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United States > M&A/corporate and commercial > Private equity buyouts > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Private equity buyouts
  2. Leading lawyers: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading lawyers
  4. Next generation lawyers
  5. Rising stars

Rising stars

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Clifford Chance Ė Their Voices

Kirkland & Ellis LLP is widely praised for its ability to build strong teams across the US and, despite its willingness to bring in lateral hires, it 'has done a phenomenal job of moving people through the ranks and institutionalizing its client base'. It advises more than 450 private equity firms worldwide and a high proportion of the world’s largest private equity houses, with clients include Bain Capital, Blackstone, The Carlyle Group, KKR, Madison Dearborn, Thoma Bravo, TPG and Warburg Pincus. It consistently ranks at the top of the various buyout league tables by value and by volume. The team delivers 'excellent commercial and business judgment', 'a depth and breadth of team', 'strength across disciplines' and 'loyalty and accessibility'. 'Knowledge of market terms provides a significant competitive advantage', the team is 'very strong in structuring creative solutions to complex transactions', is able to 'synthesize complex issues into quick efficient conversations' and has 'an ability to focus efforts on issues that drive monetary value'. It advised Bain Capital on the $1.2bn sale of BMC Software to KKR and represented Apax Partners on the $2bn sale of its ownership stake in GlobalLogic to Partners Group. Jon Ballis is chairman-elect of the firm, in private equity he 'understands all the issues, but also has a bed-side manner': 'he can read the situation very well and is willing to push back on his clients and focus them on what they should focus on'. New York's Eunu Chun  'is always a pleasure to work with' and fellow New York partner Peter Martelli is another impressive figure who advises the likes of Blackstone, Pamplona Capital Management and Centerbridge Partners. Stephen Ritchie is 'a really good lawyer' and Los Angeles partner Rick Madden is 'incredibly competent', 'very efficient with his time' and clients 'trust his judgement implicitly'. Matthew Steinmetz, Walter Holzer, Sanford Perl, Richard Campbell and New York's Sean Rodgers, Michael Weisser and Leo Greenberg are also highly rated. It has also brought in further lateral hires, including New York's Jennifer Perkins from Latham & Watkins LLP and Steven Napolitano and Brendan Head from DLA Piper LLP (US). Further, Los Angeles-based Michael Woronoff, Monica Shilling, and Jonathan Benloulou joined from Proskauer Rose LLP in 2019. Named partners are based in Chicago unless stated otherwise.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has an illustrious reputation in the private equity industry, thanks in part to its long-standing relationships with the likes of Blackstone, KKR and Silver Lake Partners, as well as other managers such as EQT Partners, Centerbridge Partners, KSL Capital Partners and New Mountain Capital. It has worked on many of the biggest, most complex and headline-grabbing deals of the last decade and maintained this record in 2018 when it advised a Blackstone-led consortium on completing a partnership agreement with Thomson Reuters for Thomson Reuters’ Financial & Risk Business (F&R); the consortium now owns 55% of new company created to hold the F&R business. Marni Lerner heads the private equity group and remains a frequent adviser to KKR, including on its $9.9bn acquisition of Envision Healthcare. Gary Horowitz, another key relationship partner for KKR, is 'very practical' and 'gets to the finish line really quick without any unnecessary noise'.  Wilson Neely 'deserves the accolades' and remains close to Blackstone, while Palo Alto partner and 'really senior practitioner' Richard Capelouto is a regular counsel to Silver Lake and Hellman & Friedman. Anthony Vernace  is 'a really talented lawyer'. All partners are based in New York, unless stated otherwise.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has 'a very high quality practice', most notably in the healthcare, financial services, insurance, technology, media and telecoms sectors. The team is 'responsive and commercially adept', 'balances the business objectives of clients while being realistic about likely exposures, threats and issues, and has a proven track record of creatively designing structures and solutions'. The firm is consistently recognized for its private equity funds formation department, which has proved fundamental to the build-out of its client portfolio and the success of the buyouts practice. Additional strength in leveraged finance, employee benefits, executive compensation, tax, litigation and deep regulatory knowledge is key to the team's performance. Clients include Blackstone, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, The Carlyle Group, Cerberus Capital Management, Kelso & Co, Providence Equity Partners, Temasek and long-term anchor client Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R). Paul Bird is a senior figure within the sector, known for advising the likes of CD&R and Carlyle; he led the team that advised CD&R on its purchase of New York-listed Ply Gem Holdings through a $2.4bn take-private transaction. Kevin Schmidt is 'outstanding', 'a thoughtful business adviser', 'technically sharp', 'has a no-nonsense approach', 'is someone who looks to get the deal done by protecting the client's interests but focusing on what matters' and is 'thoughtful, energetic and responsive': he led the team that advised CF Corporation and Blackstone on the $1.83bn all-cash acquisition of Fidelity & Guaranty Life. Kevin Rinker has a notably strong record in healthcare deals and 'doesn't need to win every point just for the sake of it, but rather focus on what is most important'. Andrew Bab is a leader in healthcare deals and led the team that advised a consortium featuring TPG Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe (WCAS) on its $4.1bn acquisition of Kindred Healthcare, resulting in Kindred to operate as a standalone company with Humana owning 40% and TPG and WCAS taking a 60% share; Kindred’s LTAC hospitals, IRFs and contract rehabilitation services businesses became a separate specialty hospital company owned by TPG and WCAS. Gregory Gooding is 'very smart and pragmatic' and recommended for financial services deals. Jennifer Chu and Uri Herzberg are emerging names, as is Christopher Anthony, who was promoted to partner in 2018.

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Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP significantly expanded its private equity practice with the hire of four partners from Kirkland & Ellis LLP, including the eminent George Stamas and Mark Director, who divide their time between the firm's Washington DC and New York offices. The strengthened department boasts an impressive client base, which includes GE Capital, Littlejohn & Co, Aurora Capital Partners, L Catterton, Platinum Equity and Investcorp. The team advised GE Capital on the sale of a $1bn portfolio of equity investments to Apollo Global Management. It also advised Aurora Capital on its acquisition of Inhance Products, a provider of fluorine-based material technologies, from Arsenal Capital Partners. Sean Griffiths, Steven Shoemate and Los Angeles partner Ari Lanin head the team. Also in Los Angeles, Jennifer Bellah Maguire straddles both private equity fund formation and transactions, advising the likes of Leonard Green. Dallas partner and co-chair of the M&A practice Jeffrey Chapman is another key member of the team and is especially noted for distressed investments.

Latham & Watkins LLP¬†has an extensive private equity team, backed by a range of complementary skills from around the firm, such as leading acquisition and leveraged finance, regulatory and antitrust expertise. The firm has a close association with The Carlyle Group and a range of other private equity houses including BC Partners, KKR, GTCR, Hellman & Friedman, Leonard Green & Partners and Odyssey Investment Partners. The team provides 'extremely commercial counsel', 'endless energy', 'strong customer service' and 'identifies the right commercial outcome'. It has 'broad expertise and deep domain experience' and 'is comprised almost entirely of good, committed, moral and rational people who ably and zealously advocate for their clients'.¬†The New York and Washington DC offices dominate the practice in the US; the firm has an unrivalled standing in Washington DC where it manages relationships with the likes of Carlyle, Onex Partners and Platinum Equity. The sizeable team in New York is a match for most competitors in the city and has developed an especially strong reputation in the energy sector, often working with colleagues in Houston, on deals for the likes of ArcLight Capital and Energy Capital Partners. The Chicago and Boston offices are building their presence in the market, while the firm has successfully targeted West Coast-based clients such as Leonard Green & Partners and Platinum Equity. The firm's outstanding international presence was in evidence when Washington DC partner David Dantzic led a multi-office team that advised Carlyle Group and GIC on the ‚ā¨10.1bn acquisition of the specialty chemicals business of AkzoNobel. In another cross-border deal, the firm advised Leonard Green & Partners on its acquisition of CPA Global, the leading intellectual property management firm, from Cinven; after a hotly-contested auction, this was Leonard Green's first leveraged buyout in the UK.¬†Howard Sobel and Washington DC's¬†Daniel Lennon are the firm's most senior private equity names in the US, with Lennon noted for his longstanding connection to Carlyle. David Allinson is 'smart, extremely knowledgeable and incredibly experienced' and 'always provides thoughtful, cogent advice and a phenomenal service'.¬†Thomas Malone¬†is 'an extraordinary attorney who is best characterized by his dogged work ethic and fierce client advocacy'.¬†Paul Kukish,¬†Washington DC's¬†Paul Sheridan¬†and Chicago partner¬†Shaun Hartley¬†co-chair the global private equity practice; the latter two are 'very strong commercial thought partners, strong negotiators, and truly understand clients' businesses'. Alexander Johnson¬†has joined from Hogan Lovells US LLP.¬†The named partners are New York-based unless stated otherwise.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP impresses in on both large-cap and mid-market deals. It continues to be strongly associated with Apollo Global Management, along with a number of other prominent private equity houses such as General Atlantic, Kohlberg & Co, KPS Capital Partners and Oak Hill Capital Partners. 'Client service is second-to-none' thanks to 'first-rate lawyers' and 'excellent associates that are engaged on repeat matters' to ensure strong knowledge of the client. 'There are no weak players on the bench' in a team of 'unbelievably smart and engaged lawyers who fundamentally care about making sure clients are well looked-after'. The firm advised Apollo on a series of notable deals in 2018, including its $1bn acquisition of a number of energy sector investments from GE Capital; it also advised portfolio company MPM Holdings on its $3.1bn sale to SJL Partners, KCC Corporation and Wonik QnC. General Atlantic also provides the firm with a regular flow of instructions, including the recent $3.6bn sale of eviCore healthcare to Express Scripts. Taurie Zeitzer is at the forefront of the firm's relationship with Apollo and has exceptional heavyweight deal experience. Matthew Abbott, the lead relationship partner for General Atlantic, is 'one of the best M&A lawyers of his generation' and 'a firm but likeable negotiator who instills confidence at the highest levels of clients' organizations'. Neil Goldman is 'an extremely talented and thorough lawyer who will catch every issue, provide commercial advice, and always get the job done'. Angelo Bonvino is another key partner, advising the likes of Kohlberg & Co, KPS Capital and Oak Hill. Carl Reisner is hugely experienced private equity specialist and John Scott is another regular adviser to Apollo. Ellen Ching is also recommended by clients. The team is based in New York.

Ropes & Gray LLP's longstanding commitment to the private equity sector continues to bear fruit, with the firm now regularly representing over a third of the world's hundred largest private equity houses.  It remains closely associated with Bain Capital and TPG, and in 2018 continued to advise Bain Capital on its $18bn consortium buyout of the Toshiba's semiconductor business, the largest private equity and leveraged finance deal ever seen in Asia, which involved teams from its US, Tokyo, London, and Hong Kong offices. In healthcare technology deals, the firm also advised Summit Partners on its $1.2bn sale of ABILITY Networks to Inovalon Holdings. New York's David Blittner is co-chair of the private equity group alongside Will Shields in Boston; the latter is relationship partner for Bain Capital and is 'practical, commercial and down to earth'. Neill Jakobe 'has cultivated and grown the practice in Chicago' and 'has established himself as a top practitioner'. Jason Freedman is a key name in San Francisco, while Boston senior figure Alfred Rose is 'fantastic', along with fellow Boston colleagues David Chapin and Newcomb Stillwell who still provide tremendous gravitas.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is a global titan in the private equity arena and in the US boasts strong teams in New York, Boston, Dallas and Silicon Valley. It has more than seventy repeat financial sponsor clients in the US alone, and has looked to diversify the practice, building its standing in growth equity, middle market deals, special situations and SPAC transactions. It has also focused on alternative asset managers such as sovereign wealth funds and has a significant market share of Canadian pension fund clients. Key clients include Advent International, Blackstone, CPPIB, CVC Capital Partners, Centerbridge Partners, Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division, Providence Equity Partners and TPG. It advised CPPIB in a consortium that also includes Blackstone and GIC, on the consortium's $20bn acquisition of a 55% stake in Thomson Reuters’ Financial & Risk business. Doug Warner co-heads the department alongside Boston's Kevin Sullivan, with the former leading the firm's relationships with TPG, Centerbridge, CPPIB and CVC, while the latter heading the firm's connection to Providence Equity Partners, Francisco Partners and TA Associates. Kyle Krpata is a key figure in Silicon Valley, where he led a team that advised SoftBank Vision Fund on its $2.25bn minority investment in GM Cruise Holdings, a developer of self-driving vehicles, alongside a $1.1bn investment in Cruise by General Motors. Peter Feist is another experienced name and recently advised OMERS Private Equity and Berkshire Partners on their $3.85bn sale of Husky IMS International (Canada) to Platinum Equity. Glenn West is another prominent figure in Dallas and Boston's Marilyn French Shaw remains pivotal to the firm's relationship with Advent International.  Christopher Machera is an emerging talent and has a strong connection to Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division. All partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has a less strictly-defined private equity practice compared to its natural competitors, with its key partners operating across the corporate transactional spectrum. This approach has not diminished its capability of attracting big-name private clients, which include the likes of TPG, Warburg Pincus, Carlyle and The Raine Group. Moreover, it has succeeded in winning work from non-traditional sponsors such as sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and family offices; these include Temasek and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. The team advised Kindred Healthcare on its $4.1bn acquisition by a consortium of TPG Capital, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe and Humana; the company was then divided in two, with TPG and Welsh Carson taking exclusive ownership of some specialist assets including long-term acute care hospitals. In another headline deal, it advised Warburg Pincus and Allied Universal (a portfolio company of Wendel) on its $1bn acquisition of US Security Associates from Goldman Sachs. Paul Shim and David Leinwand are the senior figures in the team with both having a long track record of advising TPG and Warburg Pincus respectively. James Langston and Paul Tiger are increasingly prominent members of the private equity community.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP has continued to develop its standing in the private equity segment, covering a range of middle market and high-value buyouts. Key clients include Bridgepoint Capital, Corsair Capital, Crestview Partners, Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking, Metalmark Capital and Tailwind Capital. It impressed in a series of transactions in 2018, including when it advised Brookfield Business Partners on its $13.2bn acquisition, alongside Caisse de d√©p√īt et placement du Qu√©bec, of Johnson Controls‚Äô power solutions business.¬†It also advised Lightyear Capital on a series of deals, including its $140m acquisition of a controlling stake in Augeo FI from its parent company Augeo Affinity Marketing.¬†John Amorosi is the firm's most recognised private equity specialist in New York, where¬†Leonard Kreynin,¬†John Bick,¬†Michael Davis are all experienced in private equity deals.¬†Former partner Ronald Cami has become general counsel at Waypoint Capital.

Dechert LLP has further elevated itself in the private equity arena thanks to a series of headline and high-value transactions. Clients highlight the 'best-in-class' team's abilities in 'important and complex deals', where it provides 'valuable and insightful advice',  'a balanced commercial point of view' and a 'seamlessly integrated deal team'. It delivers a 'quick turn-around, responsiveness, precision and good internal communications across disciplines', and is praised for its 'understanding of investment parameters and risk tolerance combined with knowledge of the marketplace'. Building on its middle to upper-middle market credentials, it advised GIC on a strategic partnership between a Blackstone-led consortium (including GIC) and Thomson Reuters for the consortium to acquire a 55% stake in Refinitiv, the newly created entity to hold Thomson Reuters’ Financial & Risk (F&R) business. It also advised SK hynix, a Korean chipmaker, as part of a Bain Capital-led consortium which acquired Toshiba’s memory chip business for $18bn. It remains active in its classic middle to upper-middle market space and advised long-term client Court Square Capital Partners on the $2.02bn sale of Rocket Software to Bain Capital. Other clients include Bregal Partners, Centre Partners, Certares, MSD Partners and One Equity Partners. Chair of the global private equity practice Mark Thierfelder is 'very quick at understanding the issue', has 'enormous expertise', 'provides great insights and advice, is a shrewd and effective negotiator, is able to quickly staff appropriate resources, and is always responsive and available'. Philadelphia's Geraldine Sinatra is another senior member of the practice, as are Naz Zilkha, Markus Bolsinger, who is 'a good overall adviser', and Philadelphia partner Ken Young. Christian Matarese is 'a great young partner' and Gareth Clark is 'very knowledgeable, responsive, hard working and dedicated'. Jonathan Kim, 'an exceptional attorney' and Washington DC partner Bernado Piereck are 'terrific to work with'. Sarah Kupferman is 'a fantastic senior associate who runs transactions with confidence and will be a phenomenal M&A partner'. All partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP continues to advise some of the most notable clients in the market, including Goldman Sachs, AEA Investors and Permira. In 2018, it advised Permira on a series of transactions, including its $715m sale of BakerCorp to United Rentals and its $1.68bn sale of Magento to Adobe Systems. Robert Schwenkel is global head of M&A and private equity and has built connections to a range of prominent financial sponsors, including Permira and Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division. Christopher Ewan and Steven Steinman are co-heads of the private equity group, with both noted for their connection to AEA Investors and other key clients. Washington DC's Brian Mangino is another key figure within the practice who has also frequently advised Permira and Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division. Andrea Gede-Lange and Randi Lally are emerging talents. The named are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Proskauer Rose LLP has outstanding private equity credentials, not least because it is the primary counsel to Ares Management. Other clients include Alleghany Capital, Grey Mountain Partners and Mesa West Capital. The firm advised Grey Mountain on a series of deals including its sale of a majority stake Sunbelt Transformer, a power solutions company, to Trilantic North America. The firm's centre of private equity expertise lies in New York where Jeffrey Horwitz, who specializes in real estate and hospitality transactions, led a team that advised Alleghany Capital on its acquisition of a majority interest in Concord Hospitality Enterprises, a hotel management and development company.

In 2018, White & Case LLP added a Chicago office, bringing in experienced M&A and private equity experts Gary Silverman and Raymond Bogenrief from Greenberg Traurig LLP and Thomas Horenkamp from DLA Piper LLP (US); the new Chicago office also hired a number of real estate private equity specialists. The firm has 'an incredibly deep bench in all specializations', 'global reach and consistent high quality across offices', 'tremendously hard working lawyers' including 'high quality partners, very strong depth across both junior and senior levels'. The team continues to impress in middle market transactions and on occasion in the high-value leveraged buyout space. Key clients include CVC Capital, Brookfield Asset Management, Roark Capital, Harvest Partners, Global Infrastructure Partners and Investcorp. It advised Roark Capital and its portfolio company Arby’s Restaurant Group on the company's $2.9bn acquisition of fellow restaurant chain Buffalo Wild Wings. It also advised CVC Capital on its all-cash $1.8bn acquisition of ConvergeOne Holdings, an IT and managed services provider, from Clearlake Capital Group. Global head of M&A John Reiss and global co-head of private equity Oliver Brahmst lead the practice in the US. Energy and infrastructure specialist Jason Webber is 'highly commercial, has a unique ability to process, understand and solve complex legal issues quickly', and is 'one of the best negotiators'.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP continued to expand its team with the hires of Matthew Rizzo and Jessica Sheridan from Sidley Austin LLP, where Rizzo was a practice area team leader; the two have an especially strong record in healthcare and healthcare services deals. In addition, energy sector specialists Steven Torello and Archie Fallon have joined the Houston office from DLA Piper LLP (US) and King & Spalding LLP. The reinforced team has an especially fine record in the middle to upper-middle market. Department members are 'client-oriented', 'extremely talented, hard working, creative and commercial'.  Clients include Warburg Pincus, Insight Venture Partners, Court Square, Centerbridge Partners and Genstar Capital. The firm has advised Genstar Capital and its portfolio company Apex Fund Services on a series of deals, including Apex's multi-jurisdictional acquisition of Deutsche Bank Alternative Fund Services, among other financial services deals. It also advised Insight Venture Partners on a number of transactions, including its $1.16bn acquisition in Episerver. Other key partners include chairman Steven Gartner, and co-chairs of the private equity practice Jeffrey Poss and Neil Townsend; Poss is 'a fantastic partner', 'extremely commercial, very practical, very closely engaged on projects and able to efficiently leverage his team'. Co-head of the energy practice and Houston managing partner Bruce Herzog is another key contact. The named partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

DLA Piper LLP (US)'s geographic coverage and commitment to the middle market has ensured a growing pipeline of deals, most notably in the Southeast of the country, where Joseph Silver and new global private equity co-chair Joe Alexander are located in Atlanta and Miami respectively. Key clients include ABRY Partners, ICV Partners, RLJ Equity Partners and Baird Capital Partners. It advised ABRY Partner on the sale of Datapipe to Rackspace Hosting and its controlling shareholder Apollo Global Management. Chicago's Robert Davis and Atlanta partner Gerry Williams are also highly rated. Former co-chair of the private equity department Steven Napolitano and the former co-managing partner of the Chicago office Brendan Head departed for Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 2018;  Daniel Eisner, a former co-chair of the private equity department has also left the firm to launch OilCoin, a cryptocurrency based on oil reserves.

Goodwin's impressive national practice has strong teams in Boston, New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. It covers a range of transactions from growth equity to large leveraged buyouts and high-value exits. The team 'does a terrific job on technology sector transactions', 'brings a winning combination' through 'deep dives into all relevant aspects of a target's business', 'attentiveness to the complexities of the deal itself and super-responsiveness under often difficult circumstances'. In 2018, it enhanced its standing in Silicon Valley through the hire of Scott Joachim and David Johanson from Fenwick & West LLP; the two add particular expertise in fintech. Real estate and healthcare are also strong sectors for the national team. Clients include TA Associates, Pamplona Capital Management, Bain Capital Ventures and JMI Equity. Boston's John LeClaire and Michael Kendall head the practice alongside Andrew Weidhaas in Los Angeles, who is 'deeply knowledgeable and skilled, but also exceptionally user friendly'. New York partner Stuart Rosenthal led the team that advised Primus Capital on its $400m sale of portfolio company Hyperwallet to PayPal. Boston partner Jon Herzog is regularly advises TA Associates, which he assisted with its acquisition of software company Flexera. New York's Chris Nugent has 'an incredible sense of urgency and desire to achieve the best outcome'. San Francisco partner Brian McPeake is also recommended.

Jones Day has a tremendous record in the middle market, applying its deep resources and multiple US offices to great effect. The firm is also building its profile amongst the big-ticket buyout houses such as Blackstone, Carlyle and CVC Capital Partners. Other clients include Cortec Group, EagleTree Capital, One Equity Partners and The Riverside Company. New York partner Andrew Levine is global co-leader of the private equity group and advised EagleTree Capital on the sale of Paris Presents to Yellow Wood Partners. In Washington DC, Daniel Michaels led the team which advised Carlyle on the $4bn sale of Signode Industrial Group to Crown Holdings, and also assisted CVC Capital Partners with its $703m acquisition of Teva Pharmaceuticals' women’s health business outside of the US. Cleveland's James Dougherty, Charles Hardin and Denise Carkhuff are also recommended, as is Ira White in New York and Lisa Lathrop in Chicago.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP has a fine record in the mid-market, thanks to prominent teams in Philadelphia, New York and Orange County. It has notable strength in specific areas such as energy, technology, life sciences, healthcare, retail, financial services and distressed investing. Team members 'act like true partners', 'are very hands on, accessible and commercial in their approach', are 'smart, efficient, good value for money, focus on the things that matter and explain them in clear English'. Clients include Apollo Global Management, Ares Management, Arsenal Capital Partners, Platinum Equity, Freeman Spogli & Co and Sun Capital Partners. The team is led by two experienced partners in Philadelphia's Barbara Shander, who is 'an  A+ lead partner', 'always available and thoughtful', 'manages the transaction process very well and is effective at winning the points that matter the most', along with Orange County-based James Loss, who is 'arguably one of the best M&A lawyers in the world', 'extremely knowledgeable from a legal point of view but also very commercial and practical'. Shander headed the group that advised Sun Capital Partners portfolio company Aclara Technologies, on its $1.1bn sale to Hubbell Power System while Loss led the team that advised Platinum Equity on its $2.1bn acquisition of Johnson & Johnson’s LifeScan business. In Boston, Mark Stein 'balances technical expertise with seasoned business judgment' and is recommended for healthcare and life sciences deals. New York's Alec Dawson is another key member of the team and Orange County partner Randall Wood is also praised by clients.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP's deep transactional pedigree and extensive dealmaking team makes it a popular choice for private equity houses such as Permira, Veritas Capital, TPG Capital, Apax Partners and Kelso & Company. It has worked on a series of headline deals for Permira, including its acquisition of Evonik Jayhawk Fine Chemicals from Evonik Industries. It also advised Veritas Capital and its portfolio company Verscend Technologies, on Verscend's $4.9bn take-private acquisition of Cotiviti Holdings. Kenneth Wolff is co-head of the global private equity practice, which includes Joseph Coco, Sven Mickisch and Todd Freed. All named partners are based in New York.

Vinson & Elkins LLP continues to lead the way in energy industry private equity, and notably advises number of big-name buyout funds, as well as a growing number of financial sponsors. Major clients include Apollo Global Management, Blackstone Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs, KKR, Riverstone and TPG Capital. The team advised TPG Growth on its $1.2bn sale of Discovery Midstream to a newly-formed joint venture between KKR and Williams. It also advised Global Atlantic Financial Group on its $1.17bn acquisition of a 33% minority interest in Southern Power's solar portfolio. Key names include corporate practice head Keith Fullenweider, who has advised the likes of TPG Capital, Blackstone and Crestview Partners. Co-head of the M&A group Matthew Strock and co-managing partner of the New York office James Fox are also prominent practitioners.

Arnold & Porter operates primarily in the mid-market, though acts in larger-cap deals too for marquee clients such as American Securities and Onex. Castle Harlan has joined a client portfolio that includes DC Capital Partners, Endeavor Capital, EQT Partners, JW Childs Equity Partners and Halifax Capital Partners. In addition, the firm also advises independent sponsors, family offices, sovereign wealth funds and hedge funds on private equity-style investments. The team advised American Securities on the sale of Unifrax to Clearlake Capital Group. Emanuel Cherney is close to American Securities and Joel Greenberg has a strong connection to Onex. Stephen Koval and is also recommended, as are Kevin Lavin and Andrew Varner - unlike the rest of the team, who are based in New York, Lavin and Varner are based in Washington DC.

Choate, Hall & Stewart has an established mid-market practice. Though based in Boston, it has private equity clients that hail from across the US. Clients include Century Equity Partners, Columbia Capital, Great Hill Partners, Mainsail Partners, Riverside Partners, Spectrum Equity and Summit Partners. It advised Mainsail Partners on its acquisition of, and growth investment into, PestRoutes, a technology provider to pest control companies. It also advised BV Investment Partners on its purchase of a majority stake in of Consero Global Solutions. TJ Murphy and Lee Feldman head the practice, which includes Brian Lenihan, the co-chair of the corporate department.

Hogan Lovells US LLP has a broad private equity practice, with core centres of expertise in Northern Virginia, Denver, Houston and California. Despite the departure of Alexander Johnson in New York to Latham & Watkins LLP in early 2019, the firm has built on its fine record in certain sectors such as life sciences, healthcare and financial services. Having expanded its team in northern California in recent years, it has seen further growth in technology deals; notably it advised Silver Lake Partners on the sale of Quorum Business Solutions to Thoma Bravo in 2018. Key clients include Acon Investments, Excellere Capital Management and The Anschutz Corporation. Northern Virginia partner Robert Welp and Denver's George Hagerty are the most senior members of the private equity team, while Denver partner Mark Kurtenbach and Houston's Gregory Hill are also key figures.

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP's buyouts practice is largely centred in Chicago, but also features expertise located in New York and Los Angeles, and in 2018 it established a Dallas office, adding several new partners and clients. Key clients include Frontenac Company, Victory Park Capital, Pfingsten Partners and Prairie Capital, with HIG Capital and Equity Group Investments new names. While the firm itself has outstanding healthcare credentials, the private equity practice crosses additional industries such as manufacturing and distribution, food and beverages, consumer goods, logistics and financial services. It advised Pfingsten Partners on its acquisition of drone maker Lumenier. 'Smart lawyer' Kenneth Miller and Kimberly Smith head the team, with Martin Ruhaak and Christopher Atkinson also highly rated. All named partners are based in Chicago.

King & Spalding LLP has increased its emphasis on private equity in recent years, with considerable success in energy, infrastructure, healthcare and life sciences deals. Bringing a team with him, Jonathan Melmed joined the New York office in 2018 from Morrison & Foerster LLP, becoming co-chair of the private equity practice alongside Rahul Patel in Atlanta. The expanded group now advises clients including Arcapita Group, Brookfield Infrastructure Group, DE Shaw, HIG Capital, OMERS Private Equity and Starwood Energy Group. It is 'extremely practical and provides solution-oriented legal advice from partners to associates', is 'extremely well-coordinated', has a 'very broad skill set with all required specializations' and is 'user-friendly'. Melmed led a team that advised Starwood Energy on its $1.2bn agreement to acquire two combined-cycle gas turbine plants with a combined output of 1.7GW from Dominion Energy. In another headline deal, the firm advised Brookfield Infrastructure Group on its $1.1bn acquisition of 32 internet data centers in twelve countries across five continents from AT&T.  Atlanta partner Raymond Baltz 'appreciates the environment that clients operate in', is 'adept at providing technical legal analysis to in-house lawyers as he is giving business-oriented legal advice to non-lawyers' and 'appreciates the business relationship between client and counterparty'.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP has strong mid-market credentials, advising the likes of Perella Weinberg Partners, BlackRock and Shamrock Capital. It advised Stone Point on its $340m acquisition of the Rialto Investment and Asset Management from Lennar Corporation. It also advised Stone Point on its acquisition of a majority interest in Genex Services from Apax Partners. Howard Spilko is especially close to Stone Point, while James Moriarty has a range of private equity house relationships, including with Quad Partners, which he advised on its sale of Rubicon, the provider of Atlas curriculum management, to Faria Education Group. Ernest Wechsler is another key partner.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP is deeply embedded in the middle market, with dedicated private equity buyout teams in Chicago, Miami, New York and Washington DC. The firm is especially noted for its record in the healthcare sector. The team is 'great across the board', 'consistently smart, responsive and commercial' and is 'a go-to firm'. Key clients include HIG Capital, Quad-C Management, Peak Rock Partners and Great Point Partners. A team led by Miami partner Roy Larson advised MEDNAX on its acquisition of Synergy Radiology Associates, a Houston-based radiology provider. Brooks Gruemmer is noted for his impressive client relationships, including HIG Capital, a client that is also supported by the Miami office, notably key Miami partner Harris Siskind, who heads the private equity team alongside Andrew McCune in Chicago. The Miami team advised HIG on a series of deals, including its purchase of IT company Iron Bow Holdings. Miami's Frederic Levenson and Eric Gilbert 'are both extremely strong' and are 'trusted to deliver a high level of legal advice'. Laurence Bronska  is another prominent name. All partners are based in Chicago, unless stated otherwise.

McGuireWoods LLP operates in the middle market, most notably in the healthcare, food and beverage, and energy sectors. While having a rich portfolio of classic private equity firm clients, it has a fast-growing practice driven by independent sponsors. It 'has the breadth of resources to serve all needs of a private equity firm'. Chicago, Charlotte and Dallas house the core of the US private equity practice, along with Pittsburgh, New York and Los Angeles. Anchor clients include Sheridan Capital Partners, Revelstoke Capital Partners and Source Capital. It also advised Charlotte-based Falfurrias Capital Partners on a series of recent transactions, including investments in Best Impressions Caterers, E-Technologies Group, Tax Guard, Plasma Solutions, SixAxis and its divestment from Advanced Control Solutions. Chicago-based Geoffrey Cockrell heads the private equity team alongside David McLean in Dallas. Charlotte partner Christopher Nesbit and Pittsburgh's Thomas Zahn are also key partners. Dallas-based Jon Finger 'is not only a great lawyer, but a superb business person'.

Morrison & Foerster LLP has impressive mid-market and large-cap credentials, particularly in its San Francisco office. Its large-cap work is primarily associated with anchor client SoftBank, which it advised on its $7.7bn primary and secondary investment in Uber, as part of the company's $9.3bn sale of stock. In the middle market space, it advised Windjammer Capital portfolio company Flinn Scientific on its acquisition of WhiteBox Learning. Other key clients include Alpine Investors, Francisco Partners, Main Post Partners and Vision Ridge Partners. Key partners in the team are Dario Avram, Patrick Huard and Eric McCrath in San Francisco, Alex Kaufman in Palo Alto, and Denver-based Erik Knudsen. Former in the New York office, Jonathan Melmed has joined King & Spalding LLP.

Paul Hastings LLP has developed a strong presence in California and Chicago, with the latter office's practice in large part driven by private equity-related business. The firm has yet to build a prominent private equity team in New York, but has a number of New York-based clients such as Cortec Group. The firm typically operates in the middle to upper-middle market and has an especially strong record in healthcare and life sciences. The buyouts team is supported by the firm's broad expertise and resources, including tax and borrower-oriented debt finance expertise. Other key clients include GI Partners, Francisco Partners, HIG Capital and Vector Capital.  The team advised GI Partners on the acquisitions of Consilio from Shamrock Capital Advisors and Advanced Discovery from Trivest. Chicago-based Brian Richards leads the department, which includes Mike Kennedy, Steve Camahort and Dana Kromm in San Francisco, and Brandon Howald and William Simpson in Orange County.

Winston & Strawn LLP has a sizeable mid-market practice with strong teams in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston. The mature and well-established practice is increasingly involved in non-traditional transactions, such as specialty lending and secondary buyouts. It operates across industries including healthcare, digital media, consumer products, logistics, and food and beverage. It is 'a very unified firm with partners that like each other, and quality is consistent through the practice areas and offices',  'a global firm that provides exceptional client service' and 'competitors respect and fear the firm when on the other side of the table'. The firm advised Upstream Rehabilitation, a portfolio company of regular client Revelstoke Capital Partners, on its add-on acquisition of Drayer Physical Therapy Institute. It also advised Brightstar Capital Partners on its acquisition of QualTek USA, in partnership with QualTek senior management. Bradley Vaiana has an extensive client portfolio and is a prolific deal maker in the middle market, as is fellow New York partner Dominick DeChiara, while Los Angeles partner Eva Davis and Chicago's Matthew Bergmann are also key figures. Justin Levy is an up-and-coming name in New York.

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