Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2007: Corporate/M&A & Private Equity

Chambers & Partners has compiled their independent and objective list of America's Leading Lawyers for Business based on comments gathered from thousands of interviews with clients and lawyers from Maine to Hawaii.  This guide -- which is designed to reflect market opinion -- contains a view of the firms and attorneys who are considered leaders in their field.

In Chambers' 2007 review of national legal talent in the area of "Corporate/M&A & Private Equity," our Firm and our lawyers are listed among the best in the country.

Chambers' comments:

California Ranking: 1

The Firm: The Chicago-based firm is well regarded for its private equity work and this extends to the West Coast. Its solid San Francisco and Los Angeles corporate practices have attorneys with expertise in finance, SEC issues and other related transactional areas. The firm’s private equity work includes representing Oaktree Capital Management in its $200 million acquisition of Roncadin’s ice cream division and it has regularly acted for Los Angles-based private equity player GFI Energy Ventures.

Clients/Work Highlights: The firm’s other private equity clients include Industrial Growth Partners; Brentwood Associates; Caltius Equity Partners and Shamrock Holdings.

Illinois Ranking: 1

The Firm: This firm is best known for its “unbelievable depth in the private equity world,” and a hard-hitting, assertive style that echoes its reputation in the litigation sector. The group has long been considered the market leader in private equity and fund formation, and its stellar reputation in this sector tends to overshadow its more traditional corporate work. But as one commentator pointed out: “You can’t discount Kirkland’s public company representations. They are so big in private equity, and that client base is maturing into publics.” Thus, the “extraordinarily responsive” team has evolved to provide advice on a broad spectrum of M&A, securities and corporate governance matters to an impressive public and private clientele that includes household names Sara Lee and GM. In just one example, the group advised GM on the $14 billion sale of a majority stake in GMAC, which was sold to a consortium led by Cerebus Capital Management.

The Lawyers: Maintaining an active advisory role in the Chicago office, the hugely respected Jack Levin is described as a legend in private equity and is credited with “building up a formidable group at Kirkland.” He continues to oversee many of the firm’s major M&A deals, LBOs and fund formations. Kevin Evanich has been one of the biggest names in the private equity sector for years, but “he is also an excellent public company lawyer,” commentators say. He remains one of “the go-to people for many large funds,” and recently oversaw a clutch of deals for GTCR Golder Rauner, including the $1 billion acquisition of ConvergEx, the brokerage division of Bank of New York. Also renowned for his work in private equity is Jeffrey Hammes, who has a long-standing relationship with BainCapital and many other key clients. Hammes occupies “a powerful position in the market,” his influence extending much further than the Midwest: he is credited with establishing the firm’s private equity presence in San Francisco, and is now advising on its move into Asia. Sandy Perl is “outstanding and always on the front line of the firm’s top private equity transactions.” He was instrumental in the GTCR/ConvergEx deal, and advised Madison Dearborn Partners on its sale of TeamHealth to The Blackstone Group. Corporate partner Carter Emerson is “a leading figure for public M&A and complex governance issues,” who is “knowledgeable, calm and even-handed,” according to clients. He handled the $2.5 billion sale of CenterPoint Properties Trust to CalPERS. Moving up the corporate table thanks to positive feedback is Scott Falk. A “terrific lawyer who is easy to work with,” he has advised on some of the largest public M&A deals in the market, including the $14 billion GM transaction. Now firmly established in his new team, former Sidley Austin partner and private equity expert Jon Ballis advised Looking Glass Networks Holding on its $165 million merger with Level 3 Communications. A new addition to the private equity tables this year, Douglas Gessner acts for major clients such as Sun Capital Partners, which he advised on its $425 million acquisition of Indalex Aluminum Solutions from Honeywell International. Focusing on private equity work, Stephen Ritchie is a “marvellous lawyer,” according to interviewees. Among other matters in the past year, he has handled a number of acquisitions for GTCR. Widely respected for his fund formation work, Bruce Ettelson is recognized for his expertise in private equity and venture capital fund formation. As an acknowledged expert in this field, he advises some of the firm’s biggest clients on the structuring and creation of their billion-dollar funds.

Clients/Work Highlights: The group handled M&A transactions for public companies such as UbiquiTel, which it advised on its $1.3 billion merger with Sprint Nextel. On the private side, it represented BainCapital in its acquisition of the sensors and controls business of Texas Instruments and the Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse in deals valued at $3 billion and $2.1 billion respectively. Other leading clients include Sun Capital Partners, Liberty Partners, Golden Gate Capital, American Capital Strategies and Code Hennessy & Simmons.

District of Columbia Ranking: 2

The Firm: This national firm with offices in London and Munich has 70 years of roots in Washington's legislative and regulatory networks, as reflected in a range of relevant practice groups. This well equips the local team of 20 to represent clients like Constellation Energy in its red tape-ridden, multibillion-dollar proposed merger with Florida Power & Light. Described by clients as “creative, business-oriented and with a good feel for the balance between business and legal issues,” the team is also well known both locally and nationally for its private equity practice.

The Lawyers: Described by clients as having “seen everything in his 30 years of experience,” George Stamas brings a varied background in private practice and investment banking to bear on clients’ cases. He combines heading up major transactions like the proposed Constellation Energy merger with private equity deals, and is seen as “strong competition” by local market leaders.

Clients/Work Highlights: Arlington Capital Partners; Friedman Billings Ramsey; BP; Madison Dearborn Partners; Fortress Group; FTI Consulting and Fountainhead Title Group.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2007 -