Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2011: Banking & Finance

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' 2011 review of national legal talent in the area of "Banking & Finance," our Firm and our lawyers are listed among the best in the country.

Chambers' comments:

Illinois Ranking: Tier 2

The Firm: Chicago stalwart Kirkland & Ellis has over 40 lawyers dedicated to banking matters. The group is most celebrated for its representation of borrowers, especially in the private equity realm, working closely with the firm's world-class private equity desk. The team has recently been involved in a large number of national and international financings. In one example, it advised Bank of America as it sold a $1.9 billion private equity fund portfolio to AXA.

Sources Say: "An outstanding group and one of the most frequently seen borrower-side firms in town."

Key Individuals: The "extremely talented" Linda Myers is a debt specialist and head of the debt finance practice group. She helped Bemis in obtaining the $1.2 billion required to acquire Alcan Packaging. Michelle Kilkenney is an emerging partner and another debt specialist. She advised United Airlines on launching $700 million of secured bonds in two tranches. Christopher Butler is particularly active advising private equity houses. He recently assisted with credit facilities for Code Hennessy & Simmons and Vestar Capital Partners. Maureen Sweeney is well known for her work with large public companies and is described as "a joy to work with." Michael Wright represents private equity groups and corporate borrowers in a range of finance operations. He advised Madison Dearborn Partners on putting $915 million worth of finance in place to acquire BWAY Holding.

Nationwide Ranking: Tier 3

The Firm: Highly active in representing private equity sponsors and corporate issuers in the borrower segment, Kirkland has strong finance and bankruptcy practices in Chicago and an ever-growing presence in New York. The strength of Kirkland's restructuring practice has enabled it to advise on some impressive LBOs, with continued aggression in lateral hiring set to strengthen its market presence. Key clients include Charter Communications, Warburg Pincus and Madison Dearborn Partners. Kirkland represented CVC Capital Partners and its portfolio company, Univar, on its sale of a minority interest to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. The transaction involved an amended and restated $1 billion term loan credit agreement, $1.1 billion asset-based lending credit agreement and $600 million senior subordinated notes indenture.

Sources Say: "A huge force in finance that represents the country's key sponsor clients; it is tough, aggressive and making a huge impact on the market."

Key Individuals: Jay Ptashek focuses his practice on acquisition finance and debt restructuring. He represents sponsors on syndicated senior debt and bridge loan financings. He recently represented 3G Capital in taking Burger King private for $4 billion with a debt financing portion worth $2.8 billion. Joshua Korff represents clients in finance and capital markets transactions with particular emphasis on IPOs, high-yield transactions and private equity issues. He represented Bain Capital in the $1.63 billion, multijurisdictional purchase of Dow Chemical's Styron division.

California: Other Notable Practitioners:

Christopher Kirkham joined Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati from O'Melveny & Myers in early 2010, and then moved to Kirkland & Ellis in April 2011. He is known as "a talented, efficient and knowledgeable finance lawyer who is a key player in the leveraged finance market." Samantha Good of Kirkland & Ellis LLP is known for her lending experience in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Clients report: "She is very tenacious and can achieve overwhelmingly successful outcomes." She counts Oaktree Capital Management and Golden Gate Capital as key clients.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2011—