United States > Industry focus > Environment: transactional > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings
Index of tables
The New York-based practice at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP stands out for its ‘exceptional’ environmental advice to a stellar group of clients on strategic business transactions, including equity and debt offerings, bank lending, acquisition financings, and acquisitions and divestitures. Recent mandates include advising Anheuser-Busch InBev on its acquisition of SABMiller, and on the sale of SABMiller’s US and global Miller-branded businesses to Molson Coors. It also represented Heinz and 3G Capital in relation to Heinz’s merger with Kraft Foods, and Olin in connection with its Reverse Morris Trust merger with the chlorine business of Dow. Head of practice Matthew Morreale is highly recommended. Other clients include IBM, Weyerhaeuser and AngloGold Ashanti.
Clients say that the team at Latham & Watkins LLP ‘is just so very good at what it does and how it does it’, on account of its ‘super-talented, extremely hard-working and knowledgeable lawyers that are available literally 24/7’. The environmental support practice works in tandem with the firm’s transactional lawyers, regularly providing due diligence and advice on large industrial M&A and other transactions involving the firm’s private equity and strategic company clients, which include the likes of The Carlyle Group, Platinum Equity and Onex. Highlights included representing Allergan in relation to the hostile takeover bid by Canada’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals; it also advised the client on its eventual sale to ‘white knight’ buyer Actavis and on the sale of its global generics business to Teva Pharmaceuticals. The team also advised Sasol Chemical on obtaining financing for the construction of a new ethane cracker in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The ‘very pragmatic’, Houston-based Joel Mack ‘grasps the transactional big picture very quickly and delves into its minutiae’. Chicago-based counsel Sara Orr is described as an ‘extremely hard-working and knowledgeable environmental lawyer who does not miss a beat’. James Barrett is the other key name.
The transactional experts in Sidley Austin LLP’s environmental team are spread across the country, with Laura Leonard in Chicago, Judith Praitis in Los Angeles and Roger Martella in Washington DC. A team led by Leonard has advised on numerous transactions involving the acquisition and the subsequent sale and leaseback of hundreds of gasoline stations, largely in California, including advice on risk management and insurance and corrective action plans. She is also advising Duke Energy on its acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas. New York-based counsel Maureen Crough is advising Delta Air Lines on the implementation of environmental provisions in numerous agreements related to the redevelopment of passenger terminals at JFK Airport. She also advised Exelon Generation Company, as sponsor, regarding its $613m Rule 144A offering for Continental Wind.
Team heads Betty Moy Huber and Loyti Cheng at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP lead an ‘exceptionally talented team’. The practice constantly provides environmental support on M&A, capital markets and project finance deals, as well as insolvency and restructuring matters. It has experience in alternative energy, and recently Cheng advised First Wind on its $2.4bn acquisition by SunEdison and TerraForm Power. Huber is assisting Emera in connection with its $10.4bn acquisition of TECO Energy, which includes analysis of environmental and reclamation liabilities of its coal mining subsidiaries; and is advising Solvay SA on its $6.4bn acquisition of Cytec Industries. Other clients include Electrolux, Emerson Electric and Murphy Oil.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP has an outstanding reputation for private equity, M&A and restructuring work, and its environmental practice excels in providing comprehensive support to buyers, sellers, lenders and investors involved in such transactions. Recently, the team conducted the environmental due diligence for the investor group led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets in relation to the acquisition of Cleco. It also assisted Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan with its acquisition of Infiltrator Water Technologies from Graham Partners, including the coordination of the environmental due diligence, negotiation of the environmental terms of purchase and finance agreements, and environmental insurance proposals. Walter Lohmann and Brian Land in Washington DC and Paul Tanaka in San Francisco are noted.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP ‘is one of the best law firms in the world’ and its environmental team ‘compares quite favorably to others in the market’. The practice has broad experience advising clients on identification, allocation, management and disclosure of environmental risks derived from business transactions. The New York-based team, co-led by the recommended senior counsels Michael Isby and Adeeb Fadil, assisted Dell and Silver Lake Partners with the acquisition of Massachusetts-based data storage company EMC. In a separate matter, Fadil led the representation of Walgreens Boots Alliance regarding its acquisition of Rite Aid; and he assisted Blackstone with its acquisition of BioMed Realty Trust. Other clients include Centerbridge Partners, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft and Tesoro.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP works for clients in a wide variety of industry sectors in the evaluation of environmental liabilities and compliance issues relating to mergers, asset sales, joint ventures, financings and securities offerings. Department head Don Frost and counsel Elizabeth Malone, both based in Washington DC, are representing Wisconsin Energy in its $9.1bn acquisition of Integrys Energy Group; and they are representing DuPont in several environmental claims and other environmental issues related to its sale of DuPont Performance Coatings to The Carlyle Group in 2013. Palo Alto-based counsel Jane Kroesche advising Danaher Corporation on its acquisition of Pall, a manufacturer of filtration, separation, and purification products.
Led from New York by Matthew Brennan and Mark Rosenberg, the environmental practice at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP advises on commercial transactions for a wide variety of companies, including those in the environmentally sensitive areas of manufacturing, chemical production, petroleum and mining. The advice includes assessing environmental liabilities, preparing environmental policy statements and compliance programs, and obtaining reimbursement for losses under applicable indemnities and insurance policies. In a recent matter, a team led by Brennan were involved in reviewing the environmental aspects of the high-profile merger of between its client Kraft Foods and Heinz. The team also advised Bayer in its acquisition of the consumer care business of Merck. The advice included the assessment and analysis of the environmental liabilities and risks associated with past operations and current compliance at numerous facilities around the world. Other clients include Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, BP and newly retained Canadian Pacific Railway.
The Washington DC-based team at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP supports the firm’s busy transactional practice from an environmental standpoint, advising clients such as American Securities Capital Partners, Berkshire Partners, General Electric and CCMP Capital Advisors. In a recent highlight, the team - which is headed by Annemargaret Connolly - advised CCMP Capital on the acquisition of Solvay’s Eco Services business, including its seven large-scale sulphuric acid manufacturing and recycling plants; the team was responsible for environmental regulatory consents and permitting transfers related to the acquisition. It also handled environmental regulatory consents and permitting transfers on behalf of Intel regarding its acquisition of Altera. In another matter, it advised Verizon on its acquisition of AOL, including the evaluation of the risks associated with the legacy groundwater contamination at one of AOL’s California facilities. Counsels Thomas Goslin and Matthew Morton are noted.
The capabilities of Allen & Overy LLP’s New York-based transactional environmental team are highly praised. In particular, the ‘stupendous’ Kenneth Rivlin is noted for his handling of deal-related indemnity disputes, chemicals matters (including REACH), climate change and emissions trading issues, and energy-related transactions. Calling on ‘the exceptional international network of the firm’, the team advised Vale on the due diligence and contract negotiations regarding the $1bn investment by Mitsui in its coal projects in Mozambique and Malawi, and it continues to assist with integration and risk mitigation of the project. Elsewhere, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on hazardous chemicals recently retained Rivlin and his team to prepare a special report on the ways in which international treaties and international law addresses the potential human rights impacts of exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. Transactional lawyer and expert in EU regulations under REACH, WEEE and RoHS Felise Cooper recently re-joined the New York office.
The team at Bracewell LLP is headed by Jason Hutt in Washington DC and Timothy Wilkins in Texas. It has a wealth of experience assisting clients with the environmental aspects of transactions and, in recent highlights, Wilkins led a team acting as project counsel and chief outside environmental counsel to a new joint venture formed by two large natural gas pipeline companies seeking to construct a cross-border pipeline for transporting Appalachian shale gas to the US Midwest and Canada. In another matter, a team led by Houston-based Heather Palmer and Washington-based Richard Alonso is representing Ecolab in seeking indemnification for environmental claims arising out of the company’s acquisition of an oil field chemicals business in 2013, involving facilities throughout the US, Canada, South America, Europe and the Middle East. Other clients include Chevron, Cabot Oil & Gas, and Pilot Chemical.
Vinson & Elkins LLP’s team has significant experience assisting clients with environmental due diligence and risk allocation relating to mergers and acquisitions, asset sales and real estate transactions, and is especially strong in the energy sector. The team has been involved in the financing aspects of a public-private partnership to supply water for hydraulic fracturing. It has also been assisting a company in the oil industry in negotiations for the purchase of a crude oil pipeline and its operating agreement. Clients include Anadarko Petroleum, Freeport-McMoRan and Maxus Energy. Houston-based Larry Nettles now leads the practice, following the retirement of former department head Carol Dinkins.
Dentons’ experience in transactional work, due diligence and risk assessment and management was illustrated in its advice to Capital Power Corporation on all aspects of its sale to Emera of its 1050MW portfolio of three New England gas-fired merchant generation facilities. In the climate change arena, the team advised Wabashco on the creation of carbon offset credits for use as a compliance measure under the California climate change program. Other clients include Citgo Petroleum and THF Maplewood. Nicholas Yost in San Francisco is chair of the US environmental practice.
King & Spalding LLP’s team assist clients on corporate transactions, including conducting environmental due diligence, drafting and negotiating contracts, and advising on environmental liability and risk allocation matters. In recent matters, it advised EDF Renewable Energy on closing the funding for its Spinning Spur 3 wind energy project, located 50 miles west of Amarillo in Oldham County, and for its Longhorn wind energy project in Floyd and Briscoe counties. Other clients include HD Supply, Barclays Capital and Annaly Commercial Real Estate Group. Cynthia Stroman, who divides her time between Houston and Washington DC, is noted.
White & Case LLP’s team is led from Miami by Douglas Halsey and covers the full spectrum of environmental matters stemming from domestic and cross-border business transactions. Recently, Halsey acted as environmental counsel to Regal Beloit in connection with its acquisition of the Power Transmissions Solutions business of Emerson Electric, including 12 manufacturing facilities in Kentucky, Indiana, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Slovakia and China. He also handled the environmental aspects of Ciner Group’s acquisition of OCI Chemical, a company that operates a soda ash mining and processing facility in the Green River Basin in Wyoming. Other clients include Hess, Pfizer, GDF Suez and Hikma Pharmaceuticals.