the bankruptcy proceedings of AMR.

Sources say: "The Debevoise team is always extremely well-prepared and they think about every detail. They are very responsive, creative and give well thought-out responses to difficult questions."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Richard Hahn is cochair of Debevoise's business restructuring and workouts practice. He recently led as special aircraft financing counsel to American Airlines in to the bankruptcy of parent company AMR. "He is a very measured and objective lawyer," report sources. 

Capital Markets - Nationwide

THE FIRM This team maintains a strong and growing profile for its representation of corporations and financial institutions in the full spectrum of debt and equity transactions. It recently represented The Carlyle Group in the $274.5 million secondary offering of common stock in Triumph Group. Other key clients at this firm include Access Industries, Booz Allen Hamilton and Morgan Stanley.

Sources say: "They are deeply expert, get the job done and are user-friendly."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Peter Loughran is "smart and knowledgeable" and a "hard worker" with "good judgment," sources say. He is held in high esteem by both issuers and underwriters. Recent highlights include representing The ServiceMaster Company in its $600 million offering of 8% senior notes due 2020.

David Brittenham is a "proactive thinker who is able to offer solutions" and is "helpful in bringing practical knowledge" to transactions. He represented HD Supply in its notes offerings totaling $2.382 billion.

Steven Slutzky recently advised Reynolds Group on its $1.25 billion offering of 9.875% senior notes due 2019. He frequently represents issuers and underwriters in transactions such as IPOs, secondary offerings, private placements and debt offerings.

Corporate/M&A - Nationwide

THE FIRM Debevoise excels in high-end transactional activity, with an impressive client roster composed largely of private equity firms, corporations and financial institutions. Its international profile augments its standing in the US market, attracting distinguished global players such as Amazon.com and Verizon. Private equity powerhouse The Carlyle Group recently engaged the group as counsel on its $3.3 billion acquisition of Getty Images.

Client Service "They really are a true partnership; they really believe that a client of the firm is a client of the whole firm, so other partners are able to step in and handle the matter in a seamless way."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Experienced New York partner Jeffrey Rosen heads the corporate group here.

Energy & Natural Resources - Nationwide

THE FIRM This team includes attorneys who are skilled in the full range of corporate metals and mining work, advising domestic and international clients on a range of transactional matters including M&A, securities offerings, project financings and joint ventures. In one standout matter, the team represented Mitsui in the granting of a $5.8 billion short-term loan to leading copper manufacturer CODELCO. The group also has a heavyweight power practice which attracts a highly prestigious client base, including names such as Tenaska and the US Department of Energy (DOE). The team is currently assisting the latter with $1.6 billion in loan guarantees on three solar power plants. Its workload also includes oil and gas advice to industry giants including ExxonMobil and Mobil Oil.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Peers "think very highly" of Sarah Fitts, who has a sterling reputation for her extensive experience in M&A transactional, restructuring and projects work. She was part of the team dealing with the big-ticket Mitsui matter above.

Financial Services Regulation - Nationwide

THE FIRM Debevoise & Plimpton's thriving financial services practice is underpinned by its status as go-to regulatory counsel for organizations in the insurance industry. The team, which includes a large contingent of regulatory alumni, is noted for its business-focused and strategic compliance advice on both a domestic and international level. The team advises a wide array of industry associations and their members in relation to regulatory changes in the USA and abroad including the Financial Services Roundtable and Risk Management Association. Additionally, the team maintains an active practice in the financial institutions M&A arena and has represented Goldman Sachs and AIG in recent high-level transactions.

Client Service "They are knowledgeable, thoughtful, flexible and solution-oriented. They have been willing to help in a variety of ways, based on our needs. I appreciate the insights they provide, whether we’re working on a major matter or seeking a discrete piece of advice."

Commercial Awareness "Debevoise is a leading firm in financial services regulation. The firm includes many former regulators and is adept at understanding the nuances of federal and state regulatory agencies. They are on the cutting edge of regulatory advisory and transactional work."

KEY INDIVIDUALS "I appreciate that Paul Lee is intelligent and very detailed, really understands the issues and has historical perspective. He also has credibility with the regulators, Capitol Hill and other people in the industry," explains one source. Lee has been involved in advising a number of leading international financial institutions including American Express, Credit Suisse and Prudential Financial on compliance issues and the impact of ongoing regulatory reforms.

Gregory Lyons has a broad financial services practice and "deep regulatory and transactional knowledge," according to sources. He recently represented Admirals Bank in a joint venture agreement regarding the $1 billion purchase of distressed loans.

Satish Kini is "a trusted adviser who is thoughtful, strategic, responsive and extremely knowledgeable," and whose expertise is relied upon for "many sensitive and significant matters." He advises a wide range of financial institutions on strategic regulatory matters including guidance on the ongoing Dodd-Frank reforms.

Nicholas Potter has a strong transactional practice. He has advised a number of significant corporations on regulatory and transactional matters, including CIGNA and Goldman Sachs.

John Vasily is considered to be an "exceptional" transactional and M&A lawyer. He has a strong international practice and advised AIG on its sale of Nan Shan Life Insurance to Ruen Chen Investment for $2.16 billion.

Insurance - Nationwide

THE FIRM This established New York M&A firm is one of the nationwide leaders in transactional and regulatory insurance matters. Sources particularly highlight its commanding position in the life insurance sector, illustrated by its work for Prudential Financial in the acquisition of The Hartford's individual life insurance business. In another significant deal, the team advised on Goldman Sachs Reinsurance Group's acquisition of Ariel Holdings' Bermuda-based reinsurance operations.

Commercial Awareness "They are strong in industry knowledge, and in transactional skills and experience."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Peers strongly praise Nicholas Potter, who "thinks in the right way about the transaction and the clients." His work is highly respected in the life insurance and fund areas. His clients include Prudential Financial and Pan-American Life Insurance.

Thomas Kelly is described by one source as a "strong, thoughtful and well-rounded insurance-focused transactional lawyer." He has assisted the Principal Financial Group in its $1.5 billion acquisition of Chilean pension manager Cuprum.

Of counsel Wolcott Dunham is considered by many to be "the dean of transactional work" in New York, and a lawyer who has "heavily influenced and shaped law in demutualization." 

Intellectual Property - Nationwide

THE FIRM Based primarily in the firm's New York offices, Debevoise & Plimpton has a celebrated practice in anti-counterfeiting, copyright, trade dress and trademark law, attracting high-value and innovative work. Its impressive client roster includes Yves Saint Laurent, Disney and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The team recently advised Prada regarding the luxury brand's campaign to block sales of counterfeit and gray market goods via discount stores and websites.

Client Service "They are pleasant and responsive and they really value service to the client."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Bruce Keller and David Bernstein lead the IP litigation group. 

International Arbitration - Nationwide

THE FIRM The international arbitration group at Debevoise enjoys impressive levels of success in its commercial and investment treaty arbitration practice. The practice is held in the highest regard by clients and peers alike for its depth of knowledge and strong global reach. The talented team obtained a $1.77 billion award plus interest on behalf of Occidental, which was seeking damages against the Republic of Ecuador, in one of the most high-profile ICSID arbitrations of recent times. It also counts Tethyan Copper, Perenco and ExxonMobil among its distinguished client base.

Client Service "The work product is stellar: the team is incredibly attentive, works with a common-sense approach and is extremely helpful in dealing with legal and political strategies. Top of the heap - first-class."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Donald Francis Donovan maintains a preeminent reputation as an arbitrator and advocate, and is described by market sources as "extremely knowledgeable" and "hands-on, accessible, client-friendly and extremely hard-working." 

Dietmar Prager enters the rankings backed by significant praise for his expertise in Latin America-based work, with sources claiming: "In the near future he will be one of the best lawyers working with matters involving Brazil." Clients speak highly of his qualities, saying: "He's dynamic, intelligent, accessible and knowledgeable." 

David Rivkin has extensive experience in serving as counsel and arbitrator, and demonstrates a particular aptitude for complex, high-stakes disputes. Sources report: "He has a huge presence in the courtroom and his advocacy skills are without parallel." He was lead partner on the aforementioned matter for Occidental.

Mark Friedman has an impressive track record of success as an advocate, with his representation of Perenco Ecuador in a $3.5 billion ICSID arbitration against Ecuador being among his recent highlights. He elicits praise for his "in-depth knowledge of disputes and corporate and commercial issues," and is also commended for "implementing strategies in the most efficient, top-quality way." 

Catherine Amirfar particularly impresses clients with her cross-examination skills. She recently began representing Grupo Diniz in an ICC arbitration. She is praised for her "very proactive and experienced" approach to matters.  

Investment Funds - 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."

Investment Funds - Nationwide

THE FIRM This firm houses a robust registered funds practice that consistently garners wide acclaim from industry insiders. By virtue of its extensive connections within the funds industry, the team maintains an enviable client base, including BlackRock, HarbourVest Partners and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. Attorneys at Debevoise are highlighted for their experience in representing independent directors, as well as their ability to efficiently pool expertise with other practices within the firm. 

KEY INDIVIDUALS Kenneth Berman maintains a "tremendous reputation" within the registered funds sphere. His practice focuses on the representation of financial services clients, to which he offers regulatory and compliance guidance.

Private Equity - Nationwide

THE FIRM This prominent private equity practice is highly regarded in the marketplace, and has enjoyed a busy year handling a large volume of significant transactions for high-profile clients. With a deep bench of attorneys, the group is well equipped to tackle complex and sophisticated private equity matters. This is exemplified by its recent representation of Access Industries and a consortium of firms in its $7.15 billion acquisition of energy producer El Paso.

Client Service "The quality and consistency of their lawyers and their service is distinguished. They do a good job of integrating their practices and making themselves easy to work with. They present a very efficient legal solution for a PE firm."

Commercial Awareness "Debevoise has a broad and deep understanding of our business. They help us manage risk, and they help us capitalize on the opportunities we develop. We view our relationship with Debevoise as a true partnership between client and counsel."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Franci Blassberg is recognized as "one of the deans of the private equity legal community." She receives high praise from sources, with one client commenting: "Her good judgment and creativity have helped us navigate many novel and interesting transactions over the years." Blassberg recently counseled Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in its sale of Diversey Holdings to Sealed Air, valued at $4.3 billion.

Peggy Davenport has "very good business sense," and recently led the team advising Kelso & Company on numerous investments. One client notes: "She knows what's important to us, and is an effective lawyer and negotiator for us."

Recent highlights for Paul Bird include handling the $3.3 billion acquisition of Getty Images for prestigious private equity firm The Carlyle Group. Interviewees praise his abilities, commenting: "He had great judgment as well as an even-handed approach and demeanor, which serve him – and his clients – very well."

The "smart, efficient and thoughtful" Kevin Schmidt recently led the team advising healthcare organization Oceana Therapeutics on its sale to Salix Pharmaceuticals. Clients appreciate that he "works hard and gets it all done, knows what's important to us, and has good business sense."

Jeffrey Rosen is hailed by one commentator as "one of the best lawyers I've ever known. He is phenomenally intelligent." He recently represented The TCW Group in connection with its sale to The Carlyle Group.

Projects - Nationwide

THE FIRM Debevoise is an internationally renowned projects firm that has a strong reputation for PPP work. On the project finance side, the team has recently been representing Mitsui in connection with a joint venture transaction involving a $1.8 billion financing. In the past year, the firm has attracted numerous sophisticated clients, including Footprint Power, Sithe Global and the US Department of Energy. Clients praise the team for its creativity and deep industry knowledge.

Sources say: "They are very good. They have great experience in representing clients in project finance matters." 

KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients continue to heap praise on the "very smart" Ivan Mattei. A recognized expert within the PPP community, he is applauded for being "very strong technically, with a good analytical and commercial understanding."

Real Estate - Nationwide

THE FIRM This firm's real estate practice group offers expertise across a broad range of matters, including joint venture investments, financings, workouts and restructurings. It has significant experience advising on the sales and acquisitions of major shopping centers, hotels and office buildings. In highlights, the team acted for Rockefeller Group International on its acquisition of San Francisco's 50 Beale Street, in a joint venture with Mitsubishi Estate New York. Other notable clients include the Westfield Group, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Beacon Capital Partners.

Sources say: "I've never encountered anyone as responsive as they are."

KEY INDIVIDUALS The team's main contact is Peter Irwin in New York.

Securities - Nationwide

THE FIRM Sources emphasize this firm's strength across both securities litigation and regulatory matters. The firm fields a combined securities practice and covers a full spectrum of advice for financial institutions, public companies, individual executives and boards of trustees and directors. It has a robust enforcement practice which has earned the respect of the industry for its handling of a number of key matters. The team defends MetLife and a number of its current and former directors in multiple cases relating to an industrywide investigation into the alleged use of false data. It also acts for the former CEO and chairman of Bank of America on litigation concerning the bank's acquisition of Merrill Lynch. Shortly before going to press Mary Jo White, one of the luminaries of the white-collar criminal defense and securities enforcement space, was confirmed by the Senate as the next chair of the SEC.  

Client Service "I have never worked with better partners in my life. They are extremely responsive, extremely knowledgeable and able to see the big picture. They make you feel like the number-one client."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Experienced securities litigator Jonathan Tuttle represents clients in regulatory investigations and enforcement actions and is an expert in accounting violations. Sources say he is "flawless in his execution and attention to detail."

Paul Berger is valued for his insider understanding of the regulatory process. Sources consider him to be "one of the most experienced securities practitioners, with great attention to detail, encyclopedic knowledge of anticorruption practices and a broad knowledge base."

Sports Law - Nationwide

THE FIRM Led by the excellent Bruce Keller, Debevoise's sports practice is a strong player in IP-related sports law, particularly in matters relating to trademark and copyright infringement. It acts for some of the major sports leagues, including the NFL, which it represents in several litigation matters concerning the use of players' identities by NFL Films after their retirement.

Sources say: "An extremely highly skilled group."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Bruce Keller is at the forefront of IP-related sports law, with sources praising him as a "widely respected" lawyer and "one of the most knowledgeable privacy and IP players." He advised the Brooklyn Nets on advertising and on updating the team's mascot.

Tax - Nationwide

THE FIRM This New York-based firm has a superb international practice, with an excellent reputation for cutting-edge tax advice in both domestic and cross-border transactions. It provides tax counsel on a broad range of subjects, including private equity and hedge fund formations, joint ventures and project finance. The firm is currently acting as special aircraft counsel to American Airlines, and also represented The Carlyle Group in its $3.3 billion acquisition of Getty Images. Other key clients include Kelso & Company, Access Industries/Warner Music, and International Paper. 

Sources say: "They have terrific tax expertise that is very proactive and very effective."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice group chair Burt Rosen is based in New York.

Transportation - Nationwide

THE FIRM Domestic airline representation and bankruptcy work form the mainstays of the aviation practice at this firm. The team advised American Airlines on its high-profile Chapter 11 case, a matter that involved restructuring of financing arrangements for more than 1,000 aircraft. Other key clients include Delta Air Lines.

Sources say: "They do a quality job."

KEY INDIVIDUALS John Curry heads up the firm's aviation practice. His transactional capabilities include secured lending and complex financings in connection with aircraft. He acted as the lead lawyer on the American Airlines restructuring. Sources were quick to describe him as "a high-quality, intelligent, capable and analytical lawyer." 

Antitrust - New York

THE FIRM This firm covers a range of antitrust work including matters relating to M&A and civil antitrust litigation. It recently represented The Rank Group in a series of substantial acquisitions across a variety of manufacturing industries. It also acted for International Paper in its $4.3 billion acquisition of Temple-Inland.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Antitrust practitioner Daniel Abuhoff is known by peers as a skilled litigator. He represented both The Rank Group and International Paper in the matters mentioned above.

Gary Kubek is seen by clients as a knowledgeable and responsive lawyer. He acted for Schneider in its $2 billion acquisition of software company Telvent.

Bankruptcy/Restructuring - New York

THE FIRM Debevoise & Plimpton's business restructuring and workouts group represents a full range of clients, including debtors, creditors and equity groups in distressed asset acquisitions. It also boasts particular expertise in the airline and insurance industries, continuing to advise American Airlines as special aircraft financing counsel in the AMR bankruptcy.

Sources say: "The Debevoise team is always extremely well prepared, and they think about every detail. They are very responsive, creative, and give well thought-out responses to difficult questions."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Group cochair Richard Hahn "is extremely knowledgeable, and has an upstanding demeanor in negotiations," according to sources, who also note that "he is a very measured and objective lawyer." He has experienced a successful year, and recently led on behalf of American Airlines as special aircraft financing counsel.

The "unflappable" My Chi To possesses an "impressive set of credentials and experiences," say interviewees, adding that "she serves clients extremely well." She is currently playing a leading role for Oriental Trading in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

Corporate/M&A - New York

THE FIRM The team at Debevoise & Plimpton maintains its high standing following another year of top-drawer transactions and wide market commendation. With over 30 partners dedicated to M&A, the group capably handles large-scale deals for the likes of Amazon.com, The Carlyle Group and AIG. It advised Warner Music Group-owned Access Industries, as part of a consortium of acquirers, on its acquisition of $7.5 billion oil and gas exploration assets from El Paso. Verizon also sought Debevoise's counsel on its $3.6 billion acquisition of AWS spectrum licenses from SpectrumCo.

Sources say: "A fine first team and a deep bench." "Their ability to win points is valuable to me."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Jeffrey Rosen chairs the corporate department and is "very knowledgeable, insightful and experienced with public company transactions," according to interviewees. Recent transactions include representing LA asset manager the TCW Group in its sale to The Carlyle Group.

Paul Bird cochairs the firm's corporate and M&A departments. His recent transactions include handling The Carlyle Group's $3.3 billion acquisition of Getty Images.

William Regner chairs the M&A group. Clients say he "has a keen understanding of the dynamics of public company deals," and "superb negotiating and drafting" skills. He recently led a team acting on Verizon Wireless's $3.6 billion acquisition of AWS spectrum licenses from SpectrumCo.

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation - New York

THE FIRM This highly regarded group works with both public and private companies on employee benefits and executive compensation. The firm has significant experience relating to transactions as well as ongoing business issues, including proxy statement disclosure, corporate governance and enforcement. Recent work includes advising The Carlyle Group on its $3.3 billion acquisition of Getty Images from the Hellman & Friedman private equity group.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Lawrence Cagney chairs the group, focusing on the creation of compensation plans for senior executives. He acts for individuals, boards and compensation committees, as well as for both public and private companies. He recently advised the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia on a new employment agreement with the group's founder and namesake.

Jon Lewis advises on executive compensation with a focus on management equity agreements. He recently advised Clayton, Dubilier & Rice on its acquisition of David's Bridal.

Environment - New York

THE FIRM The team at Debevoise & Plimpton offers vital support to the firm's corporate group, advising on all the environmental aspects of financings, M&A transactions and securities offerings. In one recent highlight, it represented International Paper in connection with its $4.3 billion acquisition of Texas-based manufacturer Temple-Inland. Other notable clients include Diamond Castle Holdings, Kelso & Company, and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

Sources say: "A fine firm."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Stuart Hammer wins praise from sources, who comment that "he's great to work with, very quick and very responsive." Hammer was recently part of a team acting for Reynolds Group and Rank Group on more than $15 billion of transactions, including the $6 billion acquisition of Pactiv. 

Insurance - New York

THE FIRM As well as remaining a driving force in the insurance transactional and regulatory space, Debevoise also has a solid presence in dispute resolution on behalf of insurers. Clients praise the high level of service and attention they receive from its attorneys. The team's client list contains major names like AXA, Goldman Sachs, Manulife, Prudential and John Hancock Life Insurance. Recent highlights include counseling Goldman Sachs Reinsurance Group in its acquisition of the Bermuda-based reinsurance operations of Ariel Holdings.

Sources say: "Their work is stellar and their lawyers - from senior ones to associates - are all extremely intelligent, very smart tactically and excellent analytically."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Peers and clients alike enjoy working with Nicholas Potter, who is said to be "a good lawyer and a nice guy." His work concentrates on life insurance and related M&A. He led the aforementioned Goldman Sachs transaction.

Corporate partner Thomas Kelly assists insurers in capital markets and M&A transactions. He is described by one source as "a strong, thoughtful and well-rounded insurance-focused transactional lawyer."

Edwin Schallert is known as a go-to lawyer for complex life insurance issues. He has recently represented Prudential and Manulife in multiple matters arising out of the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Experienced litigator Robert Goodman recently acted for Travelers on the asbestos-related bankruptcy of Pittsburgh Corning. He has also dealt with mortgage insurance policy and captive insurance matters for JPMorgan Chase. 

Wolcott Dunham is considered "the dean of the New York insurance Bar." He remains one of the most influential names in the insurance M&A world.

Intellectual Property - New York

THE FIRM This firm's New York-based IP offering extends to the full range of IP rights and legal scenarios, from prosecution through transactional and due diligence work to litigation, although it is in the domain of copyright, trademarks and trade secrets that it is most celebrated. Within that domain, high-profile and business-critical litigation is a major forte of the team, although this should not detract from its excellent reputation for noncontentious work.

Sources say: "A sophisticated, high-value and well-balanced practice."

KEY INDIVIDUALS David Bernstein commands "tremendous respect" as a litigator among clients and across his profession. He has experience in cases involving anticounterfeiting, copyright, contested domain names, false advertising, and trademark, trade secret and trade dress infringement.

Bruce Keller is a "terrific trial lawyer and knows his area very well," according to one market-leading client. Head of the IP litigation practice at the firm, his work straddles IP and entertainment law, and typically consists of matters regarding copyrights, false advertising, rights of publicity and trademarks.  

Latin American Investment - New York

THE FIRM This firm's institutional strength in private equity matters carries over into its work in Latin America, while the firm is also active in a select number of high-value M&A and capital markets matters. It recently advised regular client Globo Comunicação e Participações, of Brazil, on a $300 million offering of senior notes, and on the partial sale of SKY Brasil to DIRECTV. The team also advised Ambev on its indirect acquisition of Cervecería Nacional Dominicana.

Sources say: "An excellent firm."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Corporate partners Michael Gillespie and Gregory Gooding frequently represent the firm's established Latin American clients in high-value M&A transactions.

Project finance and infrastructure group chair Ivan Mattei has particularly notable experience in toll road transactions in Chile, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Litigation - New York

THE FIRM This leading group is highly commended for its ability to handle high-value litigation and arbitration for a notable roster of clients. It is renowned for its expertise in white-collar criminal investigations, and its skill set encompasses all areas of securities and commercial litigation. Sources particularly highlight the group's dedication to client service, and the deep bench of experts available in a wide range of practice areas. Its recent highlights include representing the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in defending a suit brought by AIG shareholder Starr International. Other clients include Shell, Deloitte and the NFL. Shortly before going to press Mary Jo White, one of the luminaries of the white-collar criminal defense and securities enforcement spaces, was confirmed by the Senate as the next chair of the SEC.

Sources say: "I have been very pleased with their quality of work, strong commercial acumen and pragmatism." "They put so much emphasis on client service that when I call and ask for something, they will work day and night until it is done. Responsiveness has been ingrained into their psyche."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Bruce Yannett is a "well-respected expert in the FCPA field," praised for his ability to "clearly translate the depth of his expertise and experience into workable and pragmatic advice that takes into account client operations and commercial concerns." His practice covers a range of matters within the white-collar criminal defense arena.

Sean Hecker is "extremely knowledgeable and very practical," say sources, and is "really intelligent and strategic" in his handling of white-collar criminal matters.

John Kiernan is highly valued for his impressive breadth of litigation expertise, and handles complex commercial disputes for a range of national and international clients. Sources particularly praise his "incredibly well-prepared" approach to trial, and highlight his "excellent oral advocacy."  

Maura Monaghan is a new entry to the rankings, and is praised for her commercial litigation practice. She is considered a "really good strategist," whose "very high-level analytical skills" merit particular acclaim. Her expertise also extends to product liability disputes.

Matthew Fishbein is praised for his "great wealth of experience" in white-collar criminal defense work. He is "a fierce defender who is very passionate about what he does, and is a very strong advocate," say sources. 

Media & Entertainment - New York

THE FIRM The media and telecommunications practice at this firm regularly manages both national and international corporate transactions. With a team of over 35 lawyers dedicated to this space, it is involved in radio, newspapers, cable television and online media. It works with a whole host of big media clients such as NBCUniversal, News Corporation, Amazon.com and the Associated Press. It recently advised Living Social on its acquisition of South Korean website Ticket Monster. 

Sources say: “They are as good as you can get - extremely responsive, experienced, knowledgeable and thoughtful.”

KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Gillespie is cochair of the media and telecommunications group and a respected and experienced practitioner within the space. He has been leading the team acting for NBCUniversal in relation to its joint venture with Comcast worth $37.5 billion. Sources consider him “very impressive.”

Richard Bohm is praised by sources for his deep understanding of the media industry and his ability to balance the legal and business priorities of his clients when confronted with a problem. “He is great and very thoughtful. He is what you want in a corporate lawyer. He has excellent legal skills and knowledge coupled with a pragmatic sense of how to get things done.”

Media & Entertainment - New York

THE FIRM Debevoise has built an outstanding reputation as a heavyweight in copyright litigation. The group regularly advises important motion picture studios, television broadcasters, record companies and talent on high-profile disputes. It has recently worked on various copyright infringement and right of publicity claims. Clients include Disney, NBCUniversal and CBS.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Bruce Keller is commended for his vast experience handling copyright infringement and right of publicity disputes for a wide selection of entertainment organizations. He is currently acting for the NFL on a right of publicity case brought by former NFL players.

Real Estate - New York

THE FIRM This real estate practice is known for its expertise in corporate and finance matters, and also offers experience on the dirt side, regularly representing clients in acquisitions, dispositions and leasings. One highlight was the team's representation of the Westfield Group in the $1.15 billion sale of seven US shopping centers to a consortium led by Starwood Group. Other notable clients include Beacon Capital Partners, Tishman Speyer and Rockefeller Group.

Sources say: "They work extremely hard and always in a timely manner."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Peter Irwin chairs the real estate group, and has a strong reputation in the market. He represented a fund advised by JPMorgan Investment Management in connection with the joint venture acquisition and financing of New York's 200 Fifth Avenue, the former International Toy Center building.

Nicole Levin Mesard is a hit with clients, who assert that "she is extremely savvy on the give and take of negotiation, and how to argue our points and advance our interests." In practice highlights, she advised Westfield Group on a $1.225 billion investment in the World Trade Center retail development site.

Tax - New York

THE FIRM This firm's highly capable and professional tax group serves clients from a diverse range of industries, including energy, insurance, communications and media, international trade, real estate and investment. Its capabilities cover all types of complex M&A, joint ventures, financings, bankruptcies and restructurings. The group is also highlighted for its expertise in hedge fund formation issues. Its distinguished clients include American Airlines and AIG. In recent highlights, the team represented Access Industries in connection with its multibillion-dollar acquisition of the production and exploration assets of El Paso.  

Sources say: "They are great. They really are a leader in large fund formation work, and they have terrific tax expertise that is very proactive and very effective." 

KEY INDIVIDUALS Gary Friedman is a highly respected expert in multijurisdictional M&A, and the domestic and international tax issues arising therein. "He has a very good mind, and he thinks problems through very well, and quickly," states one impressed peer. "If I were hiring a tax lawyer, he would be near the top of my list."

Peter Furci has an established practice that incorporates private investment funds, debt and equities securities, joint ventures and cross-border M&A. He is well respected for his knowledge and ability to solve problems, and is regarded as "an expert and pragmatic lawyer." 

Burt Rosen chairs the firm's tax department. His practice comprises M&A and complex financing transactions, and he is praised for his wisdom and the ability to tackle the most obscure of tax implications. His recent highlights include handling the multibillion-dollar acquisition of SRA International by Providence Equity Partners.

Private fund formation, M&A and acquisition financing make up a major part of David Schnabel's practice. He recently represented Access Industries in connection with its high-value acquisition of El Paso assets, and is regarded as "absolutely outstanding: levelheaded and extremely intelligent."

Andrew Berg's broad transactional practice includes spin-offs, private equity and real estate, joint ventures, debt restructurings and M&A. His clients include the Rockefeller Group, Broadway Partners and Goldman Sachs.   

Adele Karig brings "a really good marriage of technical expertise and very good commercial sense" to her engagements. She is an expert in a range of buyout, private equity and venture capital issues. 

Vadim Mahmoudov's practice encompasses bankruptcies and restructurings, private equity fund formation, and domestic and cross-border M&A. He was recently involved in the restructuring of financing and purchase arrangements for American Airlines, and is admired by peers for the quality of his intellect. 

Seth Rosen handles a variety of tax issues arising from the activities of insurance companies, including insurance company M&A, reinsurance and annuity products, insurance development, and financings and restructurings. "He is a very fine tax lawyer and a very good person," states a peer; "he's very astute, has a very good technical understanding of a transaction, and brings good business judgment as well as good tax judgment."

Peter Schuur's practice includes undertaking the structuring of international transactions. He handles partnership transactions, dispositions, acquisitions, and financings and restructurings. He is admired for his command of US and international tax law, and is regarded as "a fabulous tax lawyer who is very proactive and has terrific insight."

Robert Staffaroni has an excellent and broad-ranging practice incorporating financial products, leasing, equipment finance and securities. He recently took a leading role, alongside Vadim Mahmoudov, in the restructuring of financing and purchase agreements for American Airlines.