Adveq: PE lawyers ‘should not work in a bubble’

Today’s private equity lawyer needs a good understanding of areas outside of their specialism, according to Adveq general counsel John Atherton.

Private equity lawyers specializing in one particular area, such as fund formation, must also understand other areas of law that might impact investment management firms if they want to work with Adveq, says general counsel John Atherton.

“While lawyers can specialize in a particular area, they should not be working in a bubble” Atherton told pfm. “A good general understanding of areas outside their specialism that might impact on investment management firms is very valuable in order that they can anticipate the types of issues that might come up in the future.”

Adveq currently works with four or five different law firms. When the European fund of funds manager decides to outsource legal work, the in-house team often looks for legal specialists “who can assist us with new regulatory requirements relevant to our business, or specialists in the legal due diligence and execution of investments.”

However, any specialist lawyer that the firm instructs is also required to have a solid understanding of general legal matters around private funds. “If we hire a fund structuring expert we would expect them to have a good working knowledge of the regulatory aspects that are relevant to our funds and to be able to point out if there are specific issues that require us to engage with a regulatory specialist,” Atherton added.

The legal market has become increasingly competitive. According to Atherton, law firms need to do more to show investment management firms that they have real value-add.

In recent months, the sector has seen a high volume of people moves. Debevoise & Plimpton and K&L Gates recently hired former US Securities and Exchange Commission staff to help clients deal with increasing regulatory and compliance demands.

Law firm King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) has seen the departure of a number of private equity lawyers to rival firms. Most recently four of KWM’s private equity and M&A lawyers were poached by Goodwin Procter open a new practice in France.