Competition for deals, keeping on top of regulatory change, and spotting opportunities against a backdrop of uncertainty are among the biggest challenges currently facing private equity lawyers according to a number of the industry’s top performers.
Speaking to pfm ahead of the launch of the latest Thirty under 40, our search for tomorrow’s superstar private equity lawyers, a panel of previous nominees discussed opportunities, threats and best practice for their younger peers in the current market.
“Private equity lawyers need to understand the art of providing commercial and timely advice while safeguarding our clients from increased regulatory scrutiny,” Daniel Lavron-Krein of Kirkland & Ellis told pfm.
On how the industry has changed since he became a lawyer, Lavron-Krien said the landscape had become more complex.
“When I started practicing you would have a limited, often US-based offering and had very clear guidelines on how this can be accomplished. Today, we represent sponsors raising multibillion dollar vehicles on a global scale and are faced with new laws in the US, Europe and Asia.”
Political uncertainty, namely the Trump presidency and Brexit, has added to the challenges and complexity, one lawyer said.
“[These issues] are symptoms of a radical global shift in attitudes and values, posing significant questions about the future of globalization,” said Paul van den Abeele of Clifford Chance, “in such times, uncertainty is king, making predictions difficult and businesses suffer.”
Other issues raised included the increased negotiation of fund documentation which has made negotiation skills and really understanding developing market practice ever more critical, and the maturing of the industry.
“The industry has developed significantly. Many fund sponsors have moved from single product offerings to multi-product platforms. Institutional investors have always been sophisticated in their approach to fund investment, but the level of familiarity with private equity structures and fund terms is quite extraordinary,” Sally Gibson of Debevoise & Plimpton said.
Thirty under 40 was first launched in 2015, and the final list included an impressive bunch: 27 had been named partner and four were already serving as heads of co-heads of their departments. They had all made names for themselves by working with big-name clients and effective thought leadership.
Over the next three months we plan to ask a cross-section of industry participants, trusted contacts and the law firms themselves to nominate private funds lawyers under the age of 40. We will then whittle down the nominations to the elite 30.
Nominations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 31 outlining in 350 words why the lawyer is worthy of inclusion. Nominations should also include the name of a junior lawyer from a rival firm. Lawyers must be under 40 on October 1 2017.