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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United States, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for six consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.

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Private equity fundraising’s strong 2016 carried into 2017, with buoyant headline figures showing that leading managers are able to raise large funds quickly, either setting record figures or securing all the commitments for a fund in a single, rapid closing. That said, while newer managers with strong pedigrees are able to gain some traction, other market entrants and less-established names are reporting pressure from institutional investors to go below the traditional two-and-twenty fee structure. The size of the market means that, just as investors have a wide range of fund sponsors to choose from, both sides of the table have an impressive range of law firms available to them.

Hedge funds also reported a positive 2017. Technology has very much become a key theme, with quant funds growing significantly, artificial intelligence and machine-learning much talked about on the technical front, and cryptocurrencies becoming an asset class many managers are looking at. In early 2017, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange began offering bitcoin futures, but the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has vetoed several proposals for bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) - and this, coupled with the cryptocurrency’s prodigious rise and subsequent crash over the 2017-18 winter (losing two-thirds of its value in a six-week period), has dampened much mainstream enthusiasm for cryptocurrency as an asset class, as distinct from other uses for blockchain technology.

In the retail fund space, ETFs have continued their onward march, with the global upward trend in asset prices allowing investors to benefit from passive management; while on the flip side, the lack of volatility makes it an unfavorable environment for active management.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP alumnus Jay Clayton has come to the end of his first year as SEC chairman, following his appointment by the new administration as a replacement for Mary Jo White, who returned to Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s litigation team. A brief spike in SEC inspections of hedge funds, including the Boston office demonstrating a penchant for surprise visits in mid-2017, appears to have died down, although a large number of potential bear-traps continue to exist, including in anticorruption matters.

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