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Thought Leaders

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Thought Leaders Global Elite - Private Funds - Formation 2021


WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

The “excellent” Stephanie Breslow is a “market-leading lawyer” who focuses her first-rate practice on private equity and liquid-securities funds

Questions & Answers

Stephanie R Breslow is a Schulte Roth & Zabel partner who serves as co-head of the investment management group, and as a member of the firm’s executive committee. She is renowned for her practice in investment management, focusing on private equity and hedge funds investing in multiple strategies, including activism, credit, equities, litigation finance, and crypto and blockchain assets. She earned her JD from Columbia University School of Law, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar, and her BA, cum laude, from Harvard University.

What makes SRZ stand out from its competitors? 

SRZ has been focused on providing advice and assistance to fund sponsors and investors since the time of our formation. As a result, we represent a broader range of fund sponsors, and see a broader range of fund strategies, than our competitors. Our fund formation group in New York and London is large but, equally importantly, representation of fund clients is a main focus of virtually all practice areas of the firm. Our M&A lawyers, finance and bankruptcy lawyers, real estate lawyers, regulatory and compliance lawyers, litigators and narrower specialists in areas such as intellectual property, trusts and estates, blockchain and crypto assets, and activism, are all expert in the unique issues and market terms relevant to fund representation, and we are confident that we know the market and are an active part of its evolution.

What do you predict will be the long-term effects of the pandemic?

In the short term, the pandemic shifted the winners and losers among fund strategies. Distressed credit investing, which had faced disappointing returns when compared to the thriving bull market, came back into favour, and there was a rush to find capital, including through co-investment vehicles. Managed hedge strategies appeared more attractive than index equity investing as a way to avoid extreme performance volatility. There were many operational challenges caused by the move to remote working, including the impossibility of investors doing the level of in-person diligence on new managers that they would otherwise have expected, and difficulties in opening bank accounts and establishing relationships with counterparties. By now, these problems have become less severe, and the transition away from the office has gone more smoothly, for us and our clients, than we anticipated. Longer term, I expect that we will achieve a new balance between office and home, and that the winners and losers among fund sponsors and strategies will shift again. In the meantime, it has been a very busy time for us, as periods of market volatility always are.

We’ve recently seen Facebook float the idea of its own cryptocurrency - is this a trend you expect to continue? 

Established cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are now an accepted part of the investment universe, but their use as means of payment is not widespread and banks, large institutions and government entities have not become crypto issuers. Government acceptance of crypto would need to grow in order for issuances by established institutions to succeed. It is not hard to see why governments, which currently control the issuance and to some extent the valuation of their own fiat currencies, would not unambivalently embrace this development. On the other hand, cybercrime is becoming an increasingly serious problem, and transactions on a decentralised ledger could prove to be the best way to combat some of the ways in which traditional means of payment and verification of ownership are becoming unsafe.

What key skills make an effective private funds lawyer? 

To some extent, the skills that make an effective lawyer are the same regardless of practice area — intelligence, good judgment, strong interpersonal skills, passion for the work and a serious work ethic leap to mind. For private funds lawyers, the more specialised skills are an understanding of the business side of fund sponsor firms, an understanding of what it means for a client to be a fiduciary and the likely views of regulators about best practices, an ability to see and balance the goals of fund sponsors versus investors, an ability to leap nimbly on issues for multiple clients in a day that may bear little resemblance to what you thought when heading into the office, and a personal style that does not treat interactions with investors and counterparties as adversarial.

What steps is SRZ taking to support diversity? 

We have retained a diversity director to help us think through what we could be doing better, and have adopted a number of initiatives, including regular trainings for all lawyers on unconscious bias; appointing a task force on racial justice to provide the firm with recommendations for pro bono and community service; joining the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance; making relevant charitable donations; and developing a protocol around work allocation. We are very focused on our retention and promotion efforts.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners? 

Don’t panic about the fact that you do not yet understand financial markets and investment strategies; that knowledge will come. But do ask yourself if you are excited by them, because the best lawyers are the ones who care about what they are helping their clients build.

Global Leader

Private Funds - Formation 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

The “excellent” Stephanie Breslow is a “market-leading lawyer” who focuses her first-rate practice on private equity and liquid-securities funds


Stephanie R Breslow is co-head of the Investment Management Group and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. She maintains a diverse practice that includes liquid funds, private equity funds and the structuring of investment management businesses. She focuses her practice on the formation of private equity funds (including LBO, mezzanine, distressed, real estate and venture) and liquid-securities funds (including hedge funds, hybrid funds, credit funds and activist funds) as well as providing regulatory advice to investment managers. She also represents fund sponsors and institutional investors in connection with seed-capital investments in fund managers and acquisitions of interests in investment management businesses and funds of funds and other institutional investors in connection with their investment activities, including blockchain technology and virtual currency offerings and transactions.

Recently serving as chair of the Private Investment Funds Subcommittee of the International Bar Association, Stephanie is a founding member and former chair of the Private Investment Fund Forum, a former member of the Advisory Board of former Third Way Capital Markets Initiative, a former member of the Board of Directors and current member of 100 Women in Finance, a member of the Board of Visitors of Columbia Law School and a member of the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. Stephanie has received the highest industry honors. She was named to the inaugural The Legal 500 US Hall of Fame in the category of “Investment Fund Formation and Management: Alternative/Hedge Funds.” Stephanie is also listed in Chambers USA: America’s Leading LawyersChambers Global: The World’s Leading LawyersCrain’s Notable Women in Law, IFLR1000 Women LeadersBest Lawyers in America, Who’s Who Legal: Private Funds (which ranked her at the top of the world’s “Most Highly Regarded Individuals” list), Who’s Who Legal Thought Leaders: Global Elite, Who’s Who Legal Thought Leaders: Private Funds, Expert Guide to the Best of the Best USAExpert Guide to the World’s Leading Banking, Finance and Transactional Law Lawyers, Expert Guide to the World’s Leading Women in Business Law and PLC Cross-border Private Equity Handbook, among other leading directories. Stephanie was named the “Private Funds Lawyer of the Year” at the Who’s Who Legal Awards 2014 and the Euromoney Legal Media Group’s “Best in Investment Funds” and “Outstanding Practitioner,” both at the Americas Women in Business Law Awards. She is also recognized as one of The Hedge Fund Journal’s 50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds and was named one of the 2012 Women of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. Stephanie’s representation of leading private investment funds has won numerous awards, including most recently Law360’s Asset Management Practice Group of the Year. She is a much sought-after speaker on fund formation and operation and compliance issues, and she regularly publishes articles on the latest trends in these areas. Stephanie co-authored Private Equity Funds: Formation and Operation (Practising Law Institute), co-authored Hedge Funds: Formation, Operation and Regulation (ALM Law Journal Press), contributed a chapter on “Hedge Fund Investment in Private Equity” for inclusion in PLC Cross-border Private Equity Handbook 2005/06 (Practical Law Company), contributed a chapter on “Advisers to Private Equity Funds — Practical Compliance Considerations” for Mutual Funds and Exchange Traded Funds Regulation, Volume 2 (Practising Law Institute), and wrote New York and Delaware Business Entities: Choice, Formation, Operation, Financing and Acquisitions (West) and New York Limited Liability Companies: A Guide to Law and Practice (West).

Stephanie earned her JD from Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar, and her BA, cum laude, from Harvard University.

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