The Legal 500

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

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United States

Top-tier recommendations


  • United States: Intellectual property > Copyright
  • United States: Real estate and construction > Real estate

Latin America: International firms

Top-tier recommendations


United States: Finance

Within Asset finance and leasing, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s focus might be narrower than other firms in the top two tiers, but for what it does, which is representing airlines, it is unquestionably second to none. This ‘outstanding’ expertise is born out by its ongoing representation of American Airlines, on all related matters, as well as Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways. The ‘highly knowledgeable and responsive’ practice is headed by John Curry who is praised for his ‘exceptional intellect’. Others singled out for praise include counsel Emily DiStefano for her ‘knowledge of the industry’, and Raymond Wells for being a ‘go-to resource’. American Airlines has inevitably provided the largest flow of work over the past year as a result of its Chapter 11 proceedings, which involved the restructuring of complex financing and purchase arrangements for over 1,000 aircraft. In spite of the ongoing chapter 11, the firm has also represented American Airlines on the financing of the largest aircraft order in aviation history, involving the acquisition of 460 narrow-body single-aisle aircraft from Boeing and Airbus. The firm also recently represented Delta Air Lines in seven separate EETC offerings raising over $875m.

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Within Bank lending (including other sources of financing), tier 4

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is ‘an excellent firm with excellent lawyers and excellent value, even considering it is New York-based’. The firm is extremely popular for sponsor-led mandates, particularly on the private equity side where it is one of the very best in the market, representing some of its largest players, including Oaktree Capital Management and Providence Equity Partners. While the team covers every type of product, it is ‘beyond the basics where it truly distinguishes itself’. Group head David Brittenham and William Beekman are ‘best in breed’, providing ‘technically strong, cohesive and very commercial’ advice. The ‘careful and diligentPaul Brusiloffis very experienced from a restructuring and capital structure point of view and can be a single source solution to all our questions’. Clients also have a ‘high degree of trust’ in Jeffrey Ross, who is ‘exceptional on both the financing and the M&A front’. Recent highlights include advising The Carlyle Group on the financing of its $3.3bn acquisition of Getty Images, as well as Clayton, Dubilier & Rice on the financing of its $1.05bn acquisition of David’s Bridal. The firm also saw plenty of activity on the corporate borrower side, and the highly experienced Pierre Maugüé advised Reynolds Group Holdings on its $3.25bn note offering, which was the third-largest single-tranche issue on record in the high-yield market.

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Within Capital markets: debt offerings , Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

Second to none in terms of business acumen and the strength of its team’, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has strong debt capital markets experience, spanning investment-grade and high-yield debt offerings. It provides ‘incredibly practical and clear advice’ to issuers and underwriters, and the firm can also draw on its private equity expertise. Aviation and insurance remain key sectors of focus for the team, and the ‘practical and insightfulAlan Paley and Peter Loughran continue to co-head the firm’s securities group. Among recent highlights, Paley and Paul Rodel advised Westpac on several offerings related to its $20m global covered bond program, and Loughran advised Principal Financial Group on three separate offerings, each of $300m senior notes. Rodel is particularly noted for his experience in Latin America, and in 2012 he represented Globo Comunicação e Participações in two Rule 144A/Reg. S offerings, as well as advising Itaú Unibanco on notes offerings totaling $5bn as part of the bank’s MTN program (together with Loughran). Elsewhere, Matthew Kaplan acted for Warner Music Group in the offering of $500m 6.000% senior secured notes due 2021 and the offering of $1.75m 6.250% senior secured notes due 2021 by WMG Acquisition Corp, and Ethan James represented Prudential Financial in a $1bn offering of 2.997% class A notes due 2015 of the Prudential Covered Trust 2012-1. James also acted for Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan as representatives of the initial purchasers in two senior notes offerings of total $1bn by Liberty Mutual. The ‘very knowledgeable and responsiveSteven Slutzky, together with Pierre Maugüé, advised Reynolds Group on its $3.25bn offering of 5.75% senior secured notes due 2020. The ‘clear and concise’, Paul Brusiloff is recommended, and clients praise the team’s ‘first-rate’ service.

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Within Capital markets: equity offerings , Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a second tier firm,

Always very responsive to clients’ questions and needs’, Debevoise & Plimpton LLPhas an excellent equity practice with significant experience and capability’. The team is adept at providing assistance to issuers and underwriters on a range of securities transactions and advisory matters, and clients are ‘always confident that the legal counsel provided reflects not just the current state of securities law, but also the specific characteristics of clients’ cultures and industries’. A team led by Matthew Kaplan recently advised Warner Music Group in the offering by WMG Acquisition of $500m of 6% senior secured notes due 2021. Kaplan ‘exhibits significant knowledge and thoughtfulness in his responses’, and is ‘a trusted advisor who inspires great confidence’. Steven Slutzky and Pierre Maugüé advised Reynolds Group in its $3.25bn offering of 5.75% senior secured notes due 2020. Another highlight for the team was representing Clayton, Dubilier & Rice as selling shareholder in the $419m secondary offering of common stock by Sally Beauty Holdings. The transaction was led by Peter Loughran, with assistance from David Brittenham and Paul Brusiloff. Jeffrey Ross and Paul Rodel are also recommended.

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Within Capital markets: global offerings , Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

With extensive experience in both transactional and advisory securities work, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has offices in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Shanghai and Hong Kong, with close collaborative relationships with firms across South America. The capital markets department ‘has an excellent equity markets practice with significant experience and capabilities’, with one client stating that ‘we never feel that we are anything less than its most important client given the speed in which the firm returns calls and responds to requests for written advice or drafts’. A team including John Vasily and Peter Loughran worked with the firm’s Hong Kong offices in the representation of American International Group in its $6bn sale of a portion of its controlling stake in AIA Group Limited in March 2012. Steven Slutzky also led a team including lawyers from Frankfurt and London in the representation of Reynolds Group in its $1.25bn offering of 9.875% senior notes due 2019.

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Within Capital markets: high-yield debt offerings , Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

The ‘all-round excellent’ team at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP demonstrates ‘significant experience and capability’ in advising issuers on high-yield debt offerings. The firm continues to act for many private equity clients, drawing on its expertise in this area, and it is experienced in advising sponsors and portfolio companies in high-yield debt offerings related to leveraged buyouts. Highlights included Steven Slutzky representing Reynolds Group in its $1.25bn offering of 9.875% senior notes due 2019, and Peter Loughran and David Brittenham advising The ServiceMaster Company on its $600m offering of 8% senior notes due 2020. Loughran and Jeffrey Ross advised Clayton, Dubilier & Rice on a $200m offering of 10% senior notes due 2020 by Roofing Supply Group. Ross is singled out for his ‘knowledge, thoroughness and commitment to client service’. Elsewhere, a team featuring Slutzky, Brittenham and Paul Brusiloff, acted for HD Supply regarding a $675m offering of 11% senior secured second-priority notes due 2020, a $950m offering of 8.125% senior secured first-priority notes due 2019, a $757m offering of 14.875% senior notes due 2020, and a $300m offering of 8.125% senior secured first-priority notes due 2019. Alan Paley is ‘highly proactive in monitoring legal and industry developments’, and Matthew Kaplan and Paul Rodel are recommended.

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Within Corporate restructuring (including bankruptcy), tier 4

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP attracts rare praise from clients who single out the firm as being ‘appropriately humble’, and ‘I feel that it believes that it needs to work hard to provide value, earn trust and best support its clients’. Lawyers ‘exceed expectations’ in areas such as ‘breadth of expertise and quickly gained in-depth business understanding’. In particular, clients praise Richard Hahn for his ‘outstanding grasp of the issues, judgment, diplomacy and communication skills’, and Steven Gross has a ‘razor-sharp mind’ - together Hahn and Gross co-chair the team from New York. Recent work demonstrates the firm’s strong experience in Chapter 11 cases, out-of-court restructurings, distressed asset transactions and cross-border bankruptcies and clients include debtors, creditors, acquirers and other parties involved in complex insolvency matters. Aviation is a firm sweet spot and it represented American Airlines as special aircraft financing counsel in its Chapter 11 case, which involved the restructuring of complex financing and purchase arrangements relating to over 1,000 aircraft. On the cross-border side, the firm’s strong international presence was evidenced by its work for Culligan, where the New York office acted in conjunction with London and Paris to advise the international water treatment company and its affiliates in the restructuring of more than $700m in funded debt. Natasha Labovitz and Michael Wiles also attract praise from clients.

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Within Financial services: litigation, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

Praised for its ‘creativity and excellent judgement’, Debevoise & Plimpton LLPexcels at handling complex matters’ that require a multi-disciplinary approach, and in particular where it is able to bring in lawyers from its market-leading white-collar and regulatory enforcement groups. The inclusion of a number of lawyers with former governmental regulatory experience ensures that the group has tremendous credibility in matters including both a criminal and civil enforcement component. Led by the ‘excellent’ Andrew Ceresney and also including the ‘very experienced and commercially orientatedSean Hecker, the firm is representing JPMorgan Chase in state and federal regulatory investigations surrounding its mortgage acquisition and securitization practices. The firm is also noted for its ‘superlative knowledge of the insurance industry’ and under the guidance of Mark Goodman recently successfully secured the dismissal of all claims brought against monoline insurer Security Capital Assurance (now Syncora Holdings) and four of its former officers in a case alleging a failure to disclose exposure to subprime mortgage risk. Goodman also continues to represent Amit Vijayvergiya, former partner and Chief Risk Officer of hedge fund firm Fairfield Greenwich, in civil litigation and regulatory investigations relating to the Bernard Madoff matter. Former lynchpin of the white-collar practice Mary Jo White left in March 2013 to head up the SEC.

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Within Financial services: regulatory, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

Superlative on all counts’, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP provides ‘first-class’ advice across a range of complex banking, insurance, broker-dealer and investment management matters. The ‘collaborative nature’ of the lawyers ensures that they ‘work with the client instead of "for" the client’, and the team is an excellent choice for those seeking a commercial approach on a range of standalone compliance advisory, financial institution M&A and enforcement matters. At ‘the cutting-edge of regulatory advisory and transactional issues’, the esteem with which the firm is held in the area is underscored by its representation of a plethora of trade bodies including the Private Equity Growth Capital Council and the Risk Management Association across Dodd-Frank and Basel III issues. Paul Lee is key to much of this work as a result of his ‘overarching knowledge of the rules’. ‘The very personable and approachableGregory Lyons is ‘extremely responsive and knowledgeable about the industry and its players’ and handles a plethora of banking compliance work as well as an increasing volume of M&A mandates within the sector. Formerly at the Federal Reserve Board, Satish Kini also benefits from deep knowledge of the industry and is praised for his ‘expeditious responses’ to clients such as Safra, which he is providing ongoing operational and general compliance advice relating to a range of banking and securities regulatory matters. Although the firm has successfully broadened the scope of its financial institutions group, it remains best-known for its expertise within the insurance sector, where both Nicholas Potter and John Vasily are regularly at the heart of some of the most significant M&A transactions in the industry. Vasily is advising Prudential Financial on its $615m acquisition of The Hartford’s individual life insurance business, and Potter recently acted for Pan-American Life Insurance on its acquisition of select businesses and assets from MetLife in the Caribbean, Panama and Costa Rica. David Luigs is also recommended for providing ‘well-thought out and strategic advice’ across a myriad banking, securities, consumer financial protection and mortgage-related matters. Other clients include AIG, Citibank and UBS.

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Within Project finance, tier 4

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is particularly noted for its niche capability in PPP transport infrastructure projects, which supplements its excellent mining, electric power, oil and gas and petrochemical work in Latin America, Russia, and other emerging countries, as well as in the US. The team acts as counsel to sponsors, equity investors and lenders, and counts large corporations among its clients. Highlights included assisting: Footprint Power with its acquisition of the Salem Harbor coal and oil fired power station; Sithe Global Power with the sale of its 50% stake in cycle power generating facility Goreway station; and Mitsui in its joint venture with Codelco to acquire 29.5% of Anglo American Sur. On the lender side, the team continued to represent the US Department of Energy on the closing of the $1.2bn senior secured financing for the Mojave Solar Power Project sponsored by Abengoa Solar, and the $1.45bn loan guarantee for the Solana Solar Power Project in Arizona. Douglas Buchanan QC recently joined the New York office as co-head of the firm’s global infrastructure and project finance group. New York-based partners Darius Tencza, Ivan Mattei and Craig Bowman are all recommended.

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Within Structured finance , tier 4

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s structured finance department ‘keeps track of all of the moving pieces to make sure the deal closes on time’. Byungkwon Lim leads the firm’s New York hedge funds derivatives and structured finance group, which includes four other corporate and tax partners and some 15 counsel and associates. In conformity with the firm’s overall market position, the group has a particular expertise in derivatives and structured finance transactions relating to insurance and investment management products. In securitization, the departmental niche is in aircraft and shipping-related issues. Pierre Maugüé is ‘an excellent team leader, and deals well with time-pressure’, and William Beekman is ‘responsive throughout highly complex series of transactions’. Christopher Rosekrans, counsel in New York, specializes in structured finance, and ‘picks ups the case and runs with it, he’s great to work with’. The group recently advised container giant Cronos in a series of securitization transactions in which parts of the Cronos cargo container fleet were transferred to a special purpose vehicle, which then issued a total of $450m notes each backed by the containers and related assets. Active clients of the practice group include American Airlines, Norilsk Nickel, US Foods, Goldman Sachs and Swiss Re.

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United States: Industry focus

Within Environment: transactional and regulatory, tier 4

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s environmental work is covered as a component of its corporate department. Its expertise lies in representing private equity firms and industrial companies (especially in the paper and packaging sectors) on a wide range of deals, which in recent years have become increasingly global in scope. This cross-border work requires the team to act on large cases assessing the environmental risks, regulations, liabilities and effective due diligence before any deal is finalized. Its recent work includes acting for Footprint Power in acquiring the Salem Harbor power station, one of the few deals to purchase a coal and oil-fired power station. It also advised Kelso & Company on its acquisition of Nivel Holdings, a distributor of golf car accessories; and International Paper on its $4.3bn purchase of Temple-Inland.

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Within Insurance: non-contentious, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a first tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s ‘world-class’ insurance industry practice has not only strong national but also increasingly global capabilities. It continues to cover great volumes of transactional and regulatory work, and handles some of the most complex insurance matters. Insurance and reinsurance companies, brokers and investment banks use the firm for their ‘most significant matters’ and benefit from a strong integration across disciplines, including M&A, capital markets, corporate governance, executive compensation, investments, bankruptcy, restructuring and tax. Besides continuing to work for longstanding clients such as Goldman Sachs, AIG and Cigna, the firm was also particularly active for Prudential in 2012. Co-chair of the financial institutions group Nicholas Potter led his team, including Ethan James, in one of the largest pension-risk transfers made in the US: namely, advising Prudential in a pension plan termination funding transaction with General Motors. Another team from the New York office represented the client in a resecuritization of real estate mortgage investment conduits and related $1bn offering of class A notes. John Vasily is currently advising on Prudential’s acquisition of The Hartford’s individual life insurance business. Partners ‘respond promptly, have strong knowledge of the issues, and provide good analysis to assist in making decisions and choosing strategy’. The Washington DC team expanded with new counsel Amanda Greenwold Wise, who is a former US Department of Treasury official and ‘brings years of experience working with regulations affecting the insurance industry’.

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United States: Intellectual property

Within Copyright, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a second tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP leverages off its reputation in handling complex, high-profile litigation matters to take on some notable copyright cases regarding the issue of first impression alongside advising on licensing and transactional matters related to emerging technologies and new media. IP litigation head Bruce Keller and managing partner Jeffrey Cunard both ‘try out novel theories in taking on some of the most complex cases’. Keller, Cunard and counsel Michael Potenza are representing a group of major broadcasting companies as plaintiffs in a closely watched copyright infringement case against internet streaming service Aereo, which recently went to a Second Circuit appeal. Keller and Cunard also settled a copyright infringement case on behalf of publishing groups and the Association of American Publishers brought against defendant Google regarding the digitization of books from US libraries. More recently, Keller obtained a successful appeal decision for defendants Sony Pictures Television and A&E Networks, which rejected an infringement claim brought by a freelance photographer regarding a copyrighted photo that was copied by the television film Who is Clark Rockefeller?

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Within Trademarks: litigation, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a first tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is ‘excellent for high-value, complex trademark litigation’. The practice successfully represented the defendant in Christian Louboutin v Yves Saint Laurent, which was a high-profile dispute on color trademark and trade dress protection and infringement issues regarding red outsoles on fashion footwear, with an appeal decision affirming a district court ruling. It acted for Pernod Ricard-owned brands in an appeal hearing of the Stolichnaya vodka litigation. Ongoing representations include defending beverage maker BodyArmor in a trademark infringement case brought by sports apparel company Under Armour alleging that the client copies the plaintiff’s name, logo and marketing. David Bernstein is widely seen as a leading name in high-stakes trademark cases. Both Bernstein and Michael Schaper are ‘very much in tune with their client needs, find creative solutions and are strategically minded’. Bruce Keller is well regarded for leading on complex soft IP litigation matters.

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United States: Investment fund formation and management

Within Alternative/hedge funds, tier 4

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s work in the hedge funds arena continues to draw strong praise, and is increasingly moving out of the shadow of its powerhouse private equity capability to be considered a go-to firm for fund sponsors and investment advisory businesses including Oaktree Capital Management and Ramius Alternative Solutions. The practice covers a wide variety of strategies, including distressed debt, equity long-short funds, fixed income, and emerging markets, and handles both domestic and offshore structures. It also handles structuring investment terms for sovereign wealth funds and other sophisticated investors. The firm’s dedicated derivatives and structured finance group also handles trade agreements and complex fund-linked products for funds of funds and financial institutions. Byungkwon Lim heads the practice.

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Within Private equity funds, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a first tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s team of 50 lawyers is roundly considered ‘one of the best in the PE fund formation; few firms have the same depth of practice in this area’. The size of the team makes it one of the largest, and the depth of its expertise means it advises a wide variety of GP sponsors such as The Carlyle Group, as well as institutional investors, on formation and investment, tax, ERISA, and regulatory compliance matters. Despite the ongoing challenges faced by the private equity sector, 2012 saw the practice advise on several multibillion-dollar fundraisings, including representing Oaktree Capital Management on its formation of Oaktree Opportunities Fund IX, a $4.7bn global fund which was the world’s largest distressed debt fund on the market. It also represented Global Infrastructure Partners in the formation of Global Infrastructure Partners Fund II, an $8.25bn infrastructure fund which was the largest global infrastructure fund raised to date. Energy was another key theme, with the team acting for EIG Global Energy Partners in its formation of Energy Fund XV, a $4.1bn fund specializing in power, energy and energy-related infrastructure investments. It is also heavily involved in regulatory issues, with practice co-chair Michael Harrell and Kenneth Berman representing the Private Equity Growth Capital Council on the implementation of regulatory changes affecting the private equity industry arising from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Erica Berthou is ‘very committed and has excellent judgment’. Jennifer Burleigh has ‘very deep subject matter expertise and is incredibly responsive’. Fellow co-chair David Schwartz and tax expert Peter Furci are also recommended.

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United States: Labor and employment

Within Employee benefits and executive compensation, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a second tier firm,

At Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, the ‘overall level of service is excellent’. Known for its expertise in corporate governance, ERISA, tax (including Section 409A) and securities laws, its particular strengths include compensation issues that arise in M&A and business formation transactions particularly for private equity funds and investment management firms. The firm advised the Carlyle Group in its acquisition, in partnership with Getty Images management, of Getty Images from private equity firm Hellman & Friedman for $3.3bn; and represented Prudential Financial, in the proposed sale to General Motors Retirement Plan of a group annuity contract that will provide annuity payments for certain General Motors salaried retirees as part of its plan to reduce pension obligations by $26bn. ‘The team is able to keep up with our needs; it brings a level of expertise in nuanced areas of the law that are critical to our analysis of business and legal risks’. In Lawrence Cagney’s group, Elizabeth Pagel Serebranskyis particularly good’, and Jonathan Lewis is praised for his ‘creative and practical approach’.

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Within Labor and employment litigation, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s labor and employment litigators focus on high-stakes executive disputes. Key areas of expertise include wrongful termination (whistleblower and discrimination claims); corporate raiding; executive contracts and compensation; and advice on sensitive investigations. ‘It is very competent and you get what you pay for’. ‘The overall level of service received was excellent’. The firm serves as national counsel to JPMorgan Chase in connection with a number of distinct complaints filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act; is representing Syracuse University in an investigation and litigation arising out of allegations of child sexual abuse by a former employee of the school; and in Durante v Kellner DiLeo & Co, the firm successfully defended a hedge fund business in a putative class action brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law alleging systematic failure to pay overtime and spread-of-hour wages. It negotiated a favorable settlement after first obtaining dismissal of all state law claims. Jyotin Hamidwas exceptional in terms of service level, value, and professionalism’. Mary Beth Hogan and Edwin Schallert are also recommended.

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United States: Litigation

Within International arbitration, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a first tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s 68-strong international dispute resolution group is ‘definitely one of the best’ and ‘covers the waterfront’, undertaking both arbitration and all associated litigation and public international law matters. ‘Well organised, with high service levels, and demonstrating professionalism, experience and deep industry knowledge’, the practice acts for clients such as Exxon Mobil, General Electric and GlaxoSmithKline. Results speak for themselves: last year saw the team win a $1.8bn ICSID settlement on behalf of Occidental. Other investor-state work has seen the team acting on behalf of: Perenco against Ecuador; Exxon Mobil against Canada (in a case under NAFTA regulations); and Tethyan Copper against the Republic of Pakistan in a case with both ICSID and ICC aspects. On the commercial side, the current caseload includes representing a major retail business, Grupo Diniz, and investment group GLG Partners, in separate ICC cases seated in Sao Paolo. Group co-chairs Donald Francis Donovan and David Rivkin have reputations that precede them: ‘they are both such extraordinary lawyers, they really are people to be reckoned with: pound-for-pound - superb’. Mark Friedman is ‘very good, deeply experienced and attentive to every detail’. He splits his time between London and New York. ‘One of the brightest lights’ of the younger generation Catherine Amirfaris an extraordinarily good technical lawyer and advocate’, who ‘quietly decimates witnesses without their ever knowing it’. Primarily Asia-focused Christopher Tahbaz splits his time between New York and Hong Kong, and Dietmar Prager, who was recently promoted to the partnership, has a strong Latin American - and more specifically Brazilian - aspect to his practice.

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Within Securities: shareholder litigation, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has ‘a great team of litigators - totally professional and client-oriented’. The securities litigation group is co-chaired by New York’s Edwin Schallert and Washington DC-based Colby Smith, who achieved the dismissal of securities claims against Russian mining and metals company Mechel. The group has excellent cross-border case management and has a strong following of both national and international corporations and financial institutions. Expertise in the insurance sector is particularly well-developed; clients include MetLife, which New York’s Maeve O’Connor has represented in numerous securities class actions and derivative suits concerning accounting practices for unclaimed life insurance benefits. Andrew Ceresney who ‘never misses an issue, turns out outstanding work product, and manages to project a sense of gravitas well beyond his age’, is one of several partners who combines SEC investigation expertise with securities litigation. Clients also recommend Gary Kubek.

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Within White-collar criminal defense , Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a first tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is ‘recommended very highly’, and in particular, for ‘large white-collar or securities enforcement matters’. This ‘wonderful practice’ is ‘simply outstanding for timeliness, knowledge, value, and depth of strength across the team’. It was recently instructed by former chairman and CEO of Bank of America Ken Lewis, in a lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General following the bank’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch. It also represented JPMorgan Chase in investigations conducted by several state and federal agencies into its mortgage acquisition and securitization practices. The group’s expertise is not restricted to the financial arena; having recently advised a well-known technology corporation and, in a separate matter, the independent directors of News Corp, relating to allegations made against the company. It is also active within the healthcare space (where clients include Tenet Healthcare and Merck) and various other industries. The firm ‘has some superstars’, such as Bruce Yannett, who heads the group from its New York headquarters, but saw the departure of one of its stalwarts, Mary Jo White, who was appointed as chair of the SEC in early 2013. The newly promoted Andrew Levine is ‘smart, responsive, collaborative and sharp in his advice’. Also recommended are Andrew Ceresney, Matthew Fishbein and Sean Hecker. Robert Kaplan recently joined the Washington DC office from the SEC.

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United States: Media, technology and telecoms

Within Technology: data protection and privacy, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s cross-border, interdisciplinary team provides regulatory counseling in the US and Europe, defends clients in government enforcement actions and handles data security and privacy litigation. Clients include ABC, Direct Brands, ESPN, Hulu, Viacom, Siemens and Sony Music Entertainment. Recent instructions relate to data sharing, data breaches, regulatory and internal investigations and internal data policies. Bruce Keller and his team advised a risk management company on Fair Credit Reporting Act matters and a music company in consumer class actions and government investigations around its software. Jeffrey Cunard led the settlement negotiations. Jeffrey Jacobson and his team successfully represented MySpace in an electronic privacy putative class action. Satish Kini advised a major banking organization on cross-border data safeguarding practices and customer privacy notices. Andrew Ceresney is assisting a US bank with an internal investigation relating to the loss of back-up tapes containing customer information. Colby Smith is advising on internal investigations of major global companies on compliance with EU data protection laws.

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Within Telecoms and broadcast: transactional, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a second tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s 35-lawyer media group, led by Richard Bohm and Michael Gillespie, undertakes M&A and capital markets work for major national and international clients. The telecoms group is integrated into the firm’s corporate practice and supported by its intellectual property strength. Gillespie represented the independent directors of News Corporation regarding investigations arising out of allegations regarding News of the World. William Regner and Jeffrey Rosen represented Verizon Wireless in its $3.6bn acquisition of Advanced Wireless Services spectrum licenses, and Verizon Communications in its $612m acquisition of Hughes Telematics. Paul Bird and his team are acting for The Carlyle Group in a partnership agreement with Getty Images management to acquire Getty Images for $3.3bn. Bohm represented Ronald Lauder in a series of agreements between Central European Media Enterprises and its major shareholders Time Warner and Ronald Lauder, to fund offers to purchase an aggregate of $300m of its debt. Other clients include Alibaba,, Globo Organization and NBC Universal.

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United States: Mergers, acquisitions and buyouts

Within Antitrust, tier 5

Acting for clients such as Providence Equity Partners and Mitsui, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s antitrust practice is led by New York attorneys Daniel Abuhoff and Gary Kubek. Principally made up of litigators, with substantial merger experience, the ‘very good’ team handles government investigations, price-fixing class actions, acquisition approvals, and represents antitrust plaintiffs in court. Recent work highlights include a number of mandates for Reynolds Group Holdings (formerly known as Rank Group); notably, Abuhoff and the newly promoted Michael Schaper advised the global manufacturer and supplier of beverage and food packaging products on the antitrust aspects of its $6bn acquisition of rival Pactiv Corporation. The team also assisted the client with its acquisition of both Graham Packaging Company (a leading supplier of plastic packaging) and Dopaco (a foodservice packaging company). Other noteworthy instructions included representing The Association of American Publishers in antitrust-related copyright litigation over Google’s plan to scan full-text books; and acting for Amazon in its acquisition of Quidsi, the owner of and Of counsel Kyra Bromley is also recommended.

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Within M&A: mega-deals ($5bn+), Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s M&A lawyers consistently lead transactions for some of the world’s most prominent corporations, financial services institutions and private equity firms, and has strong experience in complex, leveraged acquisitions and cross-border transactions across a range of sectors. The practice advised Access Industries, as part of a consortium with Apollo Global Management and Riverstone Holdings, in its $7.15bn acquisition of the oil and gas exploration, and production, assets of El Paso, which were sold in connection with Kinder Morgan’s $38bn acquisition of El Paso. Other key deals included assisting The Carlyle Group, in a partnership agreement with Getty Images management, to acquire Getty Images, from private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, for $3.3bn; and representing Hertz Global Holdings in its proposed merger with Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, under which Hertz would acquire Dollar Thrifty in a transaction that is valued at $2.3bn. Corporate chair Jeffrey Rosen, co-chair of the corporate department and M&A group, Paul Bird, and co-M&A group chair, William Regner, are recommended. Bird is an ‘excellent lawyer, who leads a well-honed M&A team that is highly effective and efficient’. Margaret Andrews Davenport, Jonathan Levitsky, Nicholas Potter, Kevin Rinker, Kevin Schmidt and John Vasily are also well regarded. Michael Diz was promoted to partner in the firm’s New York office.

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Within Private equity buyouts, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a first tier firm,

Clients regard Debevoise & Plimpton LLP as a ‘top-tier’ firm in the private equity field thanks to its impressive ‘intellectual capital’. Many also value the ‘close-knit partnership’ that creates a ‘special relationship’ with the client and fosters an ‘exceptional service’. This ethos has solidified the firm’s status amongst many private equity clients. It remains closely associated with cornerstone client Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), but other bulge-bracket funds are increasingly turning to the firm. In 2012, it represented The Carlyle Group on its headline $3.3bn acquisition of Getty Images. The firm’s private equity credentials were further recognised when it was appointed to advise the special committee of the board of directors of Dell during founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake’s $24bn bid to acquire the computer technology company. Other key clients include DE Shaw, Harbinger Partners, HarbourVest Partners, Kelso & Company, Providence Equity Partners and Stone Point Capital. While eminent private equity specialist Franci Blassberg has now retired from the partnership and is now of counsel to the firm, it does retain a deep bench of senior practitioners that have solidified many of the firm’s core private equity client relationships. Peggy Andrews Davenport is close to CD&R and Kelso, and Paul Bird has cemented the Carlyle relationship. Kevin Rinker regularly advises Morgan Stanley Private Equity, CD&R and Providence. Kevin Schmidt is another big name who is close to Kelso and HarbourVest, and ‘spectacular lawyerJeffrey Rosen is also important for Carlyle, as well as various other private equity relationships. Clients also point to the firm’s peerless funds practice, with Michael Harrell singled out for his expertise in ‘fund formation’, ‘limited partner alignment’, ‘governance’ and ‘transparency issues’. Beyond this the firm has a formidable sponsor-oriented finance practice and has bolstered its regulatory and investigations expertise with the hire of Washington DC partner Robert Kaplan, the former co-chief of the asset management unit at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s division of enforcement.

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United States: Real estate and construction

Within Real estate, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a third tier firm,

Practice chair Peter Irwin and Nicole Mesard are the two partners in the real estate group at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, following the retirement from the partnership of Steven Alden, who remains as of counsel. Its strengths include single-asset, trophy transactions. Irwin led the advice to Rockefeller Group International and Mitsubishi Estate New York’s third joint venture, acquiring and financing class-A office tower 50 Beale Street, San Francisco. Mesard advised major client the Westfield Group on the $1.154bn sale of seven US shopping malls to a Starwood-led consortium. The firm also acted for Westfield in its $1.225bn investment in retail development areas at the World Trade Center site; JPMorgan Investment Management in a joint venture with Hines Holdings to develop a class-A New York office building to be known as 7 Bryant Park; Beacon Capital Partners in the joint venture acquisition and financing of 195 Broadway; and Carmel Partners in its joint venture acquisition of a California mixed-use development. Oaktree Capital Management, Tishman Speyer and UBS Wealth Management are also clients.

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United States: Tax

Within Domestic tax: East Coast, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a second tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s ten-partner East Coast team is ‘extremely creative, very responsive’ and a ‘pleasure to work with’. Led by Burt Rosen, the firm is strong in transactional matters and ‘one of the best firms for domestic and international tax in the private equity fund formation arena’. Peter Schuur has a ‘deep and clear knowledge’ of US and international tax and is leading the advice to Footprint Power in its agreement with Dominion Energy to acquire the coal and oil-fired Slalem Harbor Power Station. Other work highlights included the firm’s representation of American Airlines, as special aircraft financing counsel, in its pending New York-based chapter 11 case involving the restructuring of complex financing and purchase arrangements relating to over 1,000 aircraft. Seth Rosen is ‘one of the best tax lawyers in the country’, and the ‘extremely responsiveVadim Mahmoudov is also recommended.

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Within International tax, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a first tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is ‘one of the best for international tax’ and the ‘knowledge, timeliness and innovation’ of the team continues to be ‘best in class’. In addition to the team in New York, the firm calls on partners in Hong Kong, Paris, Frankfurt and London to support its international work. Burt Rosen chairs the department, and Peter Schuur has a ‘deep and clear knowledge of US and international tax and a very commercial outlook’. Schuur led the advice to Pan-American Life Insurance in its acquisition of select businesses and assets from MetLife in the Caribbean, Panama and Costa Rica. The firm advises clients across a diverse range of industries on tax solutions for complex M&A, fund formations, joint ventures, restructuring and financings. In other work, David Schnabel advised Access Industries as part of a consortium with Apollo Global Management and Riverstone Holdings, in its $7.15bn acquisition of the oil and gas and production assets of El Paso. The ‘client-focusedSeth Rosen is also recommended.

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Latin America: International firms

Within Capital markets, tier 6

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s Latin America capital markets practice is primarily based around two major Brazilian issuers, Globo Comunicação e Participações (Globopar) and Itaú Unibanco. Beyond this, the firm’s large private equity and investment fund platform in New York brings capital markets transactions when their sponsor clients exit from their investments. In 2011, the firm represented The Capital Group as selling shareholder on the IPO of Arcos Dorados Holdings, the world’s largest McDonald’s franchisee. On the debt side, transactions range from straight debt to exchangeable notes. In April 2012, the team represented Globopar on a series of debt transactions, including a $300m international offering of senior notes and a $200m offering of senior secured exchangeable notes. Key partners include senior New York practitioners and Spanish speakers Paul Rodel and Peter Loughran, the latter being co-chair of the firm’s securities group. The Latin America team also features a number of Portuguese speakers.

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Within Corporate and M&A, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a second tier firm,

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has been active in Latin America for over 50 years. The depth of experience at the firm is highly valued by clients who attest that it is ‘absolutely fantastic’. The firm prides itself on delivering intense partner focus. From the firm’s Latin America practice group, a team of seven New York-based partners offer advice on corporate and M&A matters; ‘they provide quick answers that are to the point’. The firm’s client base includes some of the most prominent companies and families in Latin America as well as multinational corporations and private equity funds investing in the region. Work highlights include representing Principal Financial Group in its acquisition of AFP Cuprum, a leading pension manager in Chile; advising Companhia de Bebidas das Ameìricas (Ambev) on its $1.24bn acquisition of indirect control of Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana and its strategic alliance with E Leoìn Jimenes to create a leading brewer in the Caribbean, as well as Ambev’s combination of business activities in Venezuela with Cerveceria Regional. It is also acting for Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM) in the sale of a stake in CBMM to a consortium of five Chinese companies for $1.95bn and on a separate sale to a consortium of Japanese and Korean companies for the same value. The firm also acted for Mitsui in its agreement with Corporacioìn Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco) to form a joint venture that will own 29.3% of Anglo American Sur shares and seal a broad strategic agreement to jointly undertake businesses in Chile and abroad. Leader of the firm's Latin America practice group Michael Gillespie is ‘a fantastic lawyer’. Co-chair of the financial institutions M&A group Gregory Gooding and co-chair of the energy and natural resources group Maurizio Levi-Minzi are also highly reputed experts in this field. Ezra Borut and John Vasily are also recommended.

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Within Projects and energy, tier 4

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP represents project sponsors, developers and equity investors, as well as project lenders, including commercial banks, financial guaranty insurance companies, many of the US insurance companies active in the project finance area and multilateral development agencies, including the IFC, the Inter-American Development Bank and Corporacioìn Andina de Fomento. Energy and natural resources projects in Latin America are a particular area of strength, and the firm is also active in mining finance. The firm recently represented Mitsui in its agreement with Corporacioìn Nacional del Cobre de Chile. The firm is representing the lender in the Autopista Los Libertadores project in Chile, in connection with the change of ownership structure, including the replacement of the sponsor; and is acting for the lender in the Ruta del Maipo project in Chile in connection with the implementation of a congestion toll pilot programme requested by the Ministry of Public Works. Representing the sponsor, the firm is advising on the joint exploration arrangements for the development of copper deposits in Colombia. Ivan Mattei and senior counsel Doug Buchanan QC, co-chair of the firm’s global infrastructure and project finance group. Doug Buchanan QC, joined the firm in 2013 from Davis LLP. Maurizio Levi-Minzi and Sarah Fitts are key contacts in the firm’s energy and natural resources group. Craig Bowman, Ezra Borut, Christopher Smeall and Darius Tencza are also recommended.

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Latin America: International firms: International arbitration

Within International arbitration , Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a first tier firm,

Lauded for ‘very high and consistent quality’, the ‘absolutely fantasticDebevoise & Plimpton LLP fields an international dispute resolution team of 67 lawyers distributed across eight offices. ‘A remarkable practice’, it had a resounding victory in late 2012, when an ICSID tribunal handed down the largest ever bilateral investment treaty (BIT) award: $1.8bn (expected to rise to $2.3bn with interest), against Ecuador and in favour of its client Occidental Petroleum. The team is also representing Perenco against the same sovereign respondent (Ecuador) in a $3.5bn case ($1bn original claim and $2.5bn in environmental counter-claims), which reached the merits stage in late 2012; Covington & Burling LLP acted as co-counsel on both cases. Other notable investor-side work included representing Pueblo Viejo Dominicana in a dispute with the Dominican state. It also remains counsel to Holcim in a suspended case against Venezuela, pending the fulfilment of a negotiated settlement of $650m; and is advising EM Ltd on the enforcement of a $728m award against Argentina. On the commercial side, the team is representing Brazilian retail-sector giant Grupo Diniz in a pair of ICC cases valued at over $400m against a European joint venture partner; and acting for investment fund GLG Partners in a series of ICC cases seated in Sao Paulo. With a client base drawn from a broad array of sectors, capacity in public international law (PIL) matters and arbitration-related litigation, and even currently handling a constitutional challenge to ‘anti-arbitration’ litigation in Belize, the practice is ‘undoubtedly at the top of its game’. ‘A crack international specialist’, Donald Francis Donovan is ‘one of the best arbitrators and lawyers in this field’. He is currently lead counsel to Tethyan Copper, a Chileno-Canadian joint venture in parallel ICC and ICSID cases against the Pakistani state. His fellow co-chair of the firm’s international dispute resolution group, New York-based David Rivkin, is hailed as ‘an absolute star’. Lead lawyer in the Occidental case, subsequently he has been elected to serve as a vice president of the International Bar Association. Active in the Diniz case, Catherine Amirfar also works closely with Donovan on public international law matters, including: the representation of Mexico in the US v Mexico (the ‘Avena’ case) at the ICJ; and UPM-Kymmene in relation to the ICJ decision in the Argentina v Uruguay pulp-mills case. Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, Dietmar Prager is increasingly active in Brazilian matters where his present caseload includes two commercial cases seated in Sao Paulo. The ‘ever visibleMark Friedman has significant involvement in Latin American work and is leading in the Perenco case.

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