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United States > Investment fund formation and management > Alternative/hedge funds > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


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Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP is ‘a go-to firm’ that ‘knows clients’ structures well enough to provide continuing advice on the fly’, and handles a range of fund formation matters for a heavyweight roster of asset managers, including Tudor Pickering Holt and Trian Fund Management. Stephanie Breslow heads the ‘very client-focused and responsible’ practice, which includes David Nissenbaum and special counsel Jason Behrens, who have extensive track records handling significant fund launches, and regulatory experts Brian Daly and Paul Roth. In a highlight matter, Jason Kaplan led a team advising Cerberus Capital Management on the formation of several funds investing in distressed assets, including European non-performing loans. In addition to its fund formation workload, the firm has been highly active in M&A and spin-offs for asset managers; Jennifer Dunn led a team advising Marathon Asset Management on its minority sale to Blackstone Strategic Capital Holdings Fund. Other clients include Credit Suisse and Elliot Management Corporation. Daniel Hunter and Marc Elovitz are also recommended. All named lawyers are based in New York. Steven Fredman has retired.

At the very top of the investment funds space’, Sidley Austin LLP attracts praise for its ‘excellent management of large and intricate fund complexes and bank relationships’. In Chicago, William Kerr and Patrick Mellon have handled a number of fund launches for Man Group, while the ‘extremely intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced’ Bradley Howard (who is noted for his ‘unique ability to understand his clients’ businesses and come up with creative solutions’) advised Anchorage Capital Group on the launch of a $1.2bn distressed debt fund. In the new manager space, David Sawyier (also in Chicago) advised Garda Capital Partners on its spin-off from Black River Asset Management. Mandates led out of the New York office included Michael Schmidtberger and Benson Cohen’s advice to Credit Suisse Securities on the expansion of its HedgeFocus feeder fund platform. Other work relates to hybrid funds at the intersection of private equity and hedge funds. The firm also acts for Morningstar Investment Management Asia and Marathon Asset Management. Kerr and Schmidtberger lead the team along with Laurin Kleiman, who contributes further regulatory firepower to the New York office.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP’s ‘client service and business acumen separates it from the pack’. The firm, which attracts praise for its ability to provide ‘unmatched breadth of knowledge, experience and business acumen’, advises on funds-related issues covering a range of strategies, from quantitative-based funds and merger arbitrage to distressed debt, for clients such as Goldman Sachs Hedge Fund Strategies and BlackRock. Key figures include Jonathan Adler, who is ‘a living, breathing treatise’ on the subject and regularly acts for the TCW Group; Walid Khuri, whose expertise covers the structuring of funds-of-funds; Lisa Schneider, who advised Piton Investment Management on its entry into the hedge fund business; and practice head Lawrence Barshay, who is ‘in a league of his own - he consistently delivers practical solutions to the most complex questions’.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP has a track record of advising on high-end, technically complex matters, making it a go-to firm for managers such as Apollo Global Management, Blackstone Alternative Asset Management and Paulson & Co, as well as institutional investors. Udi Grofman possesses ‘a very rare commercial sensibility, obviating the need for so much of the wasteful dialectic’. Marco Masotti’s clients include Reservoir Capital, which it recently advised on its seed investment in Silver Ridge Macro Fund. Both individuals are based in New York.

Ropes & Gray LLP handles the full range of hedge fund matters, including structuring, management and regulatory issues, and is noted for its investor-side practice. Laurel Fitzpatrick advised Bernard Partners - a new management company created by several former partners at D.B. Zwirn & Co - on its entry to the market, which, in an industry first, involved a public Canadian offering. Fitzpatrick also advises Pimco on the launch of both traditional hedge funds and funds with private equity-style features. She jointly heads the practice with Boston-based Leigh Fraser, who advises hedge fund managers on a panoply of regulatory matters. Jessica O’Mary is advising a number of well-known names, including Bain Capital Credit, on debt funds, while Sarah Davidoff is advising Margate Capital Management on compliance issues, and is also advising the same client on the creation of a long-short equity fund. Chicago-based Deborah Monson, who is noted for her expertise in commodities and derivatives, advised Willowbridge Associates on the launch of its first fund using high-volume algorithmic securities trading. The firm’s other clients include Blackstone Alternative Asset Management and Allianz Global Investors. Named attorneys are based in New York unless specified.

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Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP handles a range of investment fund matters, including regulatory work. Stephen Vine’s workload includes advising on SEC regulation and fund restructurings, as well as on matters at the intersection of hedge funds and private equity. Other key figures include Kelli Moll, also based in New York, and Eliot Raffkind and Fadi Samman in Washington DC. Oak Hill Advisors, GE Capital and Caspian Capital Advisors are also clients.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP attracts strong praise for its handling of regulatory matters, including SEC investigations, and the firm also handles significant fund formation and operational mandates. Nora Jordan and Leor Landa advise hedge fund clients, including Bridgewater Associates, Highbridge Capital, Czech Asset Management and Oaktree Capital Management, on a range of trading, operational and restructuring matters. Meyer Dworkin provides advice to Silver Point capital on its negotiations with broker counterparties, while John Crowley assists investors with their placement of limited partner (LP) interests. The team, which is based in New York, also advises Credit Suisse.

Well known for its advice to asset managers, Dechert LLP’s ‘tremendous group’ attracts praise for its ‘broad bench strength’. The firm advises a range of clients, including major sponsors and the asset management arms of major banks, on the full range of matters, and also advises ERISA-regulated LPs on their investments. Matthew Kerfoot (who is ‘a dynamic talent - he takes an issue and comes up with an innovative set of solutions’) is advising a leading international alternative asset manager on its entry to the American market. David Vaughan, who is noted for his knowledge of algorithmic trading issues, and George Mazin, whose work includes high-level regulatory matters, lead the team. New additions to the practice include Timothy Spangler, who joined the firm’s Orange County office from Sidley Austin LLP and is advising a manager on the launch of a new activist fund, and Russel Perkins, who joined from Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP. Unless otherwise stated, named attorneys are located in New York.

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP’s ‘strong, collaborative team’ represents a range of players in the hedge funds space, including managers, banks and broker-dealers. Henry Bregstein advises broker-dealer Mercury Capital Advisors on a platform to allow retail access to funds through a new tax-efficient structure. Fred Santo and Wendy Cohen advised Scoggin Management on its transition to a partnership from a limited liability company, as well as providing ongoing advice to the same client on a range of SEC filings, European Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIMFD) compliance and private placement issues. Investor-side mandates include Ricardo Hollingsworth advising Lockheed Martin Investment Management on separately managed accounts with several managers. Allison Yacker provides ‘very responsive and clear’ advice on regulatory issues. Lance Zinman, who is based in Chicago and shares leadership of the practice with Bregstein, provides ‘excellent analysis’ of structuring issues. Unless otherwise stated, named attorneys are located in New York.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP has ‘impressive depth of knowledge and experience in different areas of the business’. In Miami, Ethan Johnson (‘responsive and knowledgeable about the needs of international clients’) advised TCG Advisory Services on the launch of an India-focused long-short equity fund. In an illustration of the firm’s investor-side credentials, newly elected partner Christopher Dlutowski in New York advised the South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission on a $400m investment in a captive fund managed by Apollo. Stephen Giordano, who is based in Boston and is ‘particularly knowledgeable in regards to fund structuring’, advised MPM Capital on a $400m crossover hedge/venture capital impact fund focused on cancer research. Richard Goldman in Boston and Jedd Wider lead the practice - both advise managers on high-value fund formations. Other clients include AQR Capital Management, Goldman Sachs, Fortress Investment Group and heavyweight institutional investors.

Seward & Kissel LLP is ‘responsive, practical, creative and unafraid to be aggressive’, with Steven Nadel and Christopher Riccardi singled out as being ‘industry experts in fund formation, regulation, seed deals and market trends’. On the fund formation front, the practice advised LibreMax on the creation of a credit opportunity fund utilizing a Cayman Islands master-feeder structure to invest in various financial products. In addition to being ‘keenly aware of the business angle’ of a range of fund formation and structuring work, it also handles sponsor-related M&A; Nadel and Craig Sklar advised Harvest Volatility Management, which has over $6bn of assets under management, on its sale of a minority stake to Lincoln Peak Capital. Jon Brose is ‘well known for his hedge fund tax expertise’. Other clients include Brigade Capital Management, Lansdowne Partners and Cedar Rock Capital. All named lawyers are located in New York.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP advises funds on a range of matters, often involving complex and cross-border regulatory matters. Dorothy Mehta and Mark Howe advised Morgan Stanley on the sale of its funds-of-funds business, while Richard Brand and Kenneth Wainstein advised activist fund Pershing Square Capital Management on issues arising from its acquisition of a stake in Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Steven Lofchie and Ray Shirazi have extensive fund manager expertise, as well as a track record of advice on prime brokerage issues. Other clients include family offices and other investors. Other than Howe, who is based in Washington DC, the named lawyers are located in New York.

Goodwin handles fund formation and compliance work for a range of alternative and hedge fund managers, including a number engaged in impact investing. Brynn Peltz, who is based in New York, and Thomas LaFond in Boston advised C-III Capital Partners on the integration of a newly acquired manager and the sale of another. Peltz also serves as fund and compliance counsel to Alger Dynamic Return Fund. Also recommended are Boston-based partners Luciana Aquino-Hagedorn, who advises managers on their fund launches, and William Stern. Elizabeth Shea Fries is now at Sidley Austin LLP.

Lowenstein Sandler LLP’s clients benefit from ‘an exceedingly high level of client service’. Key figures in New York include Robert Minion, who ‘brings a lot of enthusiasm and energy to his work, which makes investment professionals take notice’ and advises leading managers on formation and structuring issues; and the ‘commercial, thoughtful, hardworking and professionalPeter Greene, who is advising a number of managers on their debut fund launches. Also recommended are Elaine Hughes in the Roseland office, and Marie DeFalco, Scott Moss and broker-dealer specialist Ethan Silver in New York.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s ‘excellent’ practice handles a range of work for managers, family offices and global institutional investors. Christopher Wells and Sean Hill advised Ares Management on the launch of two new credit funds, while Robert Leonard, who attracts praise for his ‘understanding of the issues and succinct, appropriate and prompt responses’, advised Black-and-White Capital on the launch of its hedge fund business, as well as on a seed investment by Swedish asset manager Brummer & Partners. Michael Mavrides is noted for his regulatory expertise, which he brings to bear for major funds and family offices. In an illustration of its fund-related M&A expertise, Wells advised Graham Capital Management on the sale of a 20% stake in the manager to funds managed by Dyal Capital Partners. Other clients include Alta Fundamental Advisers, which Wells assisted with the launch of a co-investment vehicle, and CapeView Capital, a London-based manager for which the firm handled a fund launch. With the exception of Hill, who is based in Boston, named lawyers are located in New York.

Based in San Francisco, Shartsis Friese LLP has a strong reputation of advising fund managers on a range of structures, from more traditional hedge funds through to hybrid hedge-private equity funds and algorithmic trading funds. Neil Koren handles fund formation work across the sector, as does Carolyn Reiser. Jahan Raissi heads the firm’s securities and enforcement division, which handles a range of contentious work including SEC enforcement, as well as activist investor disputes. John Broadhurst contributes regulatory expertise and is also recommended.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s Sean Finley advised TRG Management on the creation of a master-feeder fund focusing on Argentina. Finley also advises CCTrack Solutions - an affiliate of CITIC Capital Holdings - on various matters. In the manager M&A space, Nathan Greene and Finlay advised General Electric on its sale of General Electric Asset Management to State Street. Other mandates relate to Dodd-Frank, commodities regulation and cross-border regulatory matters. Azam Aziz also advises significant managers. The team is located in New York.

Bracewell LLP provides ‘excellent service’ and ‘thoughtful, timely and very thorough advice’. Based in New York, the ‘extremely personableCheri Hoff (in whom ‘clients have a high degree of confidence’) advised Christofferson Robb and Company’s CRC Bond Opportunity Trading Fund on formation, regulatory and compliance matters. The ‘knowledgeable, professional and efficient’ team also includes David Perlman in Washington DC; he advises managers such as Fundamental Advisors on CFTC regulations. The firm also handles cybersecurity issues for its fund clients. Other clients include Columbus Hill Capital Management and Total Compensation Group.

Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP has an extensive track record handling the structuring and organization of funds-of-funds, master-feeder funds and multi-class hedge funds, with a particular focus on start-up funds and mid-market focused managers such as Offit Capital, Ativo Capital Management, SG Capital Management and Graham Partners. In addition to fund formation and structuring, the firm also advises on seed investments. Key figures include Chicago-based David Matteson, who regularly advises managers on complex structuring and regulatory matters, and Philadelphia-based team head Joshua Deringer. In Chicago, the team was joined by 12-year SEC veteran James Lundy, but in November 2017 New York-based Kay Gordon moved to Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.

K&L Gates advises on a wide range of fund matters and strategies for its manager client base. Boston-based funds head Michael Caccese advised PanAgora Asset Management, a quantitative fund, on securities and commodities compliance issues and advised NewStar Financial on its acquisition of Feingold O’Keefe Capital. Cary Meer in Washington DC advises PAAMCO on funds-of-hedge-funds matters, and is advising Structured Portfolio Management on the creation of several funds investing in mortgages, including a fund-of-one. Derek Steingarten in New York acts for Water Island Capital, a liquid alternatives fund, on various regulatory matters.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP’s Kevin Scanlan regularly assists managers running complex strategies with issues such as fund formation, arrangements with investors, derivative and fund regulation, feeder funds and SEC regulation. Other clients include major international banks as well as start-ups. George Silfen and Ronald Feiman advised Archstone and Corsair on securing SEC approval for their closed-end alternative funds to issue a choice of share classes.

At Paul Hastings LLP, Arthur Zwickel and associate David Hong advised LongTail Alpha, a new manager founded by a former managing director of Pimco, on the formation of two master-feeder hedge funds, and is providing ongoing regulatory advice. The pair also advised ICG Advisors on two seed investment transactions and on the structuring of a fund-of-funds. Tram Ngyuen and Yousuf Dhamee, who joined the firm from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, advise funds on day-to-day regulatory matters as well as on complex, cross-border fund formations. Other than Ngyuen in New York, named lawyers are base in Los Angeles.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP handles fund launches for asset managers as well as investor-side work, and has a notable fund-of-funds workload. Lawrence Frishman’s expertise covers cross-border fund launches, including multi-strategy funds and funds of one. Philip Harris is advising various businesses on Madoff-related issues, while Heather Cruz and Harris advised Optima Fund Management on its launch of Jenop Global Healthcare Fund, a fund-of-funds. John Caccia advises new managers on their fund structuring requirements. Other clients include Advent Capital Management and Silver Creek Capital Management. Chicago-based Kevin Hardy was recently promoted to partner and regularly advises on funds-of-funds matters. All other named partners are based in New York.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP has a particular focus on providing regulatory advice to its manager client base. Whitney Chatterjee heads the team and advised the merchant banking division of Goldman Sachs on fund formation and regulatory issues concerning its co-investments and separately managed accounts, as well as on fund restructuring and Volcker Rule compliance. Joseph Hearn, who made partner in January 2016, advises family offices on various projects and handles fund M&A matters. Other clients include Millennium Management, 40 North Management, Tudor Investment Corporation and York Capital Management. Palo Alto-based Gary Israel is now of counsel. Unless otherwise mentioned, named individuals are located in New York.

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