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The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.

Philip Kaminski, a partner in Proskauer's Finance Group, specializes in secured finance transactions, serving both lenders and borrowers. His expertise includes acquisition financings, asset-based lending, debtor-in-possession and exit financings, restructurings, and fund financings. He represents institutional investors, private equity sponsors, and public companies. Previously, at Vedder Price, Philip focused on aircraft financing, working with banks and aircraft investors and lessors on various financing structures.

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

For more than 20 years, Proskauer has been intrinsically involved in the evolution of the finance industry, working on pioneering structures and products and in partnership with our clients across territories and asset classes. Contemporary investments are multifaceted, and we recognize the importance of a seamless approach. By integrating industry specialists and cross-practice expertise, we provide clients with a distinct advantage regardless of their strategies.

The Global Finance Group at Proskauer is generally divided into two types of finance transactions: (i) fund finance consisting of capital call facilities and NAV (net-asset value) credit facilities and (ii) corporate finance transactions consisting of corporate credit facilities and acquisition financings.

Our practice group continues to grow rapidly year over year in terms of demand, revenue, and size. We have worked on over 300 fund finance transactions over the last three years, worth over $40 billion in combined deal value. Our corporate finance transactions cover a broad range of industries and types of transactions including REIT (real estate investment trust) financings, film finance, DIP (debtor-in-possession) financings, and out-of-court restructurings.

What types of clients do you represent?

In our fund finance transactions, we have historically represented borrowers, but we also represent lenders on NAV credit facilities. In corporate finance transactions, we have a large lender-side practice comprised of both banks and private credit funds. We also represent a wide scope of public and private companies and sponsors. Our experience representing clients on both sides of transactions and across industries is one of the distinguishing factors of our practice group, and keeps us informed on developments in the market in real time. Notable clients include BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, Apollo, Morgan Stanley, Blackstone, and The Carlyle Group.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

In recent years, I have worked on an array of DIP financings and restructuring matters, including representation of the ABL Lenders in Revlon’s chapter 11 case last year. I have also represented Blue Owl as a lender to fund sponsors in a number of different customized transactions. One of the trademarks of our practice is the diversification of clients and transactions so the type of work changes month to month.

How did you choose this practice area?

My father was a bankruptcy attorney who left his legal practice to start his own factoring company. Given the wealth of knowledge and mentorship he provided, I always had a desire to work in finance in some capacity. My classes in secured finance, bankruptcy and dealmaking in law school only further affirmed my pursuit. I chose to join the finance group at Proskauer in particular due to the variety of work and its distinguished reputation. My decision has been validated in spades as I have received wonderful mentorship from the senior partners at the firm and built strong relationships with high-profile clients.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

A typical day consists of managing client calls and questions, supervising and making sure work is being properly handled by our team of associates, and reviewing the primary documents of our loan transactions. Depending on where a deal is in a given transaction cycle, there are also frequent meetings to negotiate the critical points in the documentation with both our clients and opposing counsel. As any finance lawyer would attest though, typical is hard to quantify given the unpredictability of each deal cycle.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

I recommend to all of our summer associates and other law school students who have an interest in our practice that they take courses in secured transactions, bankruptcy, tax, and corporations. I would also strongly urge law students to participate in a deal seminar or a financial accounting course for lawyers if there is an opportunity to do so.

While taking classes and simply reading The Wall Street Journal on a daily basis can help provide a knowledge base, there is nothing like work experience itself. I would advise any aspiring finance attorney to first intern at a law firm in order to observe firsthand the detail, communication, and collaboration skills necessary to succeed. There is no linear path to growth as a corporate attorney, but the more exposure and experience to transactional work one receives the greater the chance for a rapid ascension.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Every deal is different. There are many practices where the forms and transaction structures are standardized. I am continually learning about emerging industries and business strategies in the course of negotiations. The financial markets and investment strategies of our clients are constantly evolving, so our success depends on the ability to adapt and grow with them.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Our junior associates typically draft and review the ancillary documentation in our transactions. We also expect the associates to coordinate the review and delivery of the various conditions precedent required to close. If an associate demonstrates the ability and capacity to draft the primary loan documents, we are happy to facilitate their expedited development. We do not focus on class year in assigning responsibility as much as we focus on someone’s work product and drive. We revel in the accelerated success and growth of our younger lawyers.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Our broad and all-encompassing finance practice opens doors for lawyers to choose many different paths. While we have a great rate of retention for associates in our practice group, those who want to leave for in-house opportunities can do so in any type of industry. We’ve had former associates work as in-house counsel with professional sports teams, investment funds, and aerospace companies.

How do you prepare for a negotiation?

The most important part of any negotiation is understanding the client’s goals. If there are business points that are more meaningful to the client, I try to focus on how I can best leverage our position to meet the client’s objectives.

I also try to establish a cordial relationship with opposing counsel and relent on immaterial items in order to gain credibility for purposes of the negotiation. Ultimately, we are working towards a common goal to complete a financing, so I try to ensure that we do not have an adversarial relationship, which in many cases only undermines the path to closing.