Broadly speaking, corporate or transactional lawyers advise companies on a variety of transactions—including M&A, financings, and securities—in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. Corporate generalists work across these disciplines and can sometimes act as “outside general counsel.” What a corporate generalist focuses on can depend a lot on their location. In New York, the work leans toward finance and securities work, while in Washington, DC, it tends to be more regulatory. On the West Coast, corporate attorneys often deal with venture capital and the issues affecting emerging companies. While there are certain large firms that encourage their corporate attorneys to have a broad practice, many require them to specialize in only one area. Attorneys who wish to be corporate generalists often look to practice in smaller firms or in smaller, regional offices of large firms where specialization is not required. Corporate generalists often have the most in-house opportunities because they have touched on so many areas.
In our guide, Practice Perspectives: Vault’s Guide to Legal Practice Areas, attorneys from law firms with top-ranked General Corporate Practices share insights about their practice, including what the practice area entails and the types of deals they work on. Keep reading for their insights!
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
Amy Wollensack, Partner—Akin Gump: I represent private equity sponsors and companies in M&A and other investment transactions, including leveraged buyouts, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, growth equity, and other complex transactions. I also provide advice on corporate governance matters and serve as an advisor to portfolio companies of my private equity clients.
Kimberly Spoerry, Partner—Cleary: My practice entails advising clients in connection with different types of corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions (public and private deals), joint ventures, spin-offs, asset dispositions, and minority investments. I also advise boards of directors on various ordinary course corporate governance matters as well as in connection with activist campaigns.
Vanessa Jackson, Partner—Davis Polk: As a member of Davis Polk’s Finance group, I work on a broad range of transactions, including leveraged and investment grade acquisition financings, asset-based credit facilities, debt restructurings, spinoffs, working capital financings, debtor-in-possession financings, exit financings, and other secured and unsecured financings. Each deal is unique, with different dynamics depending on the nature of the transaction, the parties involved, and the deal structure. In addition, my practice is incredibly interpersonal. For example, instilling trust in your clients and communicating effectively with opposing counsel are crucial components of the successful execution of a transaction.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Amy Wollensack: I work on M&A and other investment transactions in a variety of industries, including software and technology, food and beverage, life sciences, healthcare, manufacturing, professional services, franchises, retail, and education.
Kimberly Spoerry: I have really enjoyed the variety of transactions and the range of clients I have been fortunate to work with in my practice. I have worked on a number of minority investments both on the buy side and the sell side. I have worked on acquisitions of companies ranging from small biotechs to large public companies. I have worked on the buy side and sell side of acquisitions of family businesses. I find it incredibly interesting to spend part of the day advising a large public company on a sale and then, later in the same day, advise a smaller family-owned company on its first capital raise from an outside investor.
Vanessa Jackson: I work on a variety of transactions related to acquisition financings, including both strategic acquisitions and private- equity-led leveraged buyouts. In addition, I work on investment grade credit facilities, both in the context of acquisitions and working capital facilities, as well as on restructuring-related financings for distressed companies. It is an incredibly interesting and complex area of the law, and I value the opportunity to work on such a variety of financings that address the needs of clients in various industries.
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