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United States > Investment fund formation and management > Mutual/registered/ exchange-traded funds > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Mutual/registered/exchange-traded funds
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading lawyers
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading lawyers

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Dechert LLP continues to ‘exceed the expectations’ an array of leading managers and their funds’ trustees, and has a particular strength in cross-border work. Stuart Strauss, Allison Fumai, Richard Horowitz and Jeremy Senderowicz in New York continue to serve as counsel to Morgan Stanley Mutual Funds’ retail funds, while in Washington DC, Thomas Bogle advises MainStay Funds’ funds and trustees. Also in Washington DC, Robert Helm and Douglas Dick continue to advise a leading manager on its retail funds fleet, while Helm and Boston-based John O’Hanlon act as fund counsel for a family of funds with $2tn under management. Christopher Harvey, Christopher Christian and Geoffrey Kenyon (whose ‘years of experience enable him to provide perspective on a wide range of matters’) in Boston and Stephen Cohen in Washington DC are also noted. Harvey and Helm share leadership of the practice. Stephanie Capistron in Boston and Brenden Carroll in Washington DC are new partner promotions. Other clients include Deutsche Bank ETFs and Van Eck ETFs.

Primarily based in Boston, Ropes & Gray LLP is ‘one of the leaders in the mutual fund arena - the depth and industry knowledge of the registered funds team is excellent’. George Raine and Gregory Sheehan (‘a true expert in ’40 Act law, who provides both funds and independent directors with excellent, practical advice’) advised Baillie Gifford Funds on matters including forming an impact fund. John Loder continues to advise Natixis and Loomis Sayles’ fund groups. Other key names include Brian McCabe (who deploys his ‘superior intellect’ as fund counsel for clients such as Brighthouse Funds), Sarah Clinton, James Thomas and Timothy Diggins, who advises State Street Global Advisers. In Chicago, Paulita Pike (‘a vital partner to clients’ success in growing and governing large assets under management figures’) continues to advise the trustees of Jackson National Life Funds, and Gregory Davis acts as fund counsel to AMG Funds, which sponsors 46 mutual funds, and its affiliate AMG Pantheon Fund, a registered fund-of-private equity funds. Further independent trustee representations include those of Lord Abbett Funds (handled by New York-based Bryan Chegwidden), JP Morgan ETFs and FlexShares ETFs. Chegwidden and Thomas Hiller head the team.

Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP is ‘highly experienced in the industry and able to use its experience to assist clients in achieving their targets’. Bruce Leto in Philadelphia has an ‘encyclopedic knowledge of the relevant law, from the nuances of the regulation to the most obscure no-action letter’; he advised Franklin Templeton, a client for over two decades, on shepherding over a hundred funds through a major governance project. In the traditional ’40 Act funds space, Eric Purple in Washington DC is advising Morningstar Investment Management on forming a mutual fund complex, and Alison Fuller (also in Washington DC) and Matthew DiClemente in Philadelphia are advising the BlackRock equity bond board. As far as manager M&A activity is concerned, Leto and DiClemente are assisting Invesco with its purchase of Guggenheim’s ETF business, including translating the funds onto the PowerShares platform. Other names to note in Philadelphia include Michael Mabry, who ‘has a terrific breadth of experience for mutual and closed-end funds’, and Michael O’Hare, who is ‘knowledgeable on the issues affecting the factors that independent trustees face’; while in Washington DC, regulatory expert Ruth Epstein has ‘a wealth of knowledge, numerous industry contacts and a strong understanding of the practical considerations that go in to decision-making’) and Michael Mundt advises key names in the sector on ETFs. The firm also acts for RBC Funds, Macquarie Investment Management and American Century.

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K&L Gates primarily acts as fund counsel, covering both fund restructuring and management as well as heavyweight M&A in the asset management space. Arthur Delibert and Lori Schneider in Washington DC continue to act for Neuberger Berman as both fund and board counsel. In the same office, practice head Mark Amorosi continues to advise AXA, handling nine fund mergers and several proxy statement modernizations. Other key lawyers in Washington DC include Robert Zutz, who assists USAA, George Zornada, who advises Salient Funds, and Ndenisarya Bregasi. In Boston, Michael Caccese and Clair Pagnano advised Federated Investors on acquiring Horizon Advisers and on tender offers required to merge two funds. Pagnano and Mark Goshko advise Eaton Vance. The firm also acts for John Hancock Financial Services - which the team advised on several fund launches and mergers - and Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Richard Kerr in Boston is also noted.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP advises leading investment managers across asset classes and fund structures from multiple locations on the East Coast, and ‘provides an outstanding level of service, with a highly valued depth of knowledge and industry expertise’. In Philadelphia, Jack O’Brien and Timothy Levin (‘a highly capable lawyer with strong technical expertise and contacts in the industry’) advised Brinker Capital on setting up ten new funds. In Boston, Roger Joseph and Lee Anne Copenhefer continue to advise Legg Mason on regulatory and compliance matters, including in relation to a restructure of funds managing over $100bn as a result of changes to regulations around money market funds. In the ETF arena, Washington DC-based Christopher Menconi advised a subsidiary of the World Gold Council on creating the SPDR Long Gold Dollar Trust, a currency-hedged ETF backed by physical gold. Also in Washington DC, John McGuire and Joshua Sterling serve as counsel to the Invesco PowerShares DB Funds, a series of ETFs investing in commodity and currency derivatives. Laura Flores, who handles complex SEC regulatory work, is also a key partner in Washington DC, as is Thomas Harman, who is ‘recommended for his expertise dealing with regulatory issues’. In relation to manager M&A, Boston-based Roger Joseph, Toby Serkin and newly elected partner Jeremy Kantrowitz continue to advise Pioneer Investment Management on its acquisition by Amundi Pioneer Asset Management, a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole.

Vedder Priceprovides above-and-beyond client service and actionable advice’. Practice head Cathy Gonzales O’Kelly, David Sturms and John Marten often advise Deutsche Funds, and O’Kelly, Sturms and Deborah Bielicke Eades are acting for longstanding client Nuveen Funds in a program of ETF consolidation. The firm also represents the independent directors of several funds, including the trustees of Guggenheim Funds, which O’Kelly advised on a proposed fund reorganization, and Select Sector SPDR Trust, which Joseph Mannon and Bruce Rosenblum advised on changes to several ETFs as a result of changes to the underlying indices the funds track. Renee Hardt is also a key contact and continues to act for the independent directors of Great-West Funds. Sturms also advises ICI Mutual, the Investment Company Institute’s captive D&O insurer. With the exception of Rosenblum in Washington DC, named lawyers are located in Chicago.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP handles a range of work for asset managers, with a number of its lawyers having particular experience on the regulatory front. Margery Neale advised a manager with over $1tn under management on launching 12 funds-of-funds, a money market fund and a bond fund. Senior counsel Rose DiMartino advised a European-headquartered manager on a range of fund matters, and advised New Ireland Fund on negotiations with an activist investor. Elliot Gluck is also a key contact. Benjamin Haskin in Washington DC, Jay Spinola and Georgia Bullitt advised a leading manager on launching its first actively managed ETFs. Neale shares leadership of the practice with former SEC Division of Investment Management director Barry Barbash (who is based in both Washington DC and New York), who advised a fund sponsor on a global restructuring. The team is based in New York unless otherwise stated.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP handles transactional work as well as complex regulatory matters. Nora Jordan advises the independent directors of CPG Vintage Asset Fund, a new client. Turning to fund representation, Jordan and Gregory Rowland advised Och-Ziff Capital Management on the launch of a registered closed-end fund and a business development company. TCW is also a client and Jordan advised it on procuring exemptive relief from the SEC to borrow money. John Crowley advises key service providers to ’40 Act funds. Other clients include PIMCO and Baron Funds. The team is based in New York.

A ‘knowledgeable and deep team’, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLPensures funds are running smoothly and adding value for all involved’. Practice head Joshua Deringer and Jillian Bosmann, who was made partner in February 2017, advised Partners Group on securing an exemptive order from the SEC to allow co-investments with funds governed by international regulators. Other key lawyers include Michael Malloy, who is ‘very knowledgeable of the ’40 Act’, the ‘intellectual and independently minded’ Diana McCarthy, who handled the launch of FlexShares Core Select Bond Fund, and the ‘smart, diligent and practical’ Stacy Louizos in New York. The firm also acts for AQR Funds’ independent trustees, FS Investments and Two Roads Shared Trust. Other than Louizos, the team is located in Philadelphia.

Goodwin provides an ‘excellent’ overall level of service to fund sponsors and an impressive roster of independent trustee boards. Marco Adelfio, a ‘very effective communicator with an extremely constructive approach that makes delicate issues easier to resolve through negotiation and compromise’, advised Wells Fargo Funds on structuring several new funds designed to be sold through robo-advisers. Independent trustee representations included Adelfio’s advice to the trustees of Invesco Funds regarding the SEC’s money market funds reform, as well as the recruitment of new trustees; counsel Thomas Early and Paul Delligatti continue to advise the independent trustees of the Federated Funds, while Christopher Palmer is advising the independent trustees of Hartford Funds, including on creating a new fund with a NextShares exchange-traded feeder fund. Delligatti and practice head Philip Newman advise the independent trustees of the Eaton Vance funds. Robert Kurucza in Washington DC handles heavyweight regulatory and litigation matters, including for Columbia Funds. Other than Early in Los Angeles and Newman in Boston, named lawyers are located in Washington DC.

Paul Hastings LLP’s ‘very experienced ’40 Act team has the depth and breadth of knowledge clients need’ and has particular expertise in actively managed ETFs and unit investment trusts. Michael Rosella and of counsel Vadim Avdeychik advised Gabelli Funds on its entry into the ETF market through the creation of several actively managed ETFs. Rosella and of counsel Gary Rawitz continue to advise Invesco on its fleet of unit investment trusts, which manage $7bn. Highlights in the fund sponsor M&A arena included Rosella and Michael Zuppone advising Reich & Tang’s management on a successful buyout of the fund manager from Natixis Asset Management. The aforementioned lawyers are based in New York, but ‘extremely practical and experienced lawyer’ David Hearth is based in San Francisco and ‘provides timely, practical and effective advice’; he continues to advise TCW Group on its funds, including on acquiring control of a fund sponsored by Gargoyle Asset Management. Other clients include Eaton Vance, which the team advises on unit investment trusts, and Brookfield Asset Management.

Shearman & Sterling LLP provides an ‘exceptional overall level of service - the team is of the highest quality; its knowledge, preparation and guidance is second to none’. The team advises managers and independent boards, and liquid alternative funds are a strong suit in particular. ‘Trusted adviser and pleasure-to-work-withNathan Greene continues to act for the independent trustees of Blackstone Alternative Funds, which manages $4.3bn, some of which is in a fund sub-advised by hedge fund managers. Of counsel Paul Schreiber advised Miller/Howard Funds on a $50m shelf offering for Miller/Howard High Equity Income Fund, circumventing the SEC’s bar on closed-ended registered investment companies from selling fresh shares at a discount to the net asset value. The firm has handled a number of strategic-level matters concerning managers, with Greene advising SkyBridge Capital and its funds on the funds and regulatory change-of-control aspects of the company’s sale to HNA Capital in the wake of founder Anthony Scaramucci’s appointment to a role in the Trump administration. Other clients include SEC-registered fund-of-hedge funds Ironwood Capital Management and Perella Weinberg Partners. The team, which is based in New York, was bolstered in January 2018 by the return of Jay Baris from Morrison & Foerster LLP - he is ‘leading the industry on the most challenging and innovative issues, including cryptocurrency’.

Sullivan & Worcester LLP has ‘strong knowledge of the industry and the law, plus an ability to distil complex regulations into practical advice’. The team has a particular strength in advising the independent trustees of funds, but also handles work for funds including traditional ’40 Act funds and ETFs across asset classes. David Mahaffey represents the independent trustees of the John Hancock Funds. David Leahy is an ‘outstanding lawyer with extensive knowledge of the SEC regulations and the operation of the funds industry’; he represents the trustees of the Legg Mason Partners Funds Fixed Income Funds. Fund representation included Mahaffey’s advice to the Virtus Mutual funds, including on its absorption of the Ridgeworth Funds. John Hunt in Boston and John Chilton advise the Pear Tree Funds and Williamsburg Investment Trust respectively. Matthew Van Wormer in New York and Nicole Crum are also key contacts. Lee Dunham retired in 2017. Unless mentioned otherwise, lawyers are located in the Washington DC office.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP’s ‘very knowledgeable and experienced’ team, which is based in New York, ‘offers practical and experience-laden’ advice on a range of matters, often at the crossover of retail and hedge funds. Ronald Feiman and George Silfen advised Archstone Partnerships on launching Archstone Alternative Solutions Fund, a ’40 Act fund-of-hedge funds taxed like a mutual fund, which required SEC approval to issue shares in multiple classes. Independent director representations included those of First Eagle Funds, Morgan Stanley Funds and OppenheimerFunds.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s made an entry to the ’40 Act space via a team hire from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, comprising the lawyers mentioned below. David Stephens and Janna Manes advised Dreyfus Money Market Funds on a restructuring of its funds. Nicole Runyan advised The Swiss Helvetia Fund on several matters involving activist investor Bulldog Investors, including a tender offer and Delaware litigation. Stuart Coleman and Runyan advised Central Park Group Funds on various matters, including a registered fund similar in structure to a typical private equity fund. Gary Granik advised Alger Funds on the acquisition of Weatherbie Capital. Trustee clients include a special committee of the board of trustees of the Carey Credit Income Funds, which Runyan advised on the exit of the business development company’s adviser from the market. The firm also acts for Lazard Funds and Needham Funds. All named individuals are based in New York.

Private equity titan Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP handles a range of work concerning ’40 Act funds run by leading private equity sponsors, including ETFs and business development companies. Washington DC-based Rajib Chanda (‘an industry thought leader who provides cutting-edge advice on the most difficult questions’) advised Blackstone, a cornerstone client, on securing exemptive relief to offer multiple shares in Blackstone/GSO Floating Rate Enhanced Income Fund. Chanda and David Blass, also in Washington DC, advised the same client on its October 2017 purchase of Harvest Fund Advisors. In the New York office, Sarah Cogan advised the underwriters (spearheaded by Wells Fargo Securities) on a $9m offering of shares in GAMCO Natural Resources, Gold & Income Trust, which is advised by Gabelli Funds. Other clients include KKR, which Chanda advised on the merger between KKR Prisma and PAAMCO, creating PAAMCO Prisma, and the independent trustees of PIMCO’s closed-ended funds, which Cogan advises.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP handles capital markets matters around ETFs, as well as heavyweight mutual fund manager M&A. Michael Hoffman in New York handled Yahoo!’s transition to an investment company named Altaba following the sale of its trading business to Verizon, and advised Janus Capital Group on its merger with Henderson Group. Thomas DeCapo in Boston advised BlackRock on the IPO of BlackRock 2022 Global Income Opportunity Trust, and assisted Franklin Square Holdings with the IPO of a registered, closed-ended fund. Kevin Hardy in Chicago is also a name to note. The firm also acts for Tremont Mortgage Trust and Gabelli Funds.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP handles a range of work and is particularly strong in trustee representations. John Baumgardner and Donald Crawshaw advise the independent trustees of the Deutche Bank closed-ended funds and those of several ETFs managed by Fidelity Investments. Baumgardner, Crawshaw and William Farrar advised NG Investment Corporation on its merger with TGC BDC, the first merger of affiliated business development companies handled via private placement. Other clients include Aberdeen Greater China Funds, the independent trustees of the AllianceBernstein Funds, Oaktree Capital Management and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA). Named lawyers are based in New York.

Primarily based in the firm’s home state of Ohio, Thompson Hine LLP’s team advises mutual fund and ETF managers on a diverse range of mandates. Michael Wible and counsel Andrew Davalla advised Huntington National Bank on disposing of its asset management business to three different buyers, which required complex FINRA filings. JoAnn Strasser and Davalla assisted Northern Lights Fund Trust with securing a no-action letter from the SEC authorizing its funds-of-funds to invest in derivatives without a prior exemptive order. Strasser also advised Compass Funds on its acquisition by Victory Capital Management. More exotic mandates concern inter-fund lending and shari’ah-compliant funds. Names of note outside Columbus include Cassandra Borchers in Cincinnati, who advises Princeton Private Investment Fund, and Bibb Strench, a new partner promotion in the Washington DC office. Formerly a counsel at the firm, Tanya Goins is now a senior counsel at Holland & Knight LLP in Dallas.

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