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  1. Private equity funds
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Leading lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Noted for its ‘excellent industry knowledge’, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s ‘top-ranked’ team of ‘very responsive, creative negotiators’ acts for a heavyweight roster of private equity clients such as KKR and The Carlyle Group across a wide range of asset classes. Erica Berthou - ‘a true star’ - and counsel Katrina Rowe advised Global Infrastructure Partners on its third infrastructure fund, which represents the largest fund the client has raised to date. In the buyout space, Rebecca Silberstein and Andrew Ahern advised Kelso & Company on a $2.6bn fund. On the debt fund side, Berthou advised Oaktree Capital Management on the launch of two debt funds with a combined total of $11bn in commitments, and assisted GSO Capital Partners with a $6.5bn mezzanine fund. David Schwartz and Jonathan Adler regularly advise on fund formation matters for clients including Morgan Stanley. On the fund M&A front, Jordan Murray advised an investment firm on a minority sale to Goldman Sachs. Michael Harrell retired as a partner, but continues to act as of counsel.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP is ‘one of the top firms in the space’ and one that clients are ‘most happy to have in their corner’ thanks in part to the strength in depth of its team, which is ‘excellent from top to bottom’. New York-based Andrew Wright (for some ‘the best in the business’) advised Warburg Pincus on the creation of four funds with a combined $18bn in capital commitments, while in Chicago the ‘outstandingBruce Ettelson, John Muno (who has ‘great market knowledge and an efficient and co-operative working style’), Scott Moehrke and William Welke advised Thoma Bravo on a $7.5bn technology buyout fund. In another highlight, Ettelson and Muno acted alongside Chris Kallos (who attracts praise for his ‘excellent legal and business judgment’) for Madison Dearborn Partners on a $4.4bn fund. Other key figures in Chicago include new partner Katie St. Peters, who is ‘able to work through issues with opposing counsel efficiently and professionally’, and Sarah Kirson, whose ‘entrepreneurial and growth-oriented approach’ makes her a natural choice for younger private equity firms. In New York, practice head John O’Neil, who regularly acts on fund formation matters for Vista Equity Partners, and ‘fund formation rock starJohn Budetti are recommended, as is San Francisco-based Karin Orsic, who is praised for her ‘excellent client service and deep domain knowledge’. Other clients include HGGC, Starwood Capital Group and 3G Capital.

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Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has a heavyweight sponsor-side practice spanning both coasts. Funds closed by the New York office in 2016 included the $1.1bn Aquiline Financial Services Fund III, which Thomas Bell acted on, and the $8bn Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe V fund, which Michael Wolitzer led on. Other longstanding clients include The Carlyle Group, which Barrie Covit regularly advises and which Jonathan Karen recently assisted with an energy sector targeted mezzanine fund totaling $2.8bn; CVC Capital Partners, which Glenn Sarno and Olga Gutman advised on a €650m credit fund; KKR (which Jason Herman advises); and JC Flowers and Macquarie. In Los Angeles, Tom Wuchenich advises Oaktree on debt funds, while Michael Nooney in Palo Alto advised Technology Crossover Ventures on its ninth fund, which raised $2.5bn. Manager M&A highlights included advising HIG Capital and Silver Lake on sales of minority stakes to Dyal Capital Partners.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLPknows the clients’ businesses and the funds market very well’. The firm has been highly active for general partners (GPs) forming cross-border funds; in a recent example of cross-border fund formation activity, Robert Raymond advised BRV Lotus on the formation of a growth fund aimed at Korean targets. Other fund formation highlights included Michael Gerstenzang and Elizabeth Lenas (‘a steady team leader who gives thoughtful advice’) advising TPG Capital on the formation of TPG Partners VII, which closed with over $10bn of commitments - Lenas also advised TPG Special Situations Partners on the formation of a $417m CLO fund. On the investor side, Gerstenzang advised Coller Capital on its investments into CLO funds and on the acquisition of LP interests in JC Flowers’ funds. Other clients include Korea Investment Corporation, Hillhouse Capital Management and The Raine Group.

Among the high-end law firms in the space’, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP has extensive experience of real estate and buyout fund formation work, with clients singling out the ‘high levels of partner attention’. Washington DC-based Richard Ansbacher and New York-based practice head Kenneth Rosh (‘an absolute pleasure to work with - he is very experienced and knowledgeable’) advised Permira Advisers on the launch of a €7.25bn buyout fund, while Rosh acted alongside the ‘extremely hands-onRebecca Neuschatz Zelenka in Washington DC for Brookfield Asset Management on a $9bn fund investing in real estate assets and debt, as well as equity positions in property companies. On the fund-of-funds side, the team handled a $750m secondaries fund for StepStone Group, while in the credit fund space it advised Morgan Stanley on a venture loan fund.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP draws on ‘a strong bench of excellent lawyers with strong technical expertise, good market knowledge and a practical approach’. The four-partner team handles a wide range of fund formation matters for heavyweight sponsors, including Apollo Global Management, which Marco Masotti and Michael Hong advised on a $750m special situations fund; Harvest Partners, which Hong and Masotti advised on a $2.2bn buyout fund and a $400m fund focused on junior debt and structured equity investments; and KKR, which Masotti advised on the formation of a $3.35bn special situations fund investing in companies undergoing restructuring. Also recommended are Amran Hussein, who continues to advise General Atlantic on its fundraising activities, and the very well-regarded Udi Grofman. All named individuals are based in New York.

Among the few firms with expertise spanning all asset management classes’, Ropes & Gray LLP attracts praise for its ‘team-based culture’ and for having ‘strength in depth across all levels of seniority’. John Ayer advised investment management company Atairos Group on its establishment and the structuring of its investment vehicles comprising more than $4bn in committed capital. The firm supplements its sponsor-side credentials with an impressive LP client base, which includes Stanford University, Canada Pension Plan, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and Harvard University - Larry Rowe advises the last client on buying and selling a range of interests, as well as on co-investment vehicles. Also recommended are Marc Biamonte in New York, who is ‘an excellent fund formation lawyer - thoughtful, responsive and a pleasure to work with’, and who has particular expertise in structuring funds-of-funds and separately managed accounts; regulatory expert Jason Brown, who stands out for his ‘extensive technical and industry knowledge’; Raj Marphatia in Palo Alto, who regularly handles multibillion-dollar fund formations; Chicago-based Matthew Posthuma; and Peter Laybourn and Debra Lussier, who advised Constitution Capital Partners on a $500m fund, as well as on various fund-of-one and separately managed accounts. New York-based Morri Weinberg handles ten-figure buyout fund formations. Amanda Persaud is a new high-profile recruit in New York from Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The named attorneys are located in Boston unless specified.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP fields ‘a great mix of expertise globally, both at partner and associate level’, and stands out as ‘a go-to law firm for high-value and complex fund formation’. Andrew Chizzik - ‘a real pleasure to work with and an excellent technician’ - regularly handles complex fund formations for Brookfield Asset Management, including recently advising on a $4bn buyout fund and a $14bn infrastructure fund, the largest of its type to date. Practice head Jonathon Soler (who attracts praise for his ‘excellent strategic advice - he is very plugged in with all the big players’) handled a number of high-value fund launches throughout 2015 and 2016, including advising Lindsay Goldberg on the formation of a $3.6bn fund. Other clients include Berkshire Partners, which Stephanie Srulowitz advised on a $5.5bn fund launch; Apollo Credit, which Chizzik and Paul Cohn advised on a $5bn actively managed credit fund; Providence Equity Partners; and first-time manager Tritium Partners. All named individuals are located in the New York office.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s practice, headed by Stephen Vine in New York, handles regulatory and formation mandates for a number of significant managers. Fadi Samman and counsel Angela Adams, both based in Washington DC, are advising a number of institutional investors in the Red Fort India Real Estate funds, which are undergoing a change in leadership in the wake of the separation of the manager’s two principals. Dallas-based Eliot Raffkind, who handles matters at the crossroads of private equity and hedge funds, is also recommended. Other clients include Apollo Global Management, GoldenTree Asset Management and Angelo, Gordon & Co.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s team in New York advises some of the private equity industry’s biggest names, including Blackstone Strategic Partners, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority on fund formation, regulatory and LP matters. On the sponsor side, Yukako Kawata is advising RoundTable Healthcare Partners on the launch of an equity fund and a subordinated debt fund, and assisted Lightyear Capital with the formation of a $950m fund targeting financial services investments as well as a co-investment vehicle. Kawata often works in concert with Leor Landa, who handles billion-dollar fund launches as well as SEC regulatory issues. Funds regulatory specialist Nora Jordan is also recommended.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP handles a range of significant fundraising mandates, with particular critical mass in international work. Jennifer Bellah Maguire in Los Angeles and Shukie Grossman, who is based in New York, advised Leonard Green & Partners on the formation of a $9.6bn buyout fund, while Grossman advised multi-family office ICONIQ Capital on a $1.25bn fund targeting data center investments. Also in New York, Edward Sopher acts on fund formation matters for clients including AE Industrial Partners, as well as advising Strategic Partners, part of The Blackstone Group, on a range of secondary acquisitions. William Thomas, who is based in Washington DC, is advising I Squared Capital on the formation and launch of an $800m Asia-focused fund. Manager M&A mandates included Sopher’s advice to StepStone Group on its acquisition of Swiss Capital Alternative Assets, which will add $5bn of assets under management to the buyer’s existing $14bn. Other clients include Graham Partners and Hamilton Lane.

Goodwin has particular strength in real estate funds covering a range of real estate investments, from office buildings and industrial land to more off-beat asset types. In Boston, David Watson advised Rubenstein Partners on an $800m real estate fund, which involved a complex REIT structure. In addition to its real estate credentials, the firm handles a wider range of PE-related matters, as demonstrated by Boston-based Thomas Beaudoin’s advice to Kreos Capital on an oversubscribed debt fund which hit its €400m hard cap. On the buyout side, Watson advised Advent International on a buyout fund which raised $13bn in capital commitments, making it one of the largest buyout funds raised since 2008. John Ferguson in New York and Paul Verbesey in Washington DC are also names to note.

Latham & Watkins LLP fields ‘a very deep team’ that attracts praise for its ‘outstanding service and excellent knowledge of the market’. Barton Clark led a team advising The Carlyle Group on a $1.5bn fund focused on energy investments. In another highlight, Andrea Schwartzman (‘a very strong lawyer and excellent adviser’) acted alongside Alan Van Dyke for Searchlight Capital Partners on the formation of a $1.9bn fund. In addition to mandates concerning debt funds, Kathleen Walsh advised new client Frazier Healthcare Partners on a buyout fund focused on mid-market healthcare investments. Also recommended are Washington DC-based David Greene, whose clients include Onex Corporation and Juniper Capital, and Nadia Sager in the San Diego office, who provides ‘outstanding service’.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP fields ‘experts in all areas of law impacting private investment markets, and understands institutional investors and their priorities’. The firm provides a ‘very responsive’ service when it comes to fund formation, and also attracts praise for the ‘superior service’ it provides to institutional investors seeking limited partner positions. Georgette Schaefer (who is ‘able to distil complex issues into very clear advice’) advised a pension plan on a $130m investment in a business development company. In other highlights, Boston-based Gerald Kehoe advised Lime Rock Resources on the creation of a $754m fund focused on energy assets, while Paul McCoy in New York advised TIAA on the launch of a $1.2bn real estate fund. McCoy leads the practice along with Louis Singer, who ‘knows his clients well and anticipates their needs’. Also recommended is Peter Phleger in San Francisco, whose work includes funds-of-funds matters and venture capital investments.

Proskauer Rose LLP has particular strength in funds-of-funds; in an illustration of its expertise in this arena, Robin Painter and Sarah Cherry advised Commonfund Capital on several such launches, and Sean Hill, Michael Suppappola and David Tegeler are advising Lexington Partners in this space. The firm also has an extensive track record in buyout fund work, with Suppappola and Howard Beber advising Ridgemont Equity Partners on a $1bn buyout fund. Other areas of expertise include mezzanine funds, separately managed accounts and venture capital funds. Stephen Mears and David Jones advise General Catalyst Partners on the venture capital front. Other clients include Ares Management, JP Morgan and Aberdeen Asset Management. The team, which is led by Beber and Hill, is based in Boston.

Alongside its strong hedge fund practice, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP handles a range of work for private equity managers, with particular strength in real estate funds as demonstrated by Joseph Smith’s advice to the UK arm of The Children’s Investment Fund Management on the creation of several funds investing in real estate debt on both sides of the Atlantic. Other clients include LCN Capital Partners, Mauá Capital and Westport Capital Partners. Also recommended are Stephanie Breslow, who has handled numerous fund launches involving investments into non-traditional asset classes; Phyllis Schwartz and Omoz Osayimwese, who have an extensive track record of large-scale fund launches; and Marc Elovitz, who is a name of note for compliance matters.

At DLA Piper LLP (US), David Goldstein led a contingent advising MC Credit Partners on the formation of a credit fund and Brazilian manager BGL Fund Management on the launch of a $350m fund. Other key figures include Victor Levy (‘engenders trust and confidence in his clients’) and Richard Ginsberg, who handle significant fund formation work; and Richard Reilly, who advises placement agents and ‘can always be trusted to represent the clients’ best interests’. Fund-of-funds clients include China Orient Asset Management International. Other than Chicago-based Ginsberg, the named lawyers are located in New York.

Paul Hastings LLP’s ‘extremely supportive, responsive and knowledgeable’ practice has particular strength in cross-border work and a track record advising on mandates involving non-traditional investments. New York-based Josh Sternoff (‘very practical and grasps the issues very quickly’) regularly acts for Apollo Global Management and AEW Capital Management, the latter of which he advised on the final closing of a $450m Jersey-based fund formed to invest in Asian real estate. Also in New York, Thomas Rao is advising Primary Wave Music on a fund seeking to invest in music copyrights. The firm fields funds capabilities on both coasts: in Palo Alto, Rob Carlson (who ‘provides balanced advice and works with the issues’) advised Nyca Investment Fund, a venture capital fund focused exclusively on fintech, on the sale of limited partner interests. Also recommended are Tram Nguyen in New York and Yousuf Dhamee in Los Angeles, both new hires from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP.

Shearman & Sterling LLP has particular strength advising its general partner clients on real estate investments and investments into Latin America. In an illustration of the latter, practice head Laura Friedrich advised GTIS Partners, which has $3.3bn of assets under management, on a $750m fund focusing on Brazilian real estate investments. Friedrich also advises the IFC Asset Management Company on their fund launches, most recently assisting with the formation of a growth fund focusing on investments into emerging markets financial institutions. In other highlights, of counsel Paul Schreiber advised Torchlight Investors on the formation of a $1.5bn real estate debt fund, and counsel John Reiss advised Dome Equities on a fund investing in residential real estate across the US. Limited partner clients of the New York-based team include China Investment Corporation, Qatar Investment Authority and Mubadala Development Company.

Sidley Austin LLP’s ‘excellent’ practice attracts praise for its ‘professionalism and knowledge of the market’, as well as for its ‘excellent negotiation skills’. Timothy Clark advised Pine Brook Partners on the formation of a $2.5bn fund aiming to invest in the energy and financial sectors. Alyssa Grikscheit (who is ‘very professional; clients have a great working relationship with her’) advised Napier Park Global Capital on forming a fund to invest in railcar leasing. Other names of note include Scott Macdonald, who advises CIP Capital, and David Kreisler, who joined the Boston office in 2016 from Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Team members are located in New York unless otherwise specified.

From its New York office, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP handles a range of fund formation mandates, with particular strength in energy-focused fund work. Phillip Isom assisted Post Oak Energy Capital with forming a $600m energy fund and advised Bridge Growth Partners on its debut fund, which raised $410m. In an illustration of the firm’s ability to handle multi-jurisdictional mandates, Isom and Arash Farhadieh advised Sun Mountain Capital Advisors on a Mexico-focused fund-of-funds. Adrienne Atkinson is also recommended. Other clients include Ares Capital Management and Springbok Energy Partners.

Clifford Chance’s clients value the firm’s ‘deep industry knowledge, prompt turnarounds, market-driven commercial advice and practical legal guidance’. Roger Singer advised Madison International on a real estate debt fund with feeders in three countries; he also handles sales and purchases of limited partner interests on behalf of British pension funds. Other names of note include Clifford Cone and Kathleen Werner; Werner advised H/2 Capital Partners on the formation of a $1.5bn real estate debt fund.

Cooley LLP has a strong reputation for venture capital work and has grown its private equity practice with two significant hires: Ron Hopkinson in New York, who joined from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, and Eric Schwartzman, who joined in Palo Alto from Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Also recommended are John Dado and venture capital head Craig Dauchy in the Palo Alto office; Nicole Peppe in Boston; and Jordan Silber and Ian O’Donnell in San Francisco. Key mandates in 2016 included advising Founders Fund on the formation of a $1.3bn fund.

Covington & Burling LLP’s ‘excellent private funds team provides a strong combination of expertise, responsiveness and practicality’. Loretta Shaw-Lorello is ‘extremely knowledgeable, a great problem solver and an absolute pleasure to deal with’; she advised HUH Real Estate Partners on the creation of a real estate direct investment platform. In addition to handling sponsor-side work, the firm also handles a significant amount of mandates for investors, with William Sturman and special counsel Kelly Labritz singled out for their ‘thorough and knowledgeable’ advice to investors. The practice also handles a raft of venture capital work: Shaw-Lorello advised UCB on the formation of a €150m healthcare-focused fund-of-funds, as well as acquisitions of limited partner interests. All the named lawyers are based in New York.

Hogan Lovells US LLP handles a range of mid-market fund formation work. Washington DC-based practice head David Winter was part of a team advising Fall Line Capital on a $200m real estate fund, while Jeffrey Hurlburt in New York advised Northzone Ventures on a €300m venture capital fund. The formation of small business investment companies (SBICs) is a particular niche - Winter advised St. Cloud Capital Partners on the formation of a SBIC, which raised $250m to invest in both debt and equity in small companies. LP clients include International Finance Corporation.

Linklaters LLP’s New York office ‘demonstrates a strong understanding of clients’ needs and how to work efficiently with everyone to deliver results’. Justin Storms and newly promoted partner Andrew Ford advised key client KKR on its formation of a $3.65bn European buyout fund, which was the client’s first European private equity fundraise since the global financial crisis, while Lorna Bowen advised KKR Credit Advisors Ireland on a fund to buy existing loans across Europe. Scott Bowie is also recommended. Other clients include Deutsche Bank Asset & Wealth Management.

Morrison & Foerster LLP is ‘excellent to work with’ and particularly stands out for venture capital matters. Zeeshan Ahmedani in the Los Angeles office, a new hire from White & Case LLP, advises on significant technology sector fund formations, while in Palo Alto, Chip Lion and Stephanie Thomas (who is ‘hugely valued by clients for her technical and commercial input’) advised Longitude Capital on a $525m fund investing in start-up and established biotech and medical businesses. Outside of the venture capital space, Ken Muller in San Francisco and David Slotkin in Washington DC advised GLP on forming a $5bn fund to purchase a logistics portfolio. Sara Terheggen joined the San Francisco office from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

An up-and-coming player in the world of private equity’, is how sources describe the legacy practice of Chadbourne & Parke LLP, which is now part of Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP following the merger. The team, noted for its ‘extensive industry knowledge and ability to advise on almost all issues clients face’, has particular strength in Latin America, and advised Southern Cross Group Management on its fifth Latin America-focused turnaround buyout fund. Other clients include SCL Energía Activa and Bolivian Investment Management. Following the merger Beth Kramer and Scott Naidech moved to Winston & Strawn LLP.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP acts for managers on funds-of-funds, buyout funds and real estate funds investing inside and outside the US, and also assists with LP-side mandates. Clients include Colony Capital, CenturyLink and Shamrock Capital Advisors. Kathryn Sanders in Los Angeles and Timothy Clark in New York are names to note.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP advises a range of limited partners, including a number of West Coast-based public pension plans, as well as venture capital firms. In addition to handling a range of early-stage venture capital fund formation matters, New York-based Quinn Moss advised Washington State Investment Board on converting its $700m involvement in a multi-investor fund into a fund-of-one. In San Francisco, Dolph Hellman advised the San Francisco City and County Employees’ Retirement System on its investment in a biotech venture capital fund. Los Angeles-based of counsel Yong-Nam Jun has a particularly strong practice advising Asian investors.

Reed Smith LLPbrings a high level of commitment to complex and lengthy engagements’ and ‘deep, specialist knowledge in impact investing’, and handles a significant investor-side workload in addition to fund formations. New York-based partners James Mercadante (a ‘fantastic lawyer with a wide range of knowledge’) and Alexandra Poe jointly lead the practice; Poe’s highlights included advising the Washington State Investment Board on a $700m investment in a fund managed by Warburg Pincus. On the formation front, San Francisco-based Thao Ngo advised Nile Capital Group on the launch of a fund investing in emerging asset managers.

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