Private Funds 2019: Analysis

WWL's research into the global private funds space is now in its 16th year. In this edition, we recommend more than 500 leading fund formation practitioners and over 130 standout regulatory experts.

 

Methodology

Who's Who Legal does not list law firms, only individual lawyers. The leading firms are those in each region whose listed practitioners received the most total nominations in our research. We highlight individuals at other firms who also scored very highly in our research.
 
The Thought Leaders are those individuals who received the highest number of nominations from peers, corporate counsel and other market sources this year. Our research has identified them as being truly outstanding practitioners and the very best in their field.
 

Formation

EMEA

Thought Leaders
1. Mark Mifsud Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP, London
2. Jason Glover Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, London
3. Kate Downey Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP, London
4. Nigel Hatfield Clifford Chance LLP, London
5. Nigel van Zyl Proskauer Rose, London
6. Gilles Dusemon Arendt & Medernach, Luxembourg
7. Nathalie Duguay Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Paris

Leading Firms

Clifford Chance

This full-service international firm achieves five listings in the region.
Nigel Hatfield heads the private funds team in London and draws praise as “an excellent practitioner” for his expertise in fund establishment and structuring. Peers highlight him as someone who is “very strong for infrastructure funds”.
Gerard Saviola is highlighted as “a very prominent practitioner” who is “outstanding” in the fund formation space. He advises fund managers and sponsors in jurisdictions around the world.
Sonya Pauls “has a really good practice” say peers, who speak highly of her extensive experience in private equity and venture capital structures.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

This commercial law firm sees three practitioners listed here.
Jason Glover is described as “the number-one lawyer for funds formation” by peers, who add, “He is astonishingly good with mega funds.” He comes highly regarded for providing sophisticated advice in complex private equity fund structuring matters.
Gareth Earl “is top of the UK market” say peers, who widely endorse him as “a leader” in fund formation for his expertise establishing and managing a broad range of private equity, growth and credit funds.
Seema Shah enjoys “an excellent reputation” thanks to her expert advice on sponsorship and operation of private investment funds. She is highlighted by peers as “a great funds formation lawyer”.

Simmons & Simmons

Nine lawyers from this prestigious commercial law firm are listed here.
Richard Perry is “a big player” in the UK market, say peers. He is “very well known” for providing excellent advice on fund formation and investment products.
One source calls Iain Cullen “the god of hedge funds” for his sophisticated advice on complex structuring matters. He is regularly engaged to advise fund managers in relation to large and high-profile funds.
The “excellent” David Williams enjoys a superb reputation for providing sophisticated advice to fund managers, investors and service providers.

Arendt & Medernach

This Luxembourg-based firm achieves eight listings here.
Gilles Dusemon stands out as “an outstanding lawyer” who peers regard as “the first point of call” for alternative investment fund formation matters. We identify Dusemon as a Global Elite Thought Leader in this year’s chapter.
Claude Kremer is a highly regarded practitioner who draws praise as “a very impressive lawyer” for his expertise in establishing global investment funds.
Claude Niedner “is a top performer at the firm”, say market commentators. He is highly regarded for his expertise in investment funds and is well known for his work with real estate and hedge funds.

Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson

Two lawyers from this commercial law firm are highlighted here.
Mark Mifsud is “one of the best-known” practitioners in the market, and the leading name in the region according to our research. He has “an incredible practice” featuring deep experience in fund establishment and structuring.
Kate Downey is highlighted as “a huge asset” in fund formation, drawing praise for her “excellent work” for fund sponsors and financial institutions.

Proskauer Rose

This year’s research shines the spotlight on two highly regarded practitioners from this commercial law firm.
Nigel van Zyl draws praise as “a great lawyer” who is regularly engaged to advise investors, investment advisors and asset managers on a broad range of formation and operational matters. 
The “excellent” Kate Simpson is well known for her deep expertise in private fund establishment and structuring matters. She is a trusted adviser to investors and is regularly engaged to provide counsel on structuring investment funds and private equity portfolios.

Debevoise & Plimpton

Performs well in this year’s research, achieving four listings in the region.
Geoffrey Kittredge stands out as “the doyen” of private fund formation work. He is “a long-standing expert” in the field and is widely recommended for his work in real estate funds.
Patricia Volhard advises on “strong international mandates” and “is extremely well known” for her sophisticated expertise in private equity and investment funds.

Other Leading Individuals

England

At Kirkland & Ellis International, Richard Watkins is praised as “one of the lead fund formation lawyers in London”. Clients say, “He is very strong technically and always approaches projects with the client’s commercial objectives in mind.”

Macfarlanes’ Alex Amos is “a standout name” in the space who is held in high esteem for his expert counsel to investors and asset managers. He boasts deep knowledge of credit and real estate funds and peers note that he is “very strong on debt funds”.

At Linklaters, Jonathan de Lance-Holmes is “the go-to guy” for technical fund formation advice. He has extensive experience in private equity and hedge funds and specialist knowledge of infrastructure and real estate investments.

France

Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s Nathalie Duguay is highlighted “a very strong presence in France” and emerges as the top name in the jurisdiction this year for her “excellent” funds formation practice. She stands out as a Global Elite Thought Leader in our listings.

Ann Baker is “a go-to lawyer” at Gide Loyrette Nouel AARPI. She has a strong finance practice advising investors and sponsors and is a well-known expert in private equity fund formation.

Luxembourg

At Loyens & Loeff, Marc Meyers “is a name to have on speed dial”, say peers, who praise his “excellent” fund structuring practice and his vast expertise in private equity and debt funds.

Scotland

Scottish commercial law firm Burness Paull achieves two listings.
Alan Soppitt leads the firm’s funds practice and is highlighted as “a top lawyer” for private equity and investment fund structuring advice, with market commentators enthusing simply: “He’s really good.”
Paula Kennedy is held in high esteem for her “excellent advice” on complex investment fund structuring and formation questions. She advises investors and boasts deep knowledge of private equity funds.

Switzerland

Olivier Stahler is a top name in Switzerland and a leading light at Lenz & Staehelin. He is commended as “an excellent lawyer” and is well known for his expansive knowledge of private equity and hedge funds.

 

The Americas

Thought Leaders
1. Rebecca F Silberstein Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, New York
2. Michael A Gerstenzang Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, New York
3. Stephanie R Breslow Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, New York
4. Marco V Masotti Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, New York

Leading Firms

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison

This firm is home to four leading lawyers in this year’s research. 
Marco Masotti “works at a very high level”, say peers, who describe him as “an excellent lawyer” with a strong profile in the formation market. He boasts broad expertise in asset management and is a go-to adviser to major investment funds and asset managers.
Udi Grofman stands out as “an excellent lawyer” with a first-rate fund practice. He is an expert in establishing hedge, private equity and hybrid funds among others.
Amran Hussein draws praise for her “hands-on approach”, which makes her “a pleasure to work with”, say peers. She is a highly knowledgeable investment fund lawyer and is a go-to adviser to sponsors and investor funds.
Yvonne Chan is a highly regarded expert in fund formation matters. She is held in high esteem as “a fantastic practitioner” with extensive experience in private equity fund formation in Asia.

Kirkland & Ellis

Nine specialists from this international commercial law firm are listed here.
Erica Berthou stands out as “one of the very best” lawyers for her top-quality work for US and international sponsors. Peers say, “She has a great way with clients and is very service-oriented.”
Andrew Wright draws widespread recognition for his “excellent formation practice” and is well known for providing sophisticated advice to major sponsors in high-value funds.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Eight lawyers from this firm are highlighted in the North American region.
Michael Wolitzer is celebrated as “the dean of the practice” and is a practitioner who “means business”, according to interviewees. He is regularly engaged to advise on large infrastructure and real estate funds, acting for numerous prominent clients including Blackstone and Apax Partners.
Thomas Bell, founder of the firm’s private funds group, is a big name in the US market and is widely endorsed as an “outstanding” fund formation lawyer.
Glenn Sarno has a strong transactional practice and is a go-to lawyer for private fund investment across a broad range of industries. He advises private funds and hedge fund sponsors.

Schulte Roth & Zabel

This US firm achieves five listings this year.
Stephanie Breslow is “a standout name” in the private funds space who is known for her expertise in investment management and private equity fund formation. She is a go-to adviser to sponsors and investors and noted as “very good on the hedge fund side”.
David Nissenbaum is a highly regarded practitioner who is well known for his wide-ranging experience advising sponsors, investment managers and private investment funds in structured products and fund formation. 

Other Leading Individuals

Canada

Two lawyers from Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg are highlighted here.
Sarbjit Basra is a standout individual in Canada and is well known for providing expert advice on strategic fund formation in the private equity and venture capital spaces.
Timothy Baron is “a superb lawyer” who comes highly regarded for his broad experience advising on investment funds and structured finance products. He boasts extensive knowledge of infrastructure fund formation and is a go-to adviser among corporate clients.
At Torys, Bernard Kwasniewski stands out as “a brilliant, experienced, hands-on lawyer”. Sources add that he is “excellent at understanding the broader private equity landscape”.

USA

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld achieves seven listings this year.
Stephen Vine “is very well known” for his first-rate investment management practice and longstanding experience in the area. He boasts over 40 years’ experience and is go-to counsel among major funds and managers.
Stuart Leblang is a prominent figure in New York who is well known for his strong tax practice and superb experience in high-value fund formation.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher achieves five listings in the region.
Edward Sopher is a high-profile name in the US who is known for his strong track record in private investment fund formation. His experience spans private equity, credit and real estate funds and is well regarded for the highly sophisticated advice he provides in this space. 
Shukie Grossman draws praise as “an excellent funds lawyer” who impresses peers with his depth of knowledge on investment fund matters.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton garners two listings here.
Global Elite Thought Leader Michael Gerstenzang “is clearly a leader” in the market and enjoys a superb reputation for his experience in private equity fund formation. Peers say, “Everyone knows he’s great.”
Elizabeth Lenas “is one of the best fund lawyers that I know”, says one market commentator. She is highly skilled in the area and is a trusted adviser to high-profile private investment firms.
Michael Tannenbaum, founding partner of Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt, boasts almost four decades’ experience advising on complex financial matters. He is a distinguished expert in private equity fund formation and is regularly engaged to advise US and international investors, funds and sponsors.
Debevoise & Plimpton’s Rebecca Silberstein draws praise as “one of the very best” practitioners in the US market. She is a trusted adviser to major investment banks, funds and financial institutions and boasts broad experience in private equity fund formation.

 

Offshore

For the purposes of this editorial, the following jurisdictions are considered “offshore”: Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Mauritius. This definition is to enable the grouping of multi-jurisdiction offshore law firms who would otherwise have to be covered across multiple geographical regions.
 
Thought Leaders
1. Iain McMurdo Maples and Calder, Grand Cayman
2. Tim Morgan Mourant Ozannes, St Helier
3. David Crosland Carey Olsen, St Peter Port

Leading Firm

Maples and Calder 

This leading offshore law firm achieves eight listings.
Iain McMurdo stands out as “a very well-regarded practitioner” in the Cayman Islands. He boasts a stellar private equity practice and is described by peers as “a rainmaker”.
The “excellent” Jon Fowler is a prominent figure at the firm and widely known for his vast experience in hedge fund formation.

Mourant Ozannes

Eleven practitioners from this premier offshore firm are listed here.
Tim Morgan “is very well known” in the market for his sophisticated knowledge of investment fund formation. He advises on the formation of listed and non-listed funds and is a go-to expert in Jersey.
Darren Bacon “is certainly a favourite” among peers and clients, who speak highly of his deep knowledge of investment funds.

Carey Olsen

This firm achieves eight listings in offshore markets this year.
David Crosland “is very highly rated” in the international market place and comes highly recommended for his vast experience in establishing investment funds.
Ben Morgan is widely endorsed as “an excellent lawyer” for his stellar investment fund practice and broad experience advising fund managers on large hedge and property funds.

Other Leading Individuals

 

Cayman Islands

Two practitioners from Walkers are highlighted here.
Ingrid Pierce enjoys a phenomenal reputation for her “strong substantive knowledge and practical advice”. Peers describe her as “a leader” in the offshore market and say, “You can totally count on her.”
Caroline Williams is highlighted as “one of the leading lawyers in Cayman”, by peers, who speak highly of her first-rate private equity clients and “excellent work for big institutional clients”.

Jersey

Emily Haithwaite is a leading practitioner at Ogier. Peers describe her as “excellent” for her work advising banks and asset managers on the establishment of large funds.

 

Asia-Pacific

Thought Leaders
1. Arnold Tan Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP, Singapore
2. Siddharth Shah Khaitan & Co, India

Leading Firms

King & Wood Mallesons

This international firm has a strong footprint in Asia and achieves four listings in this section.
John Sullivan is a highly regarded practitioner in the Singapore market. Clients say, “He is thorough, comes up with innovative structures and is very proactive in encouraging us to think of certain considerations well in advance.”
Guo Sun Lee draws wide-ranging endorsements as “an excellent formation lawyer”. He impresses peers with his strong client service and is regularly engaged to advise on large private equity funds in Hong Kong and emerging markets.

Rajah & Tann Singapore

Four lawyers from this top-tier Singaporean law firm are listed here.
Arnold Tan impresses peers and clients alike with “his professionalism, accuracy and deep understanding of Singapore’s regulatory requirements”. According to one client, “He is very commercial and is able to provide solutions tailored to our business practices.”
Lu Yueh Leong stands out for “her perfect combination of legal expertise and customer service”. Clients say, “She takes the time to understand the issue, proposes the right solution and always helps us understand the options and final decision process.”

Khaitan & Co

This Indian firm achieves two listings this year.  
Siddharth Shah is a prominent practitioner in India who is well known for providing sophisticated advice on the formation of high-value funds.
Bijal Ajinkya is highly visible in the market and impresses peers with her expansive knowledge of private investment and fund formation matters.

Other Leading Individuals

Hong Kong

At Kirkland & Ellis, Justin Dolling is highlighted as “one of the key players” in the region. He enjoys a superb reputation for his “excellent work” advising private equity fund managers.

India

At Nishith Desai Associates, Nishith Desai boasts a broad practice and is a very highly regarded practitioner in the fund formation space.

Singapore

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s Robert Griffin Jr stands out as “a key player in the market” and is held in high regard by peers, who say, “He is very strong in deals with a US element.”


Regulatory

EMEA

Thought Leaders
1. Stephanie Biggs Travers Smith LLP, London
2. Phil Bartram Travers Smith LLP, London

Leading Firms

Travers Smith

Five esteemed practitioners from this elite commercial law firm are listed here.
Stephanie Biggs advice “is as good as it gets” when it comes to fundraising regulation and compliance matters, say sources. Clients comment, “We always feel as though she is on top of everything in the field and that she is acutely aware of how regulatory changes may impact us.”
Phil Bartram stands out as “an exceptional regulatory lawyer” with a strong private funds practice. According to one client, “We trust him completely and he would always be our first-choice adviser on any regulatory matter.”
Margaret Chamberlain is “a big name” in the London market, and is widely regarded as “a leader” in the regulatory space. She has extensive experience in the financial services industry and is a trusted adviser to regulators and governments.
Tim Lewis draws praise as “a fantastic ambassador for the UK’s private equity industry” and is commended for his “intelligent, thoughtful and proactive approach” to complex regulatory matters in the financial services industry.
Jane Tuckley enjoys “a strong reputation for substantive excellence in her field”, according to our sources. She advises on sophisticated UK and EU regulatory matters and is a go-to lawyer among fund and portfolio managers, investment banks and corporate finance firms.

Lenz & Staehelin

This leading Swiss firm achieves two listings. 
Olivier Stahler is “very engaged at the technical level” of complex regulatory matters. Clients say, “He listens to our needs and is exceptionally responsive to them. His guidance is always sound and technically accurate.”
The “excellent” François Rayroux is a highly regarded practitioner in the Swiss market who is well known for his sophisticated regulatory advice on a broad range of investment management issues. His portfolio of prominent clients includes banks and securities dealers.

Other Leading Individuals

England

Adrian Brown at Reed Smith is “an outstanding lawyer” with a superb reputation for his vast knowledge of private funds regulation in the real estate and financial services industries.

Lisa Cawley is a prominent figure at Kirkland & Ellis International who enjoys “an excellent reputation in the market” for her expansive knowledge of financial services regulation.

Sidley Austin’s Leonard Ng stands out as “a great lawyer” for his stellar practice encompassing UK and EU financial services regulation. Peers say, “He is very strong on the hedge fund side.”

At Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, Gregg Beechey is a well-known name in the market for his broad knowledge of asset management regulation and compliance. He particularly draws praise from sources for his “extensive experience with US funds”.

Darren Fox is a leading light at Simmons & Simmons and impresses peers with his “excellent work” surrounding hedge fund regulations.

Germany

Debevoise & Plimpton’s Patricia Volhard is a highly regarded “leader in the field”, with deep knowledge of EU fund regulations. Peers say, “She is committed to her clients and is a pragmatic negotiator.”

Luxembourg

Arendt & Medernach’s Gilles Dusemon has “a strong corporate practice” and is regularly engaged to advise on regulatory matters relating to debt and equity funds.

At Elvinger Hoss & Prussen, Jacques Elvinger is “a very senior authority” in the market and is well known for providing first-rate regulatory advice to investment funds and management companies.

 

The Americas

Thought Leaders
1. David A Vaughan Dechert LLP, Washington, DC
2. Barry P Barbash Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, Washington, DC

Leading Firms

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

This commercial law firm achieves two listings.
Philip Harris is a distinguished funds lawyer who “sees around corners and gets to the right answer using his vast knowledge base and pragmatic outlook”, according to impressed sources. Other market commentators add, “He knows all the rules and can give you answers.”
Richard Prins is “a highly respected” practitioner with a long-standing reputation for providing sophisticated regulatory advice on complex investment products.

Paul Hastings

Two lawyers from this firm are recommended here.
Tram Nguyen “has her finger on the pulse” and is a trusted adviser to major financial institutions and investment advisers. She has extensive knowledge of US regulations, with market commentators saying, “You can always call her about the trickiest issues – she’ll know where to look and what to do.”
Yousuf Dhamee draws praise for “his broad scholarly knowledge” which, peers say, “is integral to knowing regulatory aspects” of private investment matters. Marker commentators also comment, “Everything he does is informed by wider knowledge. He is a great formation and regulatory attorney.”

Other Leading Individuals

Canada

At Stikeman Elliott, Alix d'Anglejan-Chatillon impresses peers with her deep knowledge of investment management regulation. She boasts specialist expertise in derivatives and capital market and is a go-to adviser among domestic and international clients.

Sébastien Thériault is a prominent figure at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg in Montreal. He is well known for his sophisticated knowledge of private equity and hedge fund regulation and has extensive experience in the financial services industry.

USA

Dechert’s David Vaughan draws praise as “a remarkable practitioner” who enjoys “an excellent reputation in the funds regulatory space”. He is a prominent expert on investment managements and boasts over 20 years’ experience advising on private fund policy.

At Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Barry Barbash is a leading practitioner in the market who “really knows the regulations of private and public funds” and offers clients extensive experience in the investment management industry.

Independent legal consultant Yukako Kawata is a highly regarded regulatory lawyer with “a very good reputation throughout the industry”, according to impressed market sources.

“Everyone knows” Proskauer Rose’s Robert Plaze, who excels for his expert advice on sophisticated investment management matters. Peers say, “He wrote the bible on investment regulation in the US – he’s fantastic.”

 

Offshore

For the purposes of this editorial, the following jurisdictions are considered “offshore”: Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Mauritius. This definition is to enable the grouping of multi-jurisdiction offshore law firms who would otherwise have to be covered across multiple geographical regions.

Leading Firms

Maples and Calder

This offshore firm achieves two listings in the regulatory space.
Jon Fowler is celebrated as “a very fine lawyer” who enjoys an excellent reputation for his wide-ranging experience advising on complex private equity and hedge fund regulatory matters.
The “excellent” Jonathan Green boasts a first-rate regulatory practice and is regularly engaged to advise on regulations surrounding fund formation and operational matters.

Ogier

Two lawyers from this offshore outfit are listed here.
Niamh Lalor is a prominent figure in Jersey who is well known for her broad regulatory knowledge spanning private equity and venture capital funds.
Emily Haithwaite draws praise for her extensive experience in the financial services industry and for providing high-quality regulatory advice to large asset managers and banks.

Appleby

This firm is well known for providing expert offshore services and achieves two listings here.
On the Isle of Man, Simon Harding is a highly regarded expert in financial services and investment regulation. He has broad experience in restructuring funds and enjoys an excellent reputation for his work in the space.
Andrew Weaver is an esteemed regulatory lawyer who enjoys an outstanding reputation for is expertise in real estate and private equity funds. He is a trusted adviser to clients from around the world.

Other Leading Individuals

Cayman Islands

Walkers’ Lucy Frew draws praise for her “pragmatic and insightful advice” and impresses clients with “her detailed knowledge of multiple jurisdictions and ability to advise on them in a regulatory context”.

At Mourant Ozannes, Alex Last stands out as “a really impressive lawyer”. Clients speak highly of his “concise and pragmatic advice”, which he provides to major sponsors.

 

Asia-Pacific

Thought Leaders
1. Arnold Tan Rajah & Tann Singapore, Singapore

Leading Firms 

Deacons

This Hong Kong law firm is a major player in the region and achieves four listings here.
With over three decades’ experience, the “excellent” Rory Gallaher is a standout name in Hong Kong. He boasts vast experience in fund management and offers clients specialist expertise in hedge and retail funds.
Jeremy Lam is commended as “a superb practitioner” who impresses peers with his deep knowledge of asset management regulation and strong compliance practice.

Clifford Chance

This international powerhouse firm achieves two listings.
Mark Shipman is a highly regarded regulatory lawyer who is well-known for providing expert advice to fund managers, banks and insurance companies.
“Regulatory expert” Lena Ng impresses market commentators with “her commercial and practical advice and her ability to discern the needs of her clients”. They also comment that she is “technically very strong on the law and the regulations”.

Other Leading Individuals

Singapore

At Rajah & Tann Singapore, the “excellent” Arnold Tan draws praise as “a top-notch lawyer” who is “absolutely a leader” in the field. He is regularly engaged to advise investment managers and financial institutions on complex regulatory matters.

Kah Keong Low at WongPartnership draws praise as “a superb practitioner”. He leads the funds practice at the firm and is a go-to adviser to sponsors, fund managers and sovereign wealth funds.

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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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