Commercial lending in United States

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has a strong, multi-disciplinary borrower-side team with 'technical skills that are second to none'. Praised for its 'availability and responsiveness', the practice group was involved in several major global acquisition financings in 2018. In one example, the team advised Brazilian pulp and paper company Suzano Papel e Celulose on the $9.2bn financing linked to its merger with domestic rival Fibria Celulose. The team also advised Honeywell International on the $3.7bn financing for the spin-off of its transportation systems business, Garrett Motion, and the spin-off of its homes and ADI global distribution business, Resideo Technologies. Based in the firm's New York office, the practice group is jointly led by Meme Peponis ('unflappable and always working to find a creative solution'), Duane McLaughlin, and Amy Shapiro.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has an excellent reputation for advising private equity firms and corporate clients on complex financing transactions, including leveraged finance deals and high-yield debt offerings. The highly experienced partners David Brittenham and Jeffrey Ross lead the New York-based team, which also includes Ramya Tiller and Scott Selinger. Major highlights include advising Access Industries on the financing for its $5.6bn investment into the energy company Calpine, which was acquired through a consortium of investors that also included Energy Capital Partners and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, in a transaction valued at $17bn. Another key client is Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, which the firm advised, alongside Ply Gem Holdings, on the financing aspects of Ply Gem's $5.5bn merger with NCI Building systems.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

The highly-rated team at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is best known for its borrower-side work, where it is instructed by mid-market private equity houses and major corporations. In one matter, the team advised The Williams Companies, as borrower, on a $4.5bn senior unsecured facility to help finance its acquisition of all the publicly traded units of Williams Partners. Other highlights include acting for global infrastructure company AECOM in the refinancing of an existing $3bn credit facility, and advising real estate investment trust Welltower on a $1bn loan to help finance its $2bn acquisition of Quality Care Properties. In addition, the practice group has been increasingly active in the alternate lending space, having acted for lenders such as HPA Investment Partners and Direct Lending Investments. Aaron Adams jointly leads the team with Los Angeles-based global finance co-chair Linda CurtisJanet Vance is also recommended

McDermott Will & Emery LLP

McDermott Will & Emery LLP has a good track record of advising private equity houses and corporate borrowers in mid-market acquisition finance transactions. Recent highlights include advising HIG Middle Market on the financing for its $325m acquisition of therapy service provider Reliant Rehabilitation Holdings, and acting for Comvest Partners in relation to the financing for several acquisitions, including its buyout of craft yarn company Spinrite, and the takeover of Engage2Excel, a provider of employee recognition and consumer loyalty solutions. Other key clients include American Builders & Contractors Supply Co, TriplePoint Capital, and True West Capital Partners. The practice is jointly led by Michael Boykins and Stephanie McCann in Chicago, and Gary Rosenbaum, who is based in the firm's Los Angeles office.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Based in the firm's New York office, the 14-partner team at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP has an excellent reputation for borrower-related financings, particularly in the private equity sphere. Led by the extremely experienced Gregory Ezring, the team is regularly involved in some of the market's largest transactions. Recent examples include advising RCCH HealthCare Partners, an Apollo Global Management portfolio company, on the financing for its $5.6bn acquisition of LifePoint Health. In addition, the team acted for Berlin Packaging, an Oak Hill Capital Partners portfolio company, in relation to its $1.3bn financing for the refinancing of its existing debt. Other key clients include Roark Capital, Oaktree Capital Management and TowerBrook. Eric GoodisonThomas V. de la Bastide III, and Monica Thurmond are other names to note.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP has 'a strong team from top to bottom'stocked with lawyers who do ''an exceptional job distilling complex topics'. On the borrower side, the firm advised Brookfield Business Partners on the financing for its $4.6bn buyout of Westinghouse Electric Company, and also advised Interpublic Group on the financing for its $2.3bn acquisition of the consumer data aggregator, Acxiom Marketing Solutions. The team is ranked for its borrower work, but also has strong capabilities on the lender side, where it recently advised the Ad Hoc First Lien Lender Group on the Chapter 11 proceedings of Claire's Stores and the restructuring of almost $2bn in company debt. Leonard Klingbaum chairs the practice group, which includes experienced vice chair Jeffrey Goldfarb, and partners Viktor OkasmaaJoshua Deason, David Tarr and William Dye. Also recommended is Michael Niebruegge in Houston, who is noted for his energy-related financing work.

Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP

Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP has a dominant market position in the lending space, where it is regularly listed at the top of the league tables for deal value and volume. In 2017, the firm advised on 306 deals with an aggregate value of over $379bn, $360bn of which were in the leveraged lending space. The practice is led out of New York by the highly experienced partners Jonathan Schaffzin and Daniel Zubkoff, and boasts a selection of top-notch advisers, including James ClarkWilliam HartnettJennifer Ezring, Adam Dworkin, Douglas Horowitz, and Corey Wright. Of late, the firm advised JPMorgan Chase Bank and UBS on the $2.9bn debt financing for the concurrent acquisitions and subsequent merger of Ply Gem Industries and Atrium Windows and Doors, by private equity funds, Clayton Dubilier & Rice and Golden Gate Capital. The firm also has experience advising alternative lenders such as Jefferies Finance, Antares Capital, and KKR Capital Markets, which were among the lead arrangers on a $1.9bn loan to help finance Expres Oil Change & Tire Engineers' acquisition of Mavis Tire Express Services Corp.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

As one of the premier firms for lender-side work, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP has ironclad relationships with some of the country's largest financial institutions, which it regularly advises on investment-grade loans and complex financings and refinancings. The six-partner team also regularly sits on the borrower side of the table for its corporate clients, such as Qualcomm, which it advised on $6bn in facilities to finance its ultimately abandoned acquisition of NXP Semiconductors. The firm also acted on significant deals for Northrop Grumman and Time Warner. On the lender side it acted for JP Morgan in relation to $12bn of credit facilities provided to Dow DuPont linked to its separation into three companies and the spin-off of Corteva. Michael Goldman leads the team, which also includes corporate managing partner George ZobitzTatiana LapushchikJoseph Zavaglia, and Stephen Kessing.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is one of the go-to firms when it comes to market-leading lender-side instructions, leveraging strong relationships with financial institutions such as Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Jefferies. Recent highlights included advising the joint lead arrangers on over $5bn worth of facilities, as well as a $1.2bn bond offering, to help finance KKR's acquisition of Envision healthcare. In addition, the team advised the joint lead arrangers and bookrunners on a $26.7bn bridge loan facility to Cigna Corporation to finance its $67bn acquisition of Express Scripts Holding Company. The firm has also become increasingly active on the borrower side, both for corporates and private equity funds. Recently it advised Comcast on a £16bn bridge facility and £7bn unsecured loan agreement linked to its £22bn takeover battle for Sky in the UK. On the private equity side, the practice group advised Brookfield Business Partners on the $11.5bn financing of its $13.2bn acquisition of the Power Solutions business from Johnson Controls International. James Florack and Jason Kyrwood jointly lead the team, which includes Meyer Dworkin, Kenneth Steinberg, Monica Holland and Sartaj Gill, who is recommended for his work on the borrower side.

Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins LLP is one of the premier choices for borrower and lender work, with top-notch teams of lawyers spread throughout its US network of offices. The borrower side of the practice, which is particularly active in Washington DC thanks to its relationship with Carlyle Group, acts for a broad mix of private equity houses and corporates. Recently, the team advised CommScope, a US communications cable maker backed by Carlyle, on the financing of its $7.4bn takeover of Arris, the UK-based entertainment and networking equipment maker. Other key clients include Caesars Resort Collection, which it advised on a $1.7bn bond offering to finance existing debt. The firm's cross-border capabilities and strong banking relationships were demonstrated by its advice to JPMorgan Chase, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and MUFG Bank as lead arrangers on the $30.9bn bridge credit facilities to Takeda Pharmaceutical Company to partly fund its acquisition of Shire. Other banking clients include Credit Suisse, Citibank, and Antares Capital. New York-based banking practice chair Daniel Seale jointly leads the top-tier team alongside vice chairs Greg Robins in Los Angeles and Stephen Kensell in London. Other key figures include New York managing partner Michèle PenzerChristopher PlautMelissa Alwang, and Scott Gottdiener on the lender side. Jeffrey R. Chenard and Joshua Tinkelman are also recommended for their borrower side advice.


Milbank has 'a very high quality' lender-facing practice that enjoys huge respect throughout the market. Practice group leader Marc Hanrahan is one of the best known and most experienced leveraged finance lawyers in the market, and his team is packed with star names including Marcus DoughertyLauren HanrahanMichael BellucciJerome McCluskey, and the recently promoted Charles Stern. The firm was involved in several major deals, which included advising Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Credit Suisse, and Jefferies as lead arrangers on the financing of Cerberus Capital Management's acquisition of Subsea Communications. The firm also advised the lenders, including Goldman Sachs, Jefferies and Macquarie Capital on KKR's multibillion-dollar acquisition of BMC Software. In another standout highlights, the team advised the lenders on The Carlyle Group and GIC's multibillion-dollar buyout of AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Few will dispute the top-tier status of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, which is among the market leaders for borrower and lender-led financings, including LBOs and strategic buyouts. The practice group also has strong teams in sector-specific areas such as energy. Borrower-led mandates include advising Silver Lake Partners on the financing of its $3.5bn buyout of Blackhawk Network Holdings, which it acquired jointly with P2 Capital Partners. The firm also advised Community Health Systems on its complex multi-billion dollar restructuring. For the lenders, the team advised JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs on the financing for IBM's $34bn acquisition of Red Hat. Further, the team acted for JPMorgan Chase in an $8.5bn bridge facility to finance Northrop Grumman's acquisition of Orbital ATK. Patrick Ryan leads the first-class practice, which includes some of the leading lawyers in the market, including James Cross, Brian GluckJennifer HobbsWilliam SheehanAlexandra Kaplan, and Houston's Matt Einbinder.

Proskauer Rose LLP

Proskauer Rose LLP has established itself as one of the leading players for mid-market and second lien financings, particularly in the private credit sphere - an area where it has led the charge for over a decade. With 20 partners spread throughout its US network, the finance group has established excellent relationships with numerous funds including Ares Capital, which it advised as lead arranger on over $7bn worth of transactions, including a $545m loan to TDG Group Holding Company to finance the purchase of The Dwyer Group by Harvest Partners. The team also advised Ares on the $881m financing for its acquisition of Convergint Technologies. Other key clients include The Carlyle Group, Midcap Financial, and New Mountain Capital. Key figures in the practice group include global finance co-heads Ron Franklin and Andrew Bettwy, leveraged finance head Justin Breen, and Boston-based private credit group co-heads Stephen Boyko and Steven Ellis.

Shearman & Sterling LLP

Shearman & Sterling LLP has been a major player in the commercial lending scene for many years and clients report 'great experiences' with the group's lawyers. The firm has developed strong relationships with major financial institutions and direct lenders, and also has links with borrowers in the corporate and private equity spheres. On the lender side, the team advised Bank of America as administrative agent on the cross-border financing to support Comcast Corporation's £22bn offer for Sky. On the borrower front, the firm advised Vector Capital and its portfolio company, Saba Software, on a $497m financing, part of which went towards the acquisition of a European software company. Maura O’Sullivan and Ronan Wicks jointly lead the seven partner team, which includes the firm's highly experienced head of global leveraged finance Joshua Thompson, and Gus Atiyah, who is noted for his borrower-side expertise.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP offers borrower and lender clients a versatile and well-balanced service with a strong grounding in complex financings and refinancings. Its borrower-side group is one of the most active in the market, regularly handling business-critical deals on behalf of corporates and private equity sponsors. The team recently advised Brookfield Property Partners on the $6.4bn facility to help acquire the REIT, General Growth Properties. Additionally, the group advised Brookfield Asset Management on a $4.3bn bridge loan to partly finance its $11.4bn acquisition of Forest City Realty Trust. Other active sponsor clients include Advent International and Centerbridge Partners. The team also has an active lender-side practice, which recently advised Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs on a $49bn facility to finance CVS Health Corporation's $77bn acquisition of Aetna. The team is led by global finance head Daniel Dokos, who is very strong on the lender side, and Douglas Urquhart, who is a name to note for borrower-side mandates. Other key partners include Morgan BaleHeather Viets and the recently promoted Justin Lee, who are most active on the lender's side, and Andrew ColaoDamian Ridealgh and Allison Liff on the borrower's side.

White & Case LLP

According to clients, White & Case LLP provides 'an unrivaled level of service' and its lawyers are praised for their 'good rapport with their counterparts on the other side of the transaction'. The US team is led by Jake Mincemoyer, who is 'on top of market trends and is able to explain complicated concepts in a straight-forward manner'. Recently, the team advised Deutsche Bank, Mizuho and Credit Agricole as lead arrangers on a $1.6bn loan to Foundation Holdings, a subsidiary of Softbank, to finance the $3.3bn acquisition of Fortress Investment Group. The firm also advised Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and other lenders on a $6.4bn facility to fund Brookfield Property Partners' $15bn acquisition of listed real estate company GGP. The firm also has an active borrower-side practice, which was boosted by the return of Justin Wagstaff from the firm's London office; Wagstaff is noted for his 'exceptional technical knowledge, astute sense of commerciality and the tenacity of a pit bull'. Borrower-side highlights include advising Roark Capital Management on the financing of its $2.9bn acquisition of Buffalo Wild Wings through its portfolio company, Arby's Restaurant Group. Other highly experienced partners include global banking head Eric LeichtEliza McDougallDavid Bilkis ('a reliable and seasoned powerhouse'), and Brenda Dieck in Los Angeles.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is praised for its 'strong team of fund financing and LBO financing professionals'. Led by the highly regarded J Christian Nahr, the practice group provides clients with a strong mix of talent and experience, from seasoned experts such as F William Reindel ('one of the most experienced lenders' counsel in NYC'), Daniel Bursky, and Brian Murphy, to highly active up-and-comers including Adam Summers. Lender-side highlights included advising Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, and Goldman Sachs on the €1.9bn refinancing of SIG Combibloc Group, which was listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange by Onex Corporation in 2018. On the sponsor side, the team advised Onex Corporation on the $1.3bn financing for its acquisition of PowerSchool Group and PeopleAdmin; it also acted for Jacobs Engineering Group in a $2.3bn financing deal, which was linked to its acquisition of CH2M Hill Companies.

Jones Day

The team at Jones Day is extremely popular among borrowers and lenders alike. Led out of New York by Brett Barragate, the team acts for a mix of banks, direct lenders, corporate clients and private equity funds. On top of its impressive network of US offices, the group also works closely with its broader global finance team. This cross-border expertise was brought to the fore in advising AGIC Capital, an Asian-European private equity investor, on the financing for its multimillion-dollar acquisition of Fotona, a US and Slovenia-based developer of laser systems and components. Notable lender-led mandates include advising Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith on the provision of a $1bn facility to KBS Real Estate Investment Trust III to refinance existing debt. The firm also advised Norway's DNB Bank on a $1.4bn loan provided to The Cooper Companies, a global medical device company, to finance its acquisition of Paragard Intrauterine Device from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Key partners include Lewis Grimm and Chip Bensinger, as well as Rachel Rawson and Kevin Samuels in Cleveland, all of whom have experience of borrower and lender work.

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

'A great firm that holds itself to the highest professional standards', Katten has established itself as one of the leading players in the mid-market direct lending space. The group, which 'always provide timely and expert advice' and 'will work around the clock to make sure work gets done', is instructed by an extensive list of major funds, including Antares Capital, Golub Capital, and Ares Capital. Recent mandates include advising Deerfield Management Company on a $147m loan to Melinta Therapeutics to finance its acquisition of the infectious disease business of The Medicines Company. The firm has also advised clients on joint ventures with other debt funds, which recently included acting for Antares Capital in relation to a new joint venture with Bain Capital as well as a co-investment program with Harvard Management Private Equity. Michael Jacobson ('an incredible attorney with the highest knowledge of all matters pertaining to credit') leads the 'top-notch' team out of Chicago. Other contacts include Stuart Shulruff and Derek Ladgenski in Chicago, and Kristopher Ring and Glen Lim in Los Angeles.

Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown has a well-regarded and versatile practice that is equally adept at lender- and borrower-side mandates. The firm has expanded significantly in the past year, following the arrival of global co-head Scott Zemser from Allen & Overy LLP in New York. In addition, the team has bolstered its direct lending practice with the recruitment of the new head of global private credit, Matt O’Meara, and a team of lawyers from Jones Day in Chicago. Highlights on the borrower side include advising Tenneco on the financing for its $4.9bn acquisition of Federal-Mogul. On the lender side, the team advised BMO Harris on a $950m senior secured syndicated loan to Ryan Specialty Group. Other key clients include Citibank, Credit Suisse and The Bank of Nova Scotia. Also recommended are Kristin Rylko and joint practice heads David Duffee and Fred Fisher.

McGuireWoods LLP

McGuireWoods LLP has an extremely active national practice, which specializes in advising lenders on mid-market financing transactions. In 2018 the firm advised on 191 deals with an aggregate value of $159.9bn, putting it among the ten most active practice groups in the country. Led out of Charlotte by Raj Natarajan, the practice group has strong teams throughout the country, including offices in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. The team is especially noted for its strong healthcare-focused finance team and also benefits from relationships with major financial institutions such as Bank of America. Moreover, the team was recently strengthened by the recruitment of Chris Molen in Atlanta from King & Spalding LLP.

Paul Hastings LLP

Paul Hastings LLP has a dynamic team with experienced lawyers spread across several offices, including New York (where the bulk of the team is based), Los Angeles and Chicago. The team has particular expertise in acting for for major banks in lender-side mandates including refinancings and leveraged buyouts, many of which are sponsor designated. The firm also has a growing practice advising direct lenders, where Los Angeles-based global finance and restructuring chair Jennifer Yount and Bill Brady are names to note. Recent highlights include advising RBC Capital Markets, Credit Suisse Securities, Barclays Bank and Citigroup Global Markets on the $3.6bn financing for Meredith Corporation's acquisition of media company Time. The practice group has experience acting for corporate and private equity borrowers, which recently included advising Delphi Technologies on a $1.4bn financing linked to its spin-off from Delphi Automotive. The highly rated global leveraged finance practice is jointly led by Michael Baker  and John Cobb.

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy LLP has invested heavily in its New York commercial lending practice, and the market consensus is that this is starting to pay dividends, particularly in designated lender mandates in relation to major acquisition financings, often with a cross-border angle. Standout highlights included advising the lead arrangers, including Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, on the $3.7bn debt financing package for Brookfield Business Partners' acquisition of Westinghouse Electric company. The firm also acted for the lenders and initial purchasers in the dual capital markets and bank financing for Leonard Green & Partners' acquisition of SRS Distribution, which included a $1.6bn credit facility and a $350m bond offering. Michael Chernick leads the eight-partner team, which includes the highly experienced Alan Rockwell, William Schwitter and Rajani Gupta.

Bracewell LLP

Bracewell LLP has a good reputation for advising borrowers and lenders, particularly in complex upstream, midstream, and downstream energy related financings and refinancings. The practice is primarily based in Houston, but also has a growing team in New York following the recruitment of Nicolai Sarad and Fernando Rodriguez Marin from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP. Lender highlights include advising Crédit Agricole on the $4.9bn financing of McDermott International's all-stock combination with Chicago Bridge & Iron Company. On the borrower side, the team advised Enterprise Products Operating on two separate facilities totaling $6bn. Houston-based Dewey Gonsoulin leads the respected team, which includes the highly experienced Robin Miles in New York. Heather BrownStephanie Koo Song, and Jeris Brunette are other names to note.

Dechert LLP

Dechert LLP has a strong bench of 'very diligent and detail-oriented professionals, who are responsive and constructive' to borrowers and lenders on all layers of the capital structure. In relation to its experience in corporate acquisition financings, the firm's 'market knowledge is unsurpassed in middle market lending', which clients feel is 'invaluable in negotiating covenants'. The team also has good experience in fund finance, and regularly counsels direct lenders on their investments. Recently it advised consumer packaging company Crown Holdings on the financing for its $3.9bn acquisition of Signode Industrial Group Holdings from the Carlyle Group. Other highlights included representing Differential Brands Group, on the financing for its $1.4bn purchase agreement with Hong Kong's Global Brands Group Holding, to acquire a significant part of its North American licensing business. Practice head Scott M Zimmerman is 'a star', who 'combines true market knowledge with practicality and sound advice'. Other key figures include highly rated fund finance expert Jay R Alicandri, the 'outstandingJeffrey M Katz, and Sarah B Gelb, who is based in the firm's Philadelphia office.

DLA Piper LLP (US)

DLA Piper LLP (US) has a broad-based US finance practice that is 'extremely fast and responsive' and is considered 'an incredible asset' by its clients. On the West Coast, the practice led by San Diego's 'extremely intelligent and diversely experiencedMatt Schwartz, who is 'very knowledgeable about the venture debt market' and regularly advises on loans to funds and companies in the tech and biotech spheres. Recent examples include advising JPMorgan Chase on a $50m facility to the telematics company CalAmp. Other key clients include Silicon Valley Bank, which the team advised on a co-lending arrangement with Oxford Finance in relation to the provision of a $155m loan facility to Puma Biotechnology. Jamie Knox leads the East Coast team, which is primarily instructed by borrowers.

King & Spalding LLP

King & Spalding LLP has a highly versatile practice group that acts for a mix of borrowers and lenders, and is praised for its 'very deep bench that can solve any problems that come up'. The US team has a strong spread of lawyers in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, and Charlotte, and regularly works in conjunction with the firm's wider global network. In addition, the team's clients note that its lawyers are 'extremely current on the latest market trends and can negotiate against the most seasoned groups across the table'. On the borrower side, the group advised Pinnacle Arcadia Cattle Holdco, a Pinacle Asset Management portfolio company, on the financing of its $200m acquisition of JBS Five River Cattle Feeding from Moyer Distribution. The firm also has strength in the energy sector, where it advised ConocoPhillips on a $6.5bn revolving credit facility. Key lender clients include Citizens Bank, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Carolyn Alford  leads the team from Atlanta. Other key partners include Todd Holleman, Cecilia Hong and Ellen Snare in New York, and Amy Peters in Chicago.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Kirkland & Ellis LLP has established itself as one of the 'best-in-class' borrower-led practices in the country, with 'extremely in-depth knowledge of market precedents and conditions'. The team is regularly number-one in the league tables for deal value and volume, both for leveraged buyouts and corporate M&A. The firm's lawyers also regularly act on stand-alone financings, DIP financings and complex restructurings. Notable highlights include advising Ares Management on the financing of its $750m acquisition of Texas-based oil and gas company Admiral Permian Resources, and advising Bain Capital on the $1.4bn financing for the combination of Superion, TriTech and Aptean to form CentralSquare. Also of note, the group advised Charter Communications on a $12.4bn refinancing deal. Linda Myers heads the debt finance team out of Chicago, which fields 60 partners nationally. Other key individuals include Chicago's Michelle Kilkenney and Christopher Butler, San Francisco-based Christopher Kirkham, and Jay Ptashek in New York. The firm is also increasingly active in the direct lending space, where David Nemecek in Los Angeles and Boston-based Ranesh Ramanathan (former general counsel at Bain Capital Credit) are names to note.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP 'takes a very commercial approach to transactions, which enables its clients to stay competitive and relevant in a very challenging market'. In particular, the group is praised for its 'deep knowledge of the law', and is especially active on the lender side, where it acts for a number of institutional clients in asset-based transactions and also advises a range of direct lenders on leveraged finance deals. In addition, the team is noted for its expertise in the film finance market, and recently advised JPMorgan Chase on a $2.1bn facility to MGM, which will be used partly to finance film and television development and production. Additionally, the team advised GSO Capital Partners as creditor on the Chapter 11 proceedings of Video Equipment Rentals, which involved a $465m pre-petition term debt and DIP financing, followed by the subsequent merger with Production Resources Group. Other key clients include Bank of America, Ares Capital, and Crystal Financial. Jonathan Bernstein leads the team out of Boston, and is backed up by a strong group including Matthew Furlong, Amy Kyle and Hartford-based Daniel Papermaster. Other key individuals include leveraged finance expert Frederick Eisenbiegler and Thomas Mellor in New York.

Ropes & Gray LLP

Led primarily out of the firm's Boston and New York offices, Ropes & Gray LLP has built a superb reputation for sponsor-led debt finance, which stems from strong relationships with major private equity houses, including Bain Capital, The Blackstone Group and Silver Lake Partners. Standout highlights include advising Golden Gate Capital on the multibillion-dollar financing for its acquisition of Mavis Tire Holdings, which was subsequently merged with an existing portfolio company, Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers. The practice is led by Byung Choi in Boston, and also includes Michael Lee and Patricia Lynch, and New York's Stefanie Birkmann and Jay Kim. The team also handles lender-side instructions, where Boston's Alyson Gal  and New York's Joanne De Silva acted for several key debt funds, including KKR Credit Advisors in relation to a multimillion-dollar loan to Red Midco.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has an extremely impressive borrower practice, which is regularly instructed by blue chip corporates in a range of financing issues, from acquisition finance to restructurings. Perhaps less well-known, but also notable, is the group's lender-side practice, which is instructed by prominent financial institutions such as Credit Suisse, which the team recently advised on several financing deals, including a $1bn facility to finance Genstar Capital's $1.5bn acquisition of Tekni-plex. The firm also advised Citibank and Citigroup Global Markets on a $850m cross-border senior secured revolving credit facility for Ardagh Group. On the borrower side, the team advised Keurig Green Mountain, a company controlled by JAB Holding Company, on the $2.4bn financing for its acquisition of Dr Pepper Snapple Group. In addition, the team acted for Cineworld in relation to the financing of its $5.9bn acquisition of Regal Entertainment Group. Key figures in the practice group include Chicago-based global co-head Seth JacobsonSteven Messina, and Stephanie Teicher in New York.

Vinson & Elkins LLP

Vinson & Elkins LLP has an even mix of borrower and lender work, and is particularly experienced in energy-related financing, including upstream, downstream and midstream oil and gas, as well as renewables. Jointly led by Erec Winandy in Dallas and Brian Moss in Houston, the team is primarily based across its Texas offices, but also fields a strong team in New York, which includes acquisition finance expert David Wicklund. The firm is particularly noted for its relationships with major banks and direct lenders, including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citibank, to name a few. On the borrower side, the team advised Talos Energy on the financing of its $2.5bn merger with Stone Energy Corporation, and also acted for SandRidge Energy in the financing of its $746m merger with Bonanza Creek Energy. Other key partners include Brett Santoli in New York, Trevor Wommack in Houston, and Chris Dewar in Dallas.

Winston & Strawn LLP

Winston & Strawn LLP's 'integrated and collaborative' team has some 'outstanding, dedicated and smart' lawyers handling borrower and lender work. The group is particularly noted for its expertise in advising banks and direct lenders, and is highly experienced in leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations and corporate acquisitions. The team recently advised Barings on a $112m loan to help finance the takeover of Excentus by PDI TA Holdings, a holding company controlled by Genstar Capital Management. Other key clients include Citibank, Antares Capital, Citizens Bank, Wells Fargo, and Twin Brook Capital Partners. Key figures in Chicago include Ronald Jacobson and Patrick Hardiman, while William Brewer and Mats Carlston practice in the firm's New York office.