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


Index of tables

  1. Mutual/registered funds
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Dechert LLP’s sizeable practice leverages its substantial US presence and its extensive global network to advise some of the world’s largest asset management firms on the full spectrum of registered funds, including mutual funds, ETFs, insurance-related products, business development companies and closed-end funds. Its expertise spans corporate and regulatory matters and litigation, as well as ancillary tax, ERISA and executive compensation issues. The practice acts for 22 of the world’s top 25 asset managers, as well as a wide range of registered investment companies (and their boards), broker-dealers and insurance companies; its combined client base represents more than $4 trillion in assets under management. Christopher Harvey jointly heads the practice with Robert Helm. Douglas Dick assisted a registered investment adviser with corporate transactional and regulatory issues associated with its adoption of a family of investment companies. In addition to her experience in closed-end fund IPOs and rights offering, Allison Fumai also advises on ETF product launches and exemptive relief issues. Jeffrey Puretz acts for mutual funds, investment advisers and insurance companies. Richard Horowitz is recommended for his particular knowledge of issues concerning business development companies. Other names to note include Stephen Bier, Anthony Zacharski, John O’Hanlon and Mark Perlow, who recently joined from K&L Gates. Philip Hinkle and Stephen Cohen were promoted to partner.

Spread across its US and European offices, Ropes & Gray LLP’s team comprises 130 lawyers and acts for more than 2000 registered funds and their independent directors or trustees, which collectively hold more than $2 trillion in assets under management. The group’s expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, including open and closed-end funds, variable annuity and variable life insurance products, business development companies and ETFs, and registered funds investing in hedge funds. Joint group head Bryan Chegwidden has acted for the Putnam Funds and their independent trustees for more than 20 years, advising it on the distribution of US funds in Europe and Asia. Chegwidden also assists non-US sponsors with their entry into US markets. Fellow group head John Loder is a leading name in the registered funds space and has a wealth of experience in the organisation of investment managers and registered investment companies. The team recently advised Calamos on the launch of a $600m closed-end fund, and advised PNC Funds on its money market fund offerings in the light of the SEC’s new rules. Key figures in the heavyweight team include Timothy Diggins, Thomas Hiller, Gregory Sheehan and Adam Schlichtmann. Sarah Clinton, whose experience includes structuring registered funds and advising on alternative strategies such as registered funds of hedge funds and multi-manager funds, was promoted to partner. Paul Dykstra and Paulita Pike joined from K&L Gates, while Brynn Rail arrived from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. In 2015, Richard Marshall moved to Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

K&L Gates’ deep bench of registered funds specialists delivers a comprehensive service to a client base of registered open and closed-end funds, independent directors, investment advisers and ETFs, including John Hancock Investment Management Services, for which it acts as fund counsel to all US-registered investment companies sponsored by the client and its affiliates. It also serves as fund and independent board counsel to the Neuberger Berman fund complex. The firm has particular strength in the regulatory space; approximately a quarter of its investment management lawyers have experience of working at a regulatory agency, including Clifford Alexander, Mark Amorosi and Robert Zutz, who are among a number of individuals with experience of working at the SEC. Michael Caccese, whose investment management experience spans more than 35 years, jointly heads the practice with US managing partner Charles Miller. Caccese and Clair Pagnano recently advised Federated Investors on the development of novel investment products in the light of recent reforms to rules on money market funds. Stacy Fuller, who has an active ETF practice, is experienced in novel SEC exemptive relief applications. Mark Goshko is also recommended. Derek Steingarten, whose expertise includes cutting-edge liquid alternatives funds, joined the team from Goodwin Procter LLP, as has Richard Kerr. Michael Wong and Jacob Ghanty joined the Hong Kong and London offices from Allen & Overy and Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, respectively. Paul Dykstra and Paulita Pike moved to Ropes & Gray LLP, while Roger Wise joined Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP, as did Eric Purple, David Glatz, Alan Goldberg and Nicole Trudeau. Mark Perlow joined Dechert LLP.

In the US, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP fields more than 120 funds lawyers who are ‘experts in their field’, and who can leverage the firm’s complementary strengths across a wide range of ancillary disciplines such as M&A, employment, ERISA and tax. Jointly led by John McGuire, Timothy Levin and Roger Joseph, the team is fund counsel to mutual funds, ETFs and closed-end funds which collectively manage more than 1000 investment portfolios, and acts for the independent directors and investment advisers of more than 20 fund complexes. The firm has a particularly strong ETF track record, as illustrated by McGuire’s advice to European asset manager ETF Securities on establishing and launching its US ETF business. Other clients include Legg Mason Funds, Nuveen Investments and Transamerica Funds. The group also acts for hedge funds and private equity funds, as well as transfer agents and custodians. Thomas Harman, Lea Anne Copenhefer and Marion Barish are recommended. Philadelphia-based John O’Brien was promoted to partner in 2015. Richard Morris left the firm to work in-house at ProShares.

Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP’s track record dates back to 1928, when it formed one of the first mutual funds in the US. Its ‘deep team’ provides ‘concrete, actionable advice even when a matter is not 100% black or white’. Its workload encompasses advice to more than 1000 funds, including three of the top 10 largest US-registered fund managers as well as a significant number of small and medium-sized fund clients. Its prominent client base, which includes heavyweight names such as Invesco and Franklin Templeton, expanded in 2015 through new instructions from Behringer, Penn Mutual Asset Management and O’Shares Investments. The team houses a number of highly regarded individuals, including ‘critical business partners’ Bruce Leto and Matthew DiClemente, who assisted Invesco with launching its Absolute Return Funds. Michael Mundt leads the ETF side of the practice, an area which has had a particular uptick in instructions. Other key figures include Ruth Epstein, who has had previous experience at the SEC and Office of General Counsel, and is a go-to for regulatory, governance and enforcement issues; Alison Fuller, who specialises in issues involving the crossover between derivatives and investment funds; and Fabio Battaglia and Michael O’Hare. Washington DC based Christopher Zimmerman was promoted to partner. The firm has hired a number of individuals from K&L Gates, including Roger Wise, Eric Purple and Nicole Trudeau, who joined the Washington DC office, and Alan Goldberg and David Glatz, who moved to the Chicago office.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP acts as a one-stop shop for a wide range of some of the most prominent investment funds, including open-end mutual funds, closed-end funds, business development companies, ETFs, hedge funds and private equity funds, as well as investment advisers, broker-dealers and independent board members. The group’s expertise encompasses new product development, fund structuring and formation, day-to-day operational issues, regulatory compliance and enforcement actions. Other areas of strength include restructuring funds and managers, M&A, and other ancillary matters such as executive compensation, tax and employees’ benefits. It has particular strength advising US and non-US operating companies and investment advisers on status issues under the Investment Advisers Act 1940. The team houses several former senior SEC staff members, including Barry Barbash, who served as a director of the SEC’s investment management division, giving the firm particular strength in SEC and FINRA examinations and investigations. Barbash jointly heads the practice with Margery Neale and collectively bring 65 years of experience in the asset management industry. Also recommended are Rose DiMartino, Benjamin Haskin, the ‘technically strongJay Spinola and of counsel Elliot Gluck. In 2015, securities regulatory expert James Anderson and counsel Richard Jackson joined the Washington office from WilmerHale. In other developments, Solomon Wifa joined the London office from O’Melveny & Myers LLP, while Maria Gattuso left to join Deloitte Consulting.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s team acts for a range of investment advisers and boards of directors, as well as registered investment companies. In addition to advising on new fund formations, the group also handles associated regulatory filings, applications for exemptive relief and no-action letters, and ongoing fund management issues. The team also has first-rate ETF expertise and acts for a number of leading investment banks including Credit Suisse, JPMorgan and Citigroup. It also advises the New York Stock Exchange and three of its ETFs. In addition to its track record in the registered funds space, the firm’s strong reputation in the hedge funds arena attracts mandates from hedge fund managers requiring assistance with assorted corporate, legal and regulatory issues involved with their expansion into registered funds. Nora Jordan and Gregory Rowland are key partners in the team.

Known primarily for acting for registered funds and their boards, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP has a track record that dates back more than 40 years. Joshua Deringer leads the team, which acts for clients such as RiverNorth Funds and the RBB Fund, as well as the independent directors and trustees of Aberdeen Funds. Its experience covers the full fund lifecycle, including fund formations, daily management issues, SEC-related compliance and enforcement, and restructurings. In the ETF space, Diana McCarthy worked with counsel Veena Jain on Principal Financial’s rolling out of new products, as well as advising FlexShares Trust on its ETF fund launches. Michael Malloy works with investment advisers on day-to-day operational issues and mergers. Equally active in registered and alternative funds, the team is particularly well placed to handle crossover mandates, such as open-end vehicles adopting alternative strategies and closed-end vehicles investing in alternative funds. In 2015, the practice was bolstered by the addition of New York-based Stacy Louizos, who joined the firm from Sullivan & Worcester LLP.

Outstanding in all aspects’, Goodwin Procter LLP acts for a wide-range client base of asset managers, mutual fund complexes and independent directors. It also acts for securities lending agents and custodian banks. Its workload spans a range of registered investment products, such as traditional mutual funds, liquid alternative products, bank-sponsored funds and insurance-related vehicles. In a notable mandate, Boston-based co-chair Philip Newman, Marco Adelfio and Paul Delligatti are advising the independent trustees of Eaton Vance Funds on the formation and operation of a new actively-managed ETF. Washington DC-based co-chair Robert Kurucza is leading advice to Bank of America Capital Management and Bank of America Funds on reforms to the rules on money market funds. Other well-regarded individuals include Kimberly Vargo, Thomas Early and Christopher Palmer. Derek Steingarten recently joined K&L Gates.

Paul Hastings LLP’s longstanding relationships with clients including Reich & Tang and Kayne Anderson has seen its funds practice play key roles in some of their most complex and significant matters. Michael Rosella and Michael Zuppone assisted the former with liquidating its entire mutual fund complex. In an illustration of its strength in unit investment trusts (UITs), the group recently assisted Invesco with creating and registering more than 300 UIT portfolios totalling approximately $8bn in assets. It also advised Eaton Vance on the corporate and regulatory aspects of its UIT business. The group is also active in the closed-end fund space, while its recent workload has included mutual fund launches and M&A advice to funds and asset managers. Gary Rawitz and David Hearth are also recommended.

Clients value Shearman & Sterling LLP’s ‘thoughtful and creative analysis’ and ‘wealth of knowledge and experience’ in the registered funds arena. ‘Trusted partnerNathan Greene heads the group, which draws on its presence in New York, London and Hong Kong to advise fund managers, fund families and independent directors on issues involving US and offshore regulatory regimes. In a notable highlight illustrating the practice’s uptick in M&A mandates, Greene worked with Thomas Majewski, Paul Schreiber and tax expert Michael Shulman to advise First Eagle Funds on the acquisition of a controlling interest in First Eagle Investment Management by a consortium led by Corsair and Blackstone. The team is also particularly experienced in forming and structuring UCITS funds, as well as advising on the UCITS Directive.

Sidley Austin LLP fields ‘an absolutely stellar’ team which draws praise for its ‘extensive industry knowledge’. It is ‘particularly effective in managing large projects to an extremely tight timetable’. The firm’s expertise covers a wide range of registered fund products, including ETFs, UITs, target date funds, money market funds, traditional mutual funds and closed-end funds. It is also active in the liquid alternatives space, and regularly advises registered fund managers on alternative strategies, as well as funds sponsored by alternative advisers. Key figures include Laurin Kleiman, who is ‘an accomplished counselor’, and Frank Bruno and Jonathan Miller, who are ‘aware of the legal underpinnings at hand and also have a great deal of practical knowledge, which is handy in a crisis situation’. A team including Bruno, John MacKinnon, James Munsell and Jesse Kean has been advising BlackRock’s money market funds on new rules concerning money market fund reform. Elsewhere, MacKinnon and Paul Risko have acted for underwriters in various public offerings by business development companies (BDCs). Counsel Douglas McCormack is also recommended.

A strong firm’, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP has ‘deep resources’ and ‘stays abreast of industry trends’ in the registered funds arena. Under the leadership of Stuart Coleman (who is ‘the dean of the investment company bar’) the team acts for more than 850 mutual funds, closed-end funds, ETFs and business development companies, as well as their independent board members. The group has a strong track record in forming a wide range of investment companies, as well as counseling them on day-to-day operational issues including product development, distribution and servicing matters. It also handles exceptional events such as fund M&A and liquidation. In a notable highlight Coleman, David Stephens, Janna Manes and Nicole Runyan acted for The Dreyfus Funds in forming and launching various new mutual funds, which involved various novel investment strategies and investments in complex asset classes. The team provides advice to the boards of some of the most prominent names in the registered funds arena, including iShares, Apollo Investment Corporation, Ares Funds and Neuberger Berman Alternative Funds. The team also acts for investment advisers such as JPMorgan, Credit Suisse and Monarch Alternative Capital, and has notable strength representing parties subject to regulatory investigations and settlements. Washington DC-based Robert Plaze is a name to note in regulatory matters.

Steeped in ’40 Act mattersVedder Price’s practice is ‘always responsive, has solid expertise and provides well-grounded advice’. David Sturms and Cathy Gonzales O’Kelly lead the group, which acts for open and closed-end registered funds ranging in size from less than $1bn to more than $100bn, and also handles mandates for independent directors and investment advisers. Sturms, O’Kelly, John Marten and Deborah Eades have advised longstanding client Deutsche Funds on the board’s fiduciary duties, as well as multiple transactions and securities offerings and restructuring matters. Other clients include Legg Mason Funds, PowerShares ETFs and ICI Mutual Insurance Company. Karin Flynn has retired.

Noted for its ‘outstanding service at all times’, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP’s team provides ‘timely and well-articulated advice’. Singled out for particular praise are Carl Frischling, for his ‘lifetime of experience in mutual funds’, and the ‘articulate and responsive’ Ronald Feiman. The group, which also includes George Silfen, advises on the formation and operation of various fund products, including mutual funds, BDCs, registered hedge funds and closed-end funds, as well as associated regulatory compliance. Although the firm has a notable reputation for its work for independent directors, its client roster also includes funds, investment advisers and broker-dealers. Reflective of the firm’s strong track record in registered funds, it acts for four of the top 25 fund complexes, including the independent trustees of Columbia Funds and JPMorgan.

Jay Baris heads the practice at Morrison & Foerster LLP, which attracts mandates from a range of industry players including investment advisers, registered investment companies, independent directors, investors and underwriters, among other clients. Reflective of the group’s wide-ranging expertise, its varied workload includes the formation and structuring of closed-end funds and unit investment trusts (as well as their financing), advice on ‘40 Act regulatory and disclosure matters, as well as investment manager and investment company M&A. It is particularly adept at advising operating companies and holding companies on seeking exemption from the requirement to register as investment companies. Baris, Kelley Howes and Matthew Kutner are acting as fund counsel to The Victory Funds, assisting the client with various corporate, regulatory, governance and litigation matters. Other key figures include Barbara Mendelson, Darryl Rains and Murray Indick. Randall Fons has retired from private practice.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s ‘level of service is excellent; its advice is always on point, direct and actionable’. Jointly led by Sarah Cogan and Rajib Chanda, the group capitalises on the firm’s leading reputation in the private funds arena to assist alternative asset managers including KKR, Riverstone Holdings, Oaktree and Ares Management with their activities in the registered funds space. It also advises US-registered open and closed-end funds, underwriters, ETFs and BDCs, as well as independent boards and investment advisers. The multidisciplinary practice advises on regulatory and corporate governance issues, alternative products (such as liquid alternatives) and M&A. The practice has historically been particularly active in the closed-end fund space; despite sluggish market conditions, recent highlights for Cogan and Chanda include acting for the underwriters in the US$555m IPO of Calamos Dynamic Convertible and Income Fund.

Sullivan & Worcester LLP has a strong track record acting for the independent trustees and directors of mutual funds and closed-end funds, as well as the funds themselves. Jointly led by David Mahaffey and David Leahy, its team handles the structuring, formation and offering of funds, as well as dealing with operational and regulatory issues, and M&A. The group also advises on conflicts of interest and distribution arrangements, among other matters. The firm has a particularly notable base of insurance-related fund clients; it acts as fund counsel to MetLife Funds, and for the independent trustees of the John Hancock Funds. John Chilton and Matthew Van Wormer are recommended. Stacy Louizos joined Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP in 2015.

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Legal Developments worldwide

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