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

Vynessa Nemunaitis, Partner—Corporate (2022)

Vynessa Nemunaitis is a partner in Weil’s Banking & Finance practice in Dallas and also currently serves as the Dallas Hiring Partner. She focuses primarily on finance transactions, including acquisition financing, investment grade lending, leveraged lending, liability management transactions, and restructuring transactions. Vynessa was named a 2021 “Emerging Leader” for Banking & Finance by The M&A Advisor, a 2021 “Rising Star” for Banking & Finance by Expert Guides, and among the 2020 “Rising Stars” in the U.S. for Euromoney Legal Media Group’s Americas Rising Star Awards. She was also named among the 2021 “On the Rise” honorees by Texas Lawyer at the Texas Legal Excellence Awards. 

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Weil is widely recognized as one of the few firms that have both highly rated borrower/private equity sponsor and lender/arranger practices. We regularly represent corporate borrowers, private equity sponsors, and financial institutions in connection with leveraged acquisition transactions, investment grade lending finance, loan restructurings, debtor-in-possession financings, and exit financings. 

We work side-by-side with lawyers from our global M&A and Private Equity practices to advise clients on all facets of acquisition and other event-driven financings. We also work closely with our distinguished Restructuring practice on debt restructurings and debtor-in-possession and exit financings, as well as to analyze insolvency and collateral risks on new money transactions. We are regularly involved in some of the largest, most complex private equity and corporate financings and restructurings.

What types of clients do you represent?

Weil advises a number of the largest private equity sponsors, as well as highly regarded financial institutions and public companies. I predominantly represent borrowers, both strategics and private equity firms. My recent clients include AMC Entertainment, Basic Energy Services, QuarterNorth Energy, Waypoint Leasing Limited, Flynn Restaurant Group, Kendra Scott, The Sterling Group, and Willis Towers Watson, among others. 

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I manage a variety of financing transactions, including for private equity/acquisition financings and restructuring or liability management transactions. I also have significant experience representing borrowers in connection with energy finance transactions and restructurings. Over the last five years, I have advised EP Energy, Basic Energy, QuarterNorth Energy, Paragon Offshore, ChampionX, and Chisholm Oil & Gas on a number of finance transactions, including exit financings. 

How did you choose this practice area?

As a summer associate I was interested in finding a transactional practice where I had the opportunity to build relationships with clients and become their “go-to” for complex legal questions. After spending a summer associate rotation in the Banking & Finance Group, I discovered that as a banking and finance attorney you remain involved with the client throughout the life of a credit facility. For some transactional attorneys, the bulk of the work ends when the transaction closes. For a banking and finance attorney, this is the beginning of a long-term relationship. A significant portion of a banking and finance attorney’s responsibility involves advising our clients on navigating their credit agreements, which often include several amendments/refinancings over many years. 

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

Honestly, every day brings something new! Our clients reach out week to week, or even day to day, with new and exciting opportunities which implicate existing finance documents or create opportunities for new financings. While I do spend the majority of my time working on new financing matters, I also spend time each week on new questions or challenges our existing clients may be facing. Our clients also rely on us to have readily available current market knowledge on financing terms and opportunities. Our practice is extremely collaborative and the group shares information in real time with each other to ensure the Weil team stays ahead of the curve and is ready to jump in whenever a client or prospective client may reach out. 

When the economy is strong and our clients are in the market for opportunistic new deals, we are advising them on what’s “market,” key risks to be on the lookout for, and how to best structure the deal to ensure a successful debt syndication. When the economy is down, we review loan documentation to figure out creative solutions to address defaults, provide covenant relief, and extend the liquidity runway

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

I look for lawyers who are proactive and willing to jump into any new opportunity. Weil provides associates with a number of professional development and practice group training opportunities, but there is no special class to learn how to come to work ready to contribute to the team. We encourage and expect our young associates to take on, with appropriate coaching and supervision, challenging assignments and ask questions along the way. You will learn by participating on deal teams with senior attorneys who are eager to train and mentor. Our practice is truly a team sport and we enjoy working together to advise our clients on sophisticated financing transactions. 

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

As a banking and finance attorney, you have to remain up to speed on the broader market and economy because the loan market is constantly evolving and directly impacts our clients’ financing needs. This becomes especially important during a financial crisis or global event such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. It can be challenging to keep up with current market trends, but I am always learning something new in our practice and stretching my skillset, which is what I find rewarding and interesting about our practice. We have an amazing Weil Banking & Finance Group that works together to provide our clients the most up to date guidance. 

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Don’t let the word “finance” scare you! You do not need any accounting or finance background to be a successful banking and finance attorney. You’ll learn what you need to know about finance terms on the job (although a Secured Transactions class is a go-to for finance attorneys as a head start). 

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

We expect our attorneys and work coordinators to assign summer associates with substantive work experiences across all practice groups. Summer associates are provided with similar assignments as they would receive as first-year associates. The Banking & Finance Group, as well as other transaction groups, ensure that summer associates are also invited to participate in conference calls with clients and the deal team so they can see the entire transaction. We want our summer associates to receive as much experience as possible so they are better informed when choosing their practice.  

In what ways has the coronavirus pandemic affected your practice? How have you adjusted to lawyering in the wake of COVID-19?

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and business community has of course been substantial and there still remains uncertainty for clients on the lasting effects. Given our diverse client base, the Weil Banking & Finance Group worked through a variety of unique and time-sensitive issues early on in the pandemic, as well as longer-term strategic planning as it continued. As you may expect, earlier on we were working on a number of new restructuring and liability management matters together with our Restructuring Group. 

At Weil, we have been proactive with respect to steps to protect the health and safety of our lawyers and staff. We are all balancing our personal lives with providing our clients with critical guidance during this stressful time. We have learned to be more flexible on how and where we carry out our work, while never sacrificing the excellent, timely and reliable guidance we provide our clients.