The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Daniel Gonzalez, Associate—Finance (2023)
Daniel Gonzalez grew up in the Boston area and attended Amherst College for undergraduate, then Boston University School of Law. Between undergraduate and law school, he worked with Tenacity, a nonprofit tennis and literacy program (and is still very much involved with the program today). When away from the office, he can be found spending time with family or playing tennis on a local court.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
I work in the Finance group at MoFo and represent financial institutions in a wide range of secured lending, including venture debt, asset-based financing, first and second lien financing, and mezzanine financings. My practice involves advising financial institutions in all aspects of the “life cycle” of a loan, including origination, due diligence matters, drafting and negotiating the loan documents, and advising on amendments/restructuring to existing credit facilities.
What types of clients do you represent?
Commercial lenders, primarily banks and debt funds.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Most deals involve my clients providing debt facilities to early-stage companies in the life sciences and tech spaces. These credit facilities are often in the form of a term loan and/or revolving line of credit based upon the borrower’s accounts receivable, recurring revenue, and/or inventory.
How did you choose this practice area?
I did general corporate work during my first year of practice and had an opportunity to work on an acquisition financing. I enjoyed working through the complexities/nuances of the transaction and decided to focus my practice in the commercial lending space thereafter.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
While the type of legal work is consistent, I would not say there is a “typical” day in my practice group (which is one of my favorite aspects of the Finance group). Depending on deal flow, I may spend the bulk of the day on the phone advising clients on legal risks in new credit facilities or amendments to existing deals, while other days may be weighted towards drafting and reviewing loan agreements.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
For law students, I would suggest Contract Drafting, Secured Transactions, Negotiations, and Bankruptcy classes. I also participated in a clinic during law school, which I found to be very helpful in learning to manage client expectations and balance many projects at once.
What do you like best about your practice area?
It is a very fast-paced environment. Our team handles a high volume of matters, so in a typical day, I will often work on and bounce between 10 and 15 deals. Working on a wide range of deals keeps us up to date on market trends and provides a number of different/novel legal issues to work through.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
It’s both similar to other practice areas at MoFo and unique in certain aspects. Our firm has a strong emphasis on collaboration, and we will often work with other practice areas during loan negotiations, including tax, intellectual property, technology transactions, and investment managements teams, among others. Our practice group is also uniquely resistant to market volatility, as deal flow remains consistent even through economic downturns.
What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?
Summer associates can expect to work on projects/assignments designed for first-year attorneys, with support and guidance from senior attorneys in our practice group. This often includes drafting/preparing certain loan documents, assisting with due diligence matters, and interacting with clients during the loan negotiation process. Our goal is to provide summer associates with real/meaningful work that will help establish a strong foundation for when they join the group post-law school.
How important is it for project finance lawyers to keep abreast of and develop strategies regarding economic trends and market cycles, and how can junior attorneys develop these skills?
Economic cycles play a significant role in the structure of loans, as well as market terms and negotiations. Our clients are some of the most recognizable lenders in the venture debt space, and we frequently collaborate on economic trends and strategy. Our group also has routine internal meetings to ensure that team members are up to date on market cycles.