Most Highly Regarded Firms: Aviation 2013

Our research utilises the feedback from corporate counsel and private practitioners across the globe to pick out 494 individuals who are considered outstanding in the field of aviation law. The renowned aviation and maritime specialists, Clyde & Co LLP top the research with 18 lawyers, followed by Norton Rose with 14 listings, 12 experts from White & Case and 11 from Clifford Chance, two of whom appear among our most highly regarded individuals.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Kenneth Basch Basch & Rameh, São Paulo
John Pritchard Holland & Knight LLP, New York
Sean Gates Gates and Partners, London
Ravi Nath Rajinder Narain & Co, New Delhi
Berend Crans De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek NV, Amsterdam
Dean Gerber Vedder Price PC, Chicago
Donald Gray Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, Ontario
William Glaister Clifford Chance LLP, London
Simon Briscoe Clifford Chance, Singapore
Richard Gimblett Holman Fenwick Willan LLP, London

Once again Clyde & Co LLP leads the way, with a total of 18 lawyers nominated across the globe. The firm prides itself on the “deep focus and expertise” offered by its partners and has established itself as a “market leader”, particularly in Europe where 11 practitioners are nominated from the London office alone. Mark Bisset is a “recognised expert” in aviation finance, with a growing expertise in business jet financing. Also standing out in financing is Philip Perrotta, whose “extensive knowledge and experience” in aircraft transactional work make his opinion “highly valued” on the aviation finance market. Maria Cetta is also “very well-regarded”. On the liability side, Philip Bass, Timothy Brymer and Catherine West are nominated, along with David Clark who handles cross-border liability claims in a range of jurisdictions including the UK, France, South America, India and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the US. David Willcox and Ross Williams are also ranked for their liability, insurance and catastrophe work, the latter having contributed to leading publications including the third edition of “Aviation Insurance”. Joe Goodridge is the “go-to guy” for a range of aviation services. In the Paris office, Maylis Casati-Ollier is an “extremely good litigator” and a “renowned specialist in aviation law”.

The firm also enjoys a strong international presence. In the US, Andrew Harakas is “number one” and “sought after” for his 25 years’ experience of aviation litigation. Christopher Carlsen has a “vast amount of skill” in dispute resolution, while Kevin Sutherland, head of the aviation and aerospace department in Clyde & Co’s San Francisco office, represents airlines, insurers and product manufacturers across the US, China, South America and Europe. Co-founding partner of the firm’s US practice, Diane Westwood Wilson, is selected for her “broad expertise” in complex insurance litigation.

Oliver Tebbit is an “absolute star” in the UAE, with a focus on asset finance and leasing transactions for commercial airlines and business jets. Leading the aviation team in Clyde & Co’s Singapore office, Peng Lim is “well known” for her multi-jurisdictional litigation and dispute resolution work, and is recognised by clients as an “excellent negotiator”. Peter Macara moved to the firm’s Rio de Janeiro office in December 2012, and is set to continue advising clients on regulatory issues.

Norton Rose also performs well, with 14 lawyers from its “world-class” aviation practice selected for inclusion. The firm aims to provide an “all-round expert service to the industry” by combining legal excellence with commercial know-how. The London office is particularly strong; Duncan Batchelor is a “leading light”, and impresses clients with his “professional, personable and smart” approach to aircraft finance. Global head of the aviation group, Neil Poland, is an “accomplished practitioner” and works alongside the “highly recommended” Philip Vallance, advising on ECA finance, operating leases and restructuring. Owen Mulholland is noted for his aviation finance expertise, as well as Jeremy Edwards, the firm’s global head of banking. On the litigation side, Patrick Farrell, chairman of the Aviation Law Committee of the International Bar Association, advises and represents clients in high-profile disputes and is identified as a “star”.

Head of Norton Rose’s Paris office George Paterson “leads the way”, and is “without doubt one of the best” in aviation finance. Alongside him is Marc Hamilton, who impresses clients ranging from high-profile debt providers to start up airlines with “excellent” advice on finance and leasing transactions.

In Munich, Ralf Springer is “a frontrunner in aircraft financings”, bringing his vast expertise as head of the firm’s German banking practice to the aviation sector.

The firm also maintains its reputation for excellence outside Europe. In South Africa, Pierre Naude is a “highly recommended” litigator, and has written numerous articles on aviation law. Heather Wilmot is noted for her finance, liability and regulatory work. Emma Giddings conducts a “super” finance practice in the firm’s Abu Dhabi office, acting for airlines, banks and lessors. In Japan, Tokyo-based Jeremy Gibb has built up an “impressive practice” consisting mainly of cross-border financing transactions, and in Singapore Leigh Borrello is considered “very responsive” as the head of the aviation finance practice in Asia.

Twelve lawyers from White & Case’s “seamless” global aviation team are identified as exceptional, with a particularly strong showing in the US. Richard Smith Jr and James Cairns stand out in the firm’s Los Angeles office for their transaction and finance expertise. Also focusing on aviation finance are Miami-based lawyers Richard Furey and Christian Hansen, the latter being recognised as an “international aviation expert”. In New York, “key contact” Michael Smith has in-depth experience of Exim bank finance and ECA funding for European aircraft transactions. James Hayden is also “highly regarded” for his work particularly focusing on Japanese operating leases and German leveraged leases, and is regularly invited to give seminars on aviation law.

Elsewhere, Sebastian Buss specialises in aviation project finance at the firm’s Istanbul office, and is highlighted for his “strong capabilities” in handling international transactions. In Singapore, Niel Liebenberg advises clients on aviation finance matters in the Asian market. Thomas McDonald from White & Case’s Moscow office is praised as a “strong negotiator” and mainly advises Russian airlines on fleet expansion, acquisition, financing and leasing. With over 25 years’ experience in international finance transactions, he is sought after by clients who also praise his excellent business manner.

The firm achieves three European entries. In England, Adrian Beasley is “in demand” from clients who include high-profile commercial airlines and business jet owners, and the “fantastic” Justin Benson is recognised for his asset finance expertise, with which he advises key clients on aviation financing issues. Victoria Westcott, practice head of the Paris asset finance group, displays “especially detailed knowledge” informed by almost 20 years’ experience advising on both French and English law relating to aviation finance.

Clifford Chance is once again recognised across the globe for its “first-class” aviation practice, with 11 lawyers selected for their expertise in aircraft finance. In London, “brilliant” banking and finance lawyer William Glaister comes “strongly recommended” by clients, while Nick Swinburne is noted as a “resourceful specialist” on debt options for aircraft leasing agreements. Robert Burley specialises in Japanese financing and asset-based transactions and is hailed for his “excellent commercial mindset”. Three outstanding attorneys from the firm’s New York office are selected. Global head of the transport and logistics group and co-head of the US asset finance practice Zarrar Sehgal is hailed as a “worldwide leader”, with clients ranging from private lenders and lessors to government agencies benefiting from his asset finance expertise. Geoffrey White is a “trusted source of advice” for clients, and John Howitt is nominated by peers as “one of the smartest lawyers” in aviation finance.

Clifford Chance maintains a healthy presence in the Asian market, with Simon Briscoe focusing on aviation transactions in his capacity as head of asset finance in Singapore. Hong Kong-based Paul Greenwell is respected for his expertise in leasing and financing and recognised for the “sensible and diligent” advice he provides to a wide range of international clients.

Victoria Bortkevicha is a celebrated member of the team in Russia, with peers rating her as “fantastic”. Her “broad and impressive” aviation project financing expertise includes advising on the repossession of Russian aircraft and the development and operational aspects of Pulkovo Airport, the first international PPP airport project in Russia.

In Dubai, Robin Abraham does an “excellent job” on high-profile aviation financing deals across the Middle East, while Fergus Evans, managing partner of the Bangkok office, specialises in ECA funded transactions and operating leases.

Our research this year highlights the strength of both full-service international firms and aviation-focused boutiques. The “outstanding” Gates and Partners, formed in 2003, is a firm of “unrivalled expertise”, and the 10 practitioners selected from four of its international offices are lauded for their commercial knowledge and “sensible” client approach.

In England, founding partner Sean Gates, one of the most highly nominated individuals in our research, is “quite simply the best litigator around”. His practice focuses on insurance, reinsurance and liability issues, matters on which he has “unparalleled knowledge”, and he acts as legal adviser to the International Union of Aviation Insurers. Paul Freeman also conducts a strong insurance and regulatory practice. With a “global outlook” informed by 15 years’ experience working in Asia and Australia, clients say his advice “always works”. Co-founder of the firm Dan Soffin, who splits his time between the UK and US, is “knowledgeable and professional” and clients seeking advice on a wide range of aviation issues benefit from his “strong business-oriented background”. Specialising in aviation liability, Neil McGilchrist is “respected by major players in the market”, having handled high-profile disaster cases including the Air France Concorde crash in Paris. On the finance side, Aoife O’Sullivan is lead partner in the aircraft finance department and provides “trusted judgement” on all aspects of financing and leasing arrangements, including how they relate to airline start-ups. Aileen Camacho specialises in Latin American and Caribbean aviation liability and insurance matters, and is “terrific” for complex cross-jurisdictional litigation, while John Korzeniowski conducts arbitration, mediation and litigation cases for international aviation clients.

Gates and Partners’ commercial expertise earns it three further international listings. In Paris, Thibaut de Mallmann works on insurance, liability and disaster cases as well as airport construction deals, notably in the Middle East. He is also recommended as an arbitrator. Head of the Singapore office David Johnston specialises in Asia-Pacific aviation liability and “stands out in the local marketplace”. Dubai-based Jim Edmunds is identified as a “leader in the financing field”, with a focus on start-ups and airport management, including advising governments on national airlines.

Full-service firm Vedder Price is “renowned” for its aviation practice across the US, with Gavin Hill enjoying a “really excellent” reputation for finance work in the firm’s London office. Chicago-based chair of the global transportation finance team Dean Gerber is highly nominated in our research, and recognised as “a dean of the US aviation bar – one of the best”. His respected finance practice is supplemented by frequent publications and seminar speeches, and he also sits on the Legal Advisory Panel for the Aviation Working Group. Joshua Gentner is also identified as a “leader”, having worked on numerous cross-border leasing transactions, ECA financings, and insolvency and restructuring deals. In New York, managing shareholder Jeffrey Veber is highlighted as outstanding, as well as the “globally recognised” John Karesh, who has advised on a vast number of airline bankruptcies over the past two decades. From the same office, Cameron Gee focuses on commercial bank finance; peers identify him as “commercially excellent” with “comprehensive knowledge”. Financing expert Ronald Scheinberg is “top in the field”, having written extensively on aviation finance. In Washington, DC, Edward Gross is the “go-to guy” for finance, insolvency and restructuring, and is “incredibly well respected” by commercial clients. Chicago-based Geoffrey Kass focuses on structured finance and lease agreements, and is labelled “cool, calm and sharp as a whip”.

Holman Fenwick Willan’s “pre-eminent” aviation practice also achieves nine entries in this edition. The London office fields four terrific lawyers, with further international entries demonstrating the strength of the firm’s “market-leading team”. Richard Gimblett is recommended for his “unsurpassed expertise” in liability and regulatory issues, having gained invaluable commercial experience from his time as in-house legal adviser at the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Sue Barham is “thoroughly recommended” for regulatory and dispute resolution work, and Nicholas Hughes is a “highly-considered” insurance and liability expert. Head of the firm’s global aerospace team, Giles Kavanagh, is “one of the best insurance and regulatory lawyers around”.

Pierre Frühling brings over 20 years’ experience in aviation law to Holman Fenwick Willan’s Belgium office. Having joined the firm in March 2012, he is widely recognised as a “leading individual” in the market.

The firm has a strong showing in Singapore. Mert Hifzi oversees the Asia aerospace team and is lauded for his “excellent” commercial litigation skills. Working alongside him is the “extensively capable” Keith Richardson, who advises a wide client base on a range of aviation law issues. In Hong Kong, Peter Coles is a “very reputable” liability lawyer, with more than 15 years’ experience representing operators, airports and manufacturers in the Asian market.

Flying the flag for Holman Fenwick Willan in Latin America is the “outstanding” Jeremy Shebson, head of the São Paulo office. Mainly handling aviation insurance cases, clients say “they simply don’t come better than him”.

Hogan Lovells LLP’s “technical knowledge” and “hands-on experience” see nine of the firm’s aviation lawyers listed in this year’s book, across Europe and the US. In London, Robert Fugard focuses on asset and Islamic finance options for aircraft funding, and advises global companies including the Arab Banking Corporation on aerospace deals. Robin Hallam is also recognised for the quality of his finance work, and Austen Hall has “considerable experience” in finance and regulatory matters, with particular “excellence” in environmental regulations.

Expanding the strength of the firm’s “world-class” aviation department is Richard Jadot, head of the banking and finance practice in Paris. With over 30 years’ experience, clients have confidence that he “always gets the best deal”.

Co-chair of the transportation sector team in Texas, Thad Thano Dameris is a “top guy”, rated for his “super” advice and representation in commercial crash and insurance disputes. Trevor Jefferies focuses on aviation litigation, mostly representing products manufacturers in disaster cases. Also in Texas is Bruce Oakley, “highly recommended” as a litigator, arbitrator and mediator of complex commercial aviation disputes. The Washington, DC, office fields two exceptional practitioners including E Tazewell Ellett, practice administrator of the firm’s aviation group, who uses his experience as former chief counsel of the Federal Aviation Authority to provide his wide client base with “excellent” regulatory advice. Jeffrey Shane is a “transportation expert” and is “uniquely well informed” on regulatory and legislative developments, having worked within the US Department of Transportation on several globally significant issues including the drafting of an open skies agreement for the US.

With over 70 years’ experience, specialist US aviation set Condon & Forsyth LLP is “widely respected” as an adviser to the biggest players in the aviation industry. The New York office fields “prominent” and “highly recommended” litigator and arbitrator Katherine Posner, as well as litigators Marshall Turner and Bartholomew Banino, the latter of whom focuses on air disasters, regulation and insurance. “Internationally renowned” litigator Desmond Barry Jr is considered “top rank” by peers and clients alike, having been a key member of the firm’s aviation team since 1973. Another high flyer in the New York office is Michael Holland, who has “significant experience” in “virtually every conceivable type of airline matter”. He is also in high demand as a writer, and seamlessly applies his theoretical knowledge of the subject to clients’ commercial disputes. Stephen Stegich also stands out, being described as “top notch”.

Frank Silane manages the Los Angeles office, and with over 35 years’ litigation experience, comes “highly recommended” by peers. Scott Cunningham also demonstrates “extensive skill” litigating on behalf of air carriers, manufacturers and insurers.

Holland & Knight LLP’s aviation department continues to go from strength to strength, with eight inclusions across the US this year. The firm prides itself on providing a “strong blend of legal acumen and industry knowledge” to its clients. “Outstanding” litigator Randal Craft Jr is “always the go-to guy”, and as head of the national aviation industry team is extremely well regarded by peers. Also in New York is Fred Bass, praised for his “considerable experience” in domestic and cross-border finance and leasing deals. Particularly celebrated in the field is John Pritchard, the “acknowledged leader of the air finance bar in the US”. He is rated as “top of the industry” and is a particular authority on Exim bank transactions.

Anita Mosner is the “highly professional” deputy chair of Holland & Knight’s aviation team. She is in demand not only as a counsel and adviser, but also as a speaker at conferences, and her background in consulting allows her to fully contextualise the commercial implications of aviation law issues. In the San Francisco office, William Piels has a “tremendous” reputation, and during his 25 years’ practice has developed hands-on expertise in a range of aviation financing projects. Thomas Zimmer, George Mencio and Alan Reitzfeld were also consistently nominated highly by peers.

Also performing well in the US is full service firm Perkins Coie LLP, which displays an “unparalleled record” of excellence in aviation law. Richard Coyle and Peter Archie are ranked by peers as strong litigators, the former having represented high-profile clients including Boeing and Precision Aerospace. “Doyen of litigation” Keith Gerrard and partner John Dillow are also trusted by clients to get the best result, and Steve Bell is noted for his 38 years’ experience in the aviation sector. Meanwhile, Douglas MacBain has a “stellar reputation” for aircraft financing, and Thomas McLaughlin is sought after for disaster litigation in particular.

Seven practitioners are selected from Allen & Overy, across five different countries. In England, Mario Jacovides has a “very solid reputation”, utilising his “phenomenal” expertise as global head of the structured and asset finance group to provide creative advice and solutions. Elsewhere in Europe, Werner Eyskens is highlighted for his “excellent negotiation style” as a litigator and arbitrator for contentious aspects of commercial transactions. In the Netherlands, Hilde van der Baan is nominated alongside Willem van Baren, who is “top class on financing”. Currently president of the Netherlands Arbitration Institute, he is also in demand for alternative dispute resolution.

The firm’s strong Asian presence has helped it gain its “world-class reputation” for aviation law, with Yvonne Ho recognised as a “key figure in Beijing” for her work on cross-border financing deals. Also a financing expert, Shanghai-based Matthew Bisley is an “excellent communicator” and praised by clients for his “constructive commercial advice”. The firm shines in Australia, with Jason Huinink running an “excellent” aviation practice in Sydney, displaying a particular “depth of knowledge” in structured and asset financing.

The most highly nominated individual in our worldwide research this year is Kenneth Basch, founding partner of Brazilian full-service firm Basch & Rameh. “Undoubtedly the market leader in Brazil”, he has built up an impressive reputation in aircraft finance, regularly representing banks, lessors and manufacturers in aircraft leasing deals. Also extremely well regarded is Donald Gray, head of Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP’s aircraft finance practice and co-practice group leader of the firm’s aviation and aerospace group. With “considerable experience” within the airline industry, he is an “incredibly strong” aviation lawyer and clients rate him as “the only one for international matters”.

Several practitioners from India are recognised this year, with Ravi Nath at Rajinder Narain & Co identified as “the go-to guy” for aircraft financing. Standing out at Netherlands firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek NV is Berend Crans, noted for his “vast intellect and ability to apply it”.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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