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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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The 'highly experienced, motivated and practical' Catherine Duffy 'brings a wealth of sector knowledge' to her role as head of the practice at A&L Goodbody. The team is noted for its expertise in aviation finance; highlights included Duffy and Séamus Ó Cróinín advising Gecas on the creation of a $2bn global aircraft financing programme with CDPQ, and Ó Cróinín and Maireadh Dale acting for Wave 2017-1 on an asset-backed security (ABS) to acquire a portfolio of 19 aircraft. The practice has a large Chinese client base; Marie O’Brien recently assisted Sichuan Development Holding with the establishment of an aircraft leasing joint venture with Standard Chartered and the purchase of a portfolio of aircraft. David Berkery and Maria McElhinney are also noted.

At McCann FitzGerald, the team's 'industry and legal expertise is unquestionable', particularly in the aviation sector. Practice head Catherine Deane is 'the lawyer to go to for aviation finance and leasing in Ireland'; she advised SAS on the establishment and licensing of an Irish airline, as well as the leasing of a number of aircraft. Clients include a number of operating lessors; Hilary Marren acted as Irish counsel to AerCap on four unsecured bond offerings totalling approximately $3.6bn, and the 'stand-out' Georgina O’Riordan assisted Aircastle Advisor with the financing, purchase and leaseback of 11 Airbus aircraft. Joe Fay, whose clients include Nordic Aviation Capital, 'very talented' associate Shauna Maguire, and New York-based senior associate Richard Gill are also key contacts.

Walkers' team 'understands the unique requirements of the client's business and is very good at thinking outside the box'; it focuses on the financing, leasing and trading of aircraft, as well as other transportation assets. Practice head Ken Rush 'stands out as a top-tier lawyer' thanks to his 'rigorous legal approach and customer-focused relationships'. Rush advised CDPQ on the establishment of a $2bn global aircraft financing platform with Gecas, and, alongside of counsel Killian McSharry, assisted Castlelake with an ABS transaction used to finance a portfolio of aircraft. David McGovern, who 'makes clients feel like they are his only customer', has particular expertise in non-traditional markets such as Korea; he advised KTB Investment and Securities on the acquisition of an aircraft by an Irish SPV.

The team at Maples Group specialises in the aviation sector; it acts primarily for aircraft owners, leasing companies and financiers, but also handles work for airlines. Assisted by the firm's Cayman team, London-based practice head Donna Ager advised key client Avolon on the issue of a recent aircraft ABS, and also acted for Falko, Investec Bank and Everbank Commercial Finance as original lenders on a $60m aircraft refinancing. Dublin-based Aaron McGarry and of counsel Mary O’Neill are also highly active.

Mason Hayes & Curran has extensive experience in aviation finance; its client list is made up of major commercial airlines, aircraft manufacturers and lessors, investors and financial institutions. Christine O’Donovan, who specialises in international transactions, heads the practice; she recently acted for the Export-Import Bank of China on the $450m financing of two Airbus 380 aircraft for Minsheng Financial Leasing and its group. Senior associate Sarah Harmon, who also handles shipping finance, is recommended.

The team at Matheson handles aircraft and aircraft engine leasing and financing, as well as transactions involving motor car, ship and rail assets. Practice heads Rory McPhillips and Stuart Kennedy acted as Irish legal counsel to Sprite 2017-1 on a three-tranche $585m ABS to fund the acquisition of a portfolio of 21 aircraft, and Kennedy also advised China Development Bank Financial Leasing on a $492m secured portfolio financing facility covering 14 aircraft. The team also advises airlines. Yvonne McWeeney, who was promoted to the partnership in January 2019, is also noted.

William Fry handled a number of high-profile aviation leasing and financing transactions for clients including airlines, leasing companies and banks. David Maughan heads the practice; he advised an overseas bank on the financing of the acquisition of a portfolio of aircraft by an aircraft leasing company and its Irish subsidiaries, and assisted British Airways with an approximately $608.7m enhanced equipment trust certificate transaction. Mary Ward acted for a global aircraft leasing company on the lease and financing arrangements relating to the acquisition of two aircraft.

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