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United States > Investment fund formation and management > Alternative/hedge funds > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Alternative/hedge funds
  2. Leading lawyers

Praised for its ‘very strong level of commercial acumen and industry knowledge’, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLPsets the standard’ in the hedge funds space. Its heavyweight team (which ‘doesn’t waste time’) acts for more than half of the world’s 100 largest hedge funds by assets under management, over 300 US-based hedge funds and more than 3000 investment funds globally; examples of its prominent client roster include Viking Global Investors, Blackstone Group and Silver Point Capital. The group handles the full range of issues, from fund formation to seed capital arrangements, day-to-day management issues and ongoing regulatory and compliance matters. David Nissenbaum and Brian Daly recently advised Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co LLC on the launch of TPH Energy Credit Opportunities Fund LP. Key individuals include David Efron, who has ‘superb judgement and deep expertise’, Stephanie Breslow, Marc Elovitz and Steven Fredman. Paul Roth has more than 45 years of experience in the private investment funds arena and is widely respected. John Mahon joined the Washington DC office from Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP.

Clients laud Sidley Austin LLP’s ‘marquee practice’ for being ‘exceptional in every way’. Its 125-strong team handles investment fund formation, management, derivatives and regulatory issues for a broad cross-section of hedge fund clients, including a number of the world’s largest managers and emerging funds. Michael Schmidtberger and Benson Cohen are acting for Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC in the expansion of its HedgeFocus feeder fund platform. In another highlight, David Sawyier (‘there is nobody who works harder for his clients’) worked with Daniel Spies and tax expert Bridget O’Neill (who is ‘a rock star’) in assisting Axar Capital Management with its establishment, the formation of Axar’s initial hedge fund and with negotiating seed investments. ‘Accomplished counselorLaurin Kleiman and the ‘extraordinarily talented’ Janelle Ibeling are recommended, as is San Francisco-based David Tang, who stands out for his knowledge of securities law compliance issues arising from fund formations and fund investments. William Kerr and Bradley Howard are the other names to note. In 2015, Jennifer Spiegel joined from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, while Scott Macdonald was promoted to partner.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP fields a team of 73 lawyers spread across its US, London, Hong Kong and Singapore offices. Stephen Vine and Prakash Mehta jointly head the practice, which acts for a wide-ranging client base that includes start-up hedge fund managers and global sponsors, including a quarter of the world’s largest hedge fund firms and five of the 10 largest European hedge fund managers by assets under management. Notable clients include Apollo Global Management, Oak Hill Advisors and Corvex Management. On the regulatory side, the team deals with a wide array of issues, including those arising from AIFMD, as well as SEC, CFTC and FSA matters. Dallas-based Eliot Raffkind, who advises investment fund managers on fund formations and portfolio investments, is recommended along with Washington DC-based Fadi Samman and New York-based Kelli Moll.

At Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, Lawrence Barshay’s ‘immensely talented and deep team always does a great job, and never misses issues or deadlines’. It has a particularly outstanding reputation among the largest sponsors in the industry, including BlackRock, Goldman Sachs and DE Shaw. In addition to providing advice on traditional hedge fund structures, the group is also experienced in complex customised funds and seeding incubation arrangements. The firm has been particularly active in the fund of funds space recently, where a number of team members, including Walid Khuri and Bradford Lucas, have advised clients including JPMorgan. On the transactional side, the group handles complex fund M&A, as well as Volcker Rule mandated spin-outs and dispositions of proprietary trading businesses. Lisa Schneider is ‘incredibly bright and runs her matters with flawless proficiency’. Other key names include Jonathan Adler, David Selden and Jessica Forbes. The London office expanded its capability with the arrivals of Mark Mifsud, Kate Downey and Alexandra Conroy from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP and Gregg Beechey from King & Wood Mallesons.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP has a strong track record of high-end engagements for large institutional sponsors such as Apollo Global Management and Glenview Capital Management, as well as for independent managers. Its varied workload includes the formation and management of hedge and hybrid funds, in addition to providing advice on regulatory compliance and day-to-day operational issues. In a notable highlight, practice co-head Udi Grofman advised PointState on the formation of a fund investing principally in sovereign and provincial debt issued by the Republic of Argentina. Grofman ‘possesses nonpareil legal expertise that crushes that of his counterparts at other firms’. Elsewhere, the firm has particular strength in acting for seed capital providers and investors including Blackstone, JPMorgan, Pershing Square and ValueAct Capital Management. Marco Masotti acted for Reservoir Capital in its seed investment in Oxbow Master Fund Limited. Other stand-out individuals in the team are newly promoted partner Amran Hussein and Michael Hong.

Ropes & Gray LLP has a deep bench of more than 200 lawyers worldwide, which collectively acts for one third of the 50 largest hedge funds in the US, and 18 of the 50 largest hedge funds worldwide. Jointly led by Laurel FitzPatrick and Leigh Fraser, the team handles the full range of fund formation, operational, regulatory and enforcement matters for managers such as DE Shaw and PIMCO. The firm also advises a healthy stable of start-up managers such as Hunter Peak Investments, which Sarah Davidoff is assisting with forming its global long/short equity hedge fund, in addition to providing advice on structuring the management company. It is also seen as a particular go-to for issues spanning derivatives trading, commodities and special situations transactions. Other areas of strength include litigation, tax, ERISA, and compensation and profit-sharing arrangements. Key names in the team include special situations expert Jeffrey Katz and Deborah Monson, who is at the forefront of CFTC initiatives. New York-based Brynn Rail joined from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP acts for an impressive roster of leading global asset manager clients, including Bridgewater Associates, Citadel, Och-Ziff Capital Management and Perella Weinberg Partners. The team provides advice on an extensive range of fund formation and structuring matters, as well as advice on trading investments, spin-outs and seeding. In the regulatory and compliance arena, practice head Nora Jordan is experienced in dealing with internal investigations, as well as acting for asset managers in enforcement matters involving the SEC and other regulators. Jordan and other team members also advise clients on issues arising from the Dodd-Frank Act, such as Too Big to Fail and Incentive Compensation Rules applicable to large financial institutions. On the sponsor side, Leor Landa’s expertise covers fund formation, regulatory compliance and investigations, as well as fund-related M&A. Landa also assists large institutional investors with their investments into private funds. Gregory Rowland and Yukako Kawata are other names to note.

Led by George Mazin, Dechert LLP’s team acts for a range of sponsors, from start-up managers to global institutions, on fund formation and structuring, as well as on issues arising from fund management, regulatory compliance and enforcement. The firm’s ability to leverage its global footprint enables it to tackle complex cross-border issues, including global marketing matters and inbound/outbound investments. David Vaughan is experienced in representing fund managers in SEC enforcement cases, and has a background as a former senior private fund policy adviser for the SEC’s investment management division. Elsewhere, its outstanding reputation in the registered funds arena is a draw for alternative asset managers seeking to expand into registered closed-end funds, traditional mutual funds and business development companies. Kevin Scanlan’s move to Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP in 2015 was offset by the arrivals of Mark Perlow and Timothy Spangler from K&L Gates and Sidley Austin LLP respectively. Karl Egbert relocated to New York from the Hong Kong office.

Led by ‘first-rate’ practice head Henry Bregstein (who provides clients with ‘a balance of legal and commercial insight’), Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP’s ‘outstanding’ team serves a wide range of market participants, including fund managers, funds of funds, broker-dealers, banks and investors. Experienced in forming and marketing funds in the US and across the EU, the group also handles trading and regulatory compliance issues, as well as M&A. In a notable highlight, Lance Zinman acted for Man Group Plc on its acquisition of Merrill Lynch’s hedge fund of funds business. On the investor side, Ricardo Hollingsworth is leading the team’s advice to Ohio Public Employees Retirement System on its investments into multi-strategy hedge funds. The practice has also experienced an increase in instructions relating to privately placed variable annuity and life insurance products linked to hedge funds. Other key names in the team include Allison Yacker, Fred Santo, Wendy Cohen and Jack Governale.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP expanded significantly in 2014 through its combination with Bingham McCutchen. Its hedge funds practice now comprises more than 150 lawyers worldwide and has been winning mandates from a number of new clients, including ACA Investments, Frontlight Capital and Tudor Investment Corporation. The global group acts for more than 750 global hedge fund managers, including six of the world’s 10 largest by assets under management. In addition to its expertise in fund formation and structuring, managed accounts, derivatives and M&A, the practice can call on the expertise of more than 35 regulatory attorneys with previous senior-level experience at the SEC, FINRA and the US Department of Justice. On the investor side, the team acts for more than 70 global institutional investors on fund structuring and formation, as well as on seeding programs. Global practice co-heads Richard Goldman and Jedd Wider worked with members of the London office to advise Titan Advisors on its acquisition of Saguenay Strathmore Capital. Other recommended individuals include Steven Giordano, Stephen Tirrell, Daniel Budofsky and Ethan Johnson.

Seward & Kissel LLP’s ties to hedge funds date back to the industry’s inception in 1949, when the firm formed the first hedge fund. Its track record makes the 80-lawyer practice a go-to for specialised fund formation matters, such as those involving specialised credit opportunities and sector-specific funds; in a recent highlight, the firm assisted a client with forming a hybrid hedge/private equity fund focused on the energy sector. On the regulatory front the team deals with the full range of compliance matters, including those arising from AIMFD, FATCA and Dodd-Frank, as well as SEC and CFTC exams, investigations and litigation. It also advises on spin-offs, consolidations and restructurings of management companies, as well as handling related tax, employment and ERISA issues. Steven Nadel, Patricia Poglinco and Robert Van Grover jointly head the team, which includes David Mulle, John Tavss and John Cleary.

In addition to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s fund formation, operational and regulatory advice to fund managers, investors and broker-dealers including Fortress Investment Group, Silver Creek Capital Management and BlackRock, the team also has particular strength in structuring master-feeder funds, managed accounts, funds of one and parallel funds. Heather Cruz is advising BlackRock on various Dodd-Frank related matters. Philip Harris and Richard Prins are other names to note.

Steven Lofchie’s team at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP advises on every facet of an investment manager’s business, from formation of the fund manager, creation and structuring of funds, capital raising and devising and executing investment strategies, through to regulatory and compliance issues and M&A. The practice was strengthened by the arrival of Richard Brand, who joined from Kirkland & Ellis LLP, while Dorothy Mehta and Andrew Lom were promoted to partner and counsel, respectively. Brand worked with Christopher Cox and others to advise Pershing Square Capital Management on its acquisition of a 7.5% stake in Mondelez International. The group is particularly active in the family office space, acting for US-based and non-US high-net-worth families and asset managers on family office entity structuring, investment due diligence, succession issues, as well as converting family offices into asset management firms and vice versa. Other strengths include advice on shareholder activism and takeover matters, as well as its work for buy-side and sell-side clients in the derivatives arena. On the regulatory side, the team handles numerous SEC and CFTC-related matters, including those involving registrations, audits and compliance issues.

Elizabeth Shea Fries, who ‘balances business needs and regulatory requirements exceptionally well’, leads the team at Goodwin Procter LLP. Rated for its ‘high-performing practice’, the firm provides a full service to a range of sponsors from start-up clients to large institutions. In an illustration of its expertise in complex fund formation and structuring, Fries, Mandee Gruen and others assisted Global Endowment Management with the creation of a new platform consisting of multiple single-investor funds. In addition to fund formation, the practice also advises on management and regulatory compliance issues as well as the execution of investment strategies. On the transactional side, the group is experienced in M&A, lift-outs and seeding arrangements, among other matters. Brynn Peltz is recommended, as is Roy Smith, who works with clients such as CIFC Corporation and Disciplined Alpha. Luciana Aquino-Hagedorn recently joined from Harvard Management Company.

Lowenstein Sandler LLP’s 40-year track record in the investment management industry makes it a prominent player in the hedge funds space. Robert Minion’s team provides a comprehensive service to a broad range of sponsors, from emerging managers to global players including Davidson Kempner Capital Management, Greywolf Capital and BlueMountain Capital Management. Its workload spans fund formation and regulatory matters, fund and portfolio company M&A, tax, ERISA and employment issues. In addition to its strong sponsor-side client base, the practice also acts for a number of institutional investor clients. Peter Greene, Marie DeFalco, David Goret and Richard Bernstein are all recommended, as is Matthew Magidson, who heads the derivatives and structured products side of the practice.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s team has expertise in structuring and forming bespoke and complex funds across a wide range of vehicles, including hybrid funds, insurance-linked products, funds-of-funds and master-feeder structures. Christopher Wells - who jointly leads the practice alongside Michael Mavrides and Robert Leonard - acted for Engle Capital Funds on all aspects of its entry into the hedge funds market. Amanda Nussbaum, who is both a tax partner and a member of the firm’s private investment funds team, advised on the tax structuring aspects of that matter. The group is also experienced in dealing with sweep examinations, investigations and enforcement actions brought by regulatory bodies such as the SEC, CFTC, FINRA and US Department of Justice. Other areas of expertise include SEC registration and exemption issues, broker-dealer registrations and anti-money laundering.

Based in San Francisco, Shartsis Friese LLP has an outstanding reputation within the hedge funds industry. Its extensive track record includes acting for hedge fund managers on all aspects of their businesses, including formation and capitalisation matters, employee incentive arrangements, licensing and regulatory compliance, as well as the structuring of hedge funds and other vehicles. In keeping with its dominant West Coast presence, its client base is primarily California-based, although the firm also services managers nationwide. Its dedicated Securities Enforcement Defence Group acts for investment advisers, broker-dealers and investors in regulatory and civil investigations. John Broadhurst, Carolyn Reiser and Neil Koren are key individuals in the team.

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP’s diverse practice handles mandates for a broad cross-section of industry participants, including sponsors, investment advisers, distributors and investors. It has experience in forming bespoke fund products, managing Volcker Rule related spin-outs of business lines and fund restructurings. In a notable highlight, Los Angeles based Yousuf Dhamee is leading the advice to Prudential on its investments in various hedge funds and funds-of-one. Other recommended individuals include Lior Ohayon, who heads the team from the firm’s New York office, regulatory expert Tram Nguyen and special counsel Amanda Moore.

Clients praise Bracewell LLP’s ‘high level of service’, with ‘very commercial’ practice head Cheri Hoff singled out for providing ‘good guidance’ and for being ‘a pleasure to work with’. In addition to handling the formation of a range of fund vehicles, including hedge funds and hybrid funds, Hoff advises on operational and restructuring matters and on regulatory issues for funds and their managers. Hoff is currently advising USAA Real Estate Company on compliance issues arising from its acquisition of an interest in Square Mile Capital Management in 2012. Also recommended are Bruce Jocz and David Perlman. Abraham Reshtick joined from Ropes & Gray LLP, while Robert Frenchman moved to Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

Joshua Deringer heads the team at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, which has a particular focus acting for start-up and middle-market managers such as RMB Capital Management LLC, Bogle Investment Management and 1060 Capital LLC. From a fund formation standpoint, the group is particularly experienced in forming complex master-feeder funds and multi-class hedge fund structures, while futures funds and CFTC and NFA regulatory expertise are additional key strengths. The firm also draws upon its strengths in the registered funds sphere to deal with issues where there is an overlap, such as registered funds investing into hedge funds. Kay Gordon and David Matteson are recommended. In 2015, counsel Matthew Silver joined from Pepper Hamilton LLP.

Paul Hastings LLP acts for a diverse range of investment advisers, broker-dealers, institutional investors, commodity pool operators and commodity trading advisers. Although the practice has considerable penetration nationally, it acts for a strong concentration of California-based hedge fund managers, including Rimrock, Beach Point Capital Management and Dalton Investments LLC. David Hearth and Sasha Burstein are assisting Franklin Templeton with the formation of more than 12 master-feeder hedge funds. Arthur Zwickel now heads the practice, succeeding Mitchell Nichter, who maintains a role as senior counsel advising on money management and investment product matters. Senior associate David Hong is another key individual.

Shearman & Sterling LLP draws praise for its ‘exceptional service’; ‘its work product is second to none’ and ‘its knowledge, thoughtfulness and diligence is unparalleled’. The firm provides a comprehensive service to sponsors and investors on matters ranging from fund formation and trading issues, to M&A and ancillary tax and ERISA issues. The practice has recently experienced a particular uptick in managed account work for clients such as TRG Management LP and CCTrack Solutions LLC. John Finley, who leads the team, is ‘able to analyse and dissect complex issues in an effective manner’. The group’s expertise in US and non-US regulatory matters, including the Volcker Rule and AIFMD, are other notable strengths of the practice, as is its experience in regulatory investigations and enforcement action. Another key individual, Paul Schreiber, ‘provides all the technical expertise and diligence necessary to get each job done efficiently’. Nathan Greene and Azam Aziz are also recommended.

Equally well regarded by boutique sponsors and large institutions, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s team attracts praise for its expertise in bespoke fund structures and terms, and for its experience in handling US and non-US funds across a wide range of investment strategies, including event driven, relative value, and convertible arbitrage. Its recent workload has included forming hybrid products involving elements of hedge funds and private equity. The practice also has a notable roster of limited partner clients including Kora Offshore Fund, Hound Partners and BIL. Olga Gutman (‘no issue is too novel or complex’), Glenn Sarno and Thomas Bell are recommended.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s work for sponsors includes fund formation and structuring, capital raising, restructurings, and regulatory and compliance advice. Whitney Chatterjee and Gary Israel jointly lead the group, which advises clients including AQR, Citadel and Brown Brothers Harriman, among others. Recent highlights include advising several US hedge fund managers on restructuring their worldwide entities, and advising York Capital Management Global Advisers LLC on various partnership matters.

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