Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2009: Corporate/M&A & Private Equity

Chambers & Partners has compiled its 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' 2009 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: Tier 1

Well respected nationwide for its private equity work, this firm's California offices work on behalf of local clients, as well as national clients with interests on the West Coast. With a strong fund base, this group has historically been active in the LBO market. A top choice in the Southern California private equity market, John Weissenbach is the firm's prominent name on the West Coast. His practice covers a broad base of activity, including transactional and advisory work for big-name private equity investors.

Illinois Ranking: Tier 1

Kirkland is considered by many to be unrivaled in the area of private equity-related transactions. "Available 24/7, the firm has some of the most experienced professionals in the field," say sources. Private equity fund involvement in distressed situations comprises the bread-and-butter work of Kirkland's multibillion-dollar-deal practice. Jack Levin "is a legend," admiring market commentators report. M&A, buyouts, venture capital investing, fund formation and debt and equity restructurings are only part of his expertise, and the impact he has had on the practice ensures he is one of the most high-profile names around. "Intuitive commercial instinct" characterizes Jeffrey Hammes, who is one of the most influential and active members of the team. He leads the way with notable work on behalf of high-profile names such as Bain Capital, and devotes a proportion of his time to California-based operations. Stephen Ritchie is well respected for his regular work on complex business transactions and recently advised GTCR Golder Rauner on a $492 million LBO. According to peers, "he is one of those great lawyers who is easy to work with." Matthew Steinmetz enters the table for his talent in complex private equity transactions. Equity restructurings, executive equity incentive arrangements and fund formation lie at the heart of his practice, along with his work for Bain Capital, which has included representing the client on several multimillion-dollar acquisitions. Clients praise his "sound business judgment and excellent legal knowledge." Douglas Gessner is another emerging talent in the Chicago office. He works closely with Sun Capital Partners and spends the rest of his time advising private equity and venture capital sponsors on a range of investment matters. Commentators also highlight Jon Ballis, for his work on Bain Capital's acquisition of Guitar Center, and Sandy Perl, who approaches deals from a securities and tax perspective and is one of the key partners responsible for the firm's relationship with Madison Dearborn Partners. While private equity transactions consume the majority of its time, the group is also active on more traditional corporate and M&A deals, and market observers commend corporate generalist Scott Falk in particular for the significant work he does with public companies. Clients also single out Falk as a fantastic practitioner who is "superb at getting the right deal for us." His highlight work includes advising Molson Coors on its $6.6 billion joint venture MillerCoors. Of counsel Carter Emerson's practice concentrates on complex international and domestic mergers and LBOs. He takes a considered and methodical approach to his work and "is always mindful of the issues and willing to compromise where necessary," according to interviewees. With a similar practice to Emerson that also includes fund formation work, Kevin Evanich plays a vital role in the firm's relationship with and work on behalf of GTCR Golder Rauner. 

Private Equity Buyouts
Nationwide Ranking: Tier 2

"One of the main players in the midmarket," Kirkland & Ellis' focus on this level of the market has met with tremendous success. While the top-end transactions have slowed significantly, the midmarket continued to provide the team with a steady source of work. With about 200 lawyers in Chicago, it has accumulated significant expertise and an enviable market share. It also has international experience, acting on numerous buyout funds around the world. Kirk Radke has focused exclusively on private equity clients for more than 20 years and has extensive experience in transactions and fund formation. Kevin Evanich, one of the senior members of the corporate group, is an expert on the structuring, supervising and closing of LBOs. Working out of Illinois and California, Jeffrey Hammes handles a range of buyout transactions, including multibillion-dollar deals. In the Chicago office, Douglas Gessner represents private equity and venture capital sponsors in LBOs, recapitalizations and fund formation. "Few teams are better suited, in terms of depth of resources, to working through the tangled webs of transactions," clients comment.

District of Columbia Ranking: Tier 2

Kirkland & Ellis is one of the giants of US private equity. Representative work highlights include acting for Arlington Capital Partners in the acquisition of Consolidated Precision Products, and representing Constellation Energy in its sale to MidAmerican Energy Holdings, valued at $4.7 billion. The national corporate practice has a sizeable Washington, DC offering that is closely linked with the New York office, and these pooled resources enable it to deliver an in-depth service on some of the most significant private equity and strategic deals being handled in the region. George Stamas is revered for his prowess and enthusiasm at the deal table: "You can tell he loves it — he's an extraordinary negotiator who meets problems head on in a pragmatic manner." Bright and practical, Mark Director is lauded for his wealth of in-house experience and important client relationships, notably with Constellation Energy and Arlington Capital Partners.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2009 —